Resentment is a Great Teacher

By | July 18, 2022

[July 18, 2022]  I found it interesting that several psychologists, such as Dr. Jordan Peterson, have taken a close look at the emotion of resentment and given us some of their ideas of its utility.  Here is a summary of what they tell us.

Resentment is a key human motivation, and it’s a great teacher.  Listening to your resentment is one of the best things you can do.  Resentment means either one or two things.  Either shut the heck up, grow up, quit whining, and get on with life.  Or, to use Peterson’s words, someone is playing the tyrant to you (and that might even be you).

The resentful person wants other people to change.  And, if you’re resentful, then your motivations aren’t trustworthy, and they are, in fact, very dark.  So what do you do instead?  How do you treat your own resentment?

We should ask ourselves, when did I take the path I knew I shouldn’t take?  Most of the time, we know when we are doing wrong and following the wrong path.  Yes, sometimes we are just ignorant.  You just don’t know.  But mostly, we know, and we do the wrong thing anyway.  That happens a lot.

Why do we do that?  Spite is part of it.  Stupidity.  There are many reasons, but we certainly know we do it.  The idea of what you should do if you’re resentful about the nature of being or suffering too much for your own life is to straighten out your life.  Try it.

Try not to do those things you know you shouldn’t do.  Try not to say the things you know to be false.  And then watch what happens.  Set a time frame, a year, a month, or so and then stand back and watch how things unfold in your life.  If your life is not going as you want it to, you can find someone else to blame, which is convenient for you and relatively easy.  Or, you could think, I don’t like my life the way it is unfolding because it’s tragic and tainted with evil.

The question is, have I done everything possible to set my life straight.  How can I blame the world if I haven’t done everything possible within my power to straighten myself out?

Humility just might be the answer.  Humility means something like this, What you don’t know is more important than what you do know.”  It’s a fact that we don’t know enough because your life is not what it could be, and neither is the life of those around you.  Listen closely to people; they will tell you where you are wrong, and you should be happy this is pointed out because it is hard for you to make that discovery.

If you listen properly to people, like they have something important to tell you, then they will tell you amazing things.  The humility element is, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be learning?”  “Do you want to be the tyrannical king who has figured everything out, or do you want to be the flawed hero who is getting better all the time?”

If you really listen to people, they will tell you what is wrong with them, and hot to fix it and what they want


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

26 thoughts on “Resentment is a Great Teacher

  1. Anya B.

    Gen. Satterfield, one of your best articles. More like this is okay with us. I know this article, like so many recently, are delving into the psyche of leaders and followers. This one really hits home. Well done!

  2. ZB22

    The Democrats (resentment at its fullest) new voting base is the work-from-home pajama class, the people with the luxury of caring about climate change and ‘January 6’, while their neighbors wonder if they should put food on the table or gas in the car because there isn’t enough money for both.

  3. mainer

    Excellent article that made me think and think hard. I never gave this much thought before and Gen. Satterfield is right.

  4. Laughing Monkey

    Gen. Satterfield is making my brain hurt thinking about this. I see his new turn with his blog and putting on my thinking cap before drinking my first cup of coffee is tough. But, I am a regular reader and will remain so.

    1. Arena of Fools

      Ha Ha Ha…… —– me too. That is why I keep coming back to his website.

      1. JT Patterson

        Right, Yusaf, Gen. Satterfield has used this book in the past to say it is wrong in its main point. No, you are not ‘okay.’ You can be much much more.

  5. Doc Blackshear

    Resentment can have a negative effect on your mental health. It is not worth it to hold onto feelings of anger towards someone who has done you an injustice. It is good to let go of resentment and focus on the things that make you happy. You need energy, motivation, and a positive attitude in order for your goals to be accomplished. You can’t expect yourself to do well when you feel negative about everything that has happened in the past”.

    1. Valkerie

      Yep, Doc B. thanks. If you have been feeling bad about something for a long time, it is important to try and get over it.

  6. Max Foster

    Those who find it difficult to forgive others for any wrong, no matter how slight, may find some benefit in therapy. Those who wish to understand the reasons for their resentment of a particular individual or situation might wish to revisit the event, alone or with the help of a therapist. Because the source of a person’s resentment can differ, there is no one type of therapy used to treat these feelings.

      1. MrJohn22

        That is why Gen. Satterfield is changing the way his is doing his blog. for most, they cannot see the change but I can.

  7. Bobby Joe

    Letting go of resentment means forgiving. Some individuals find that making peace with something that happened and moving on works better for them. Regardless of how someone chooses to get rid of resentment, it most likely means adjusting one’s frame of mind or emotional responses.

  8. Jonnie the Bart

    Wow, thanks Gen. S. for another blog post that made me think. I think my brain hurts now!

  9. American Girl

    Those who experience resentment may have feelings of annoyance and shame—they might also harbor a desire for revenge. A person may become resentful as a result of a slight injustice or a grave one, perhaps harboring the same bitterness and anger over a small matter as they would over a more serious issue.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      It’s the “revenge” part I believe most of us are afraid to face. We want to lash out. That is the bad part of ‘resentment.’ Gen. Satterfield, once again, has given us something to think about and the emotion of resentment is one of them.

      1. Greek Senator

        Resentment is often defined as anger and indignation experienced as a result of perceived unfair treatment, and it’s a relatively common emotion.

        1. Colleen Ramirez

          Good points guys. 😊 Thanks for helping me understand this emotion better but I recommend reading more about resentment from psychologists who study it deeply.

  10. Harold M. Smith II

    Never thought of resentment this way. I ways thought resentment was an emotion that was not good for me.

    1. Boy Sue

      You can harness the bad parts of you and make them into something useful.

    2. Tom Bushmaster

      I was thinking the same thing. Resentment is a failing of sorts. THe kind of thing that does us – us personally – harm and can harm our relationships with others, especially those close to us.

      1. Willie Strumburger

        Hey guys, don’t forget to get a copy of Gen. Satterfield’s new book. Well, almost a year old now. Get it on Amazon. The link is above, but its title is ‘Our Longest Year in Iraq.’

    3. Rev. Michael Cain

      Remember God in everything you do and resentment will not take you over.


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