The purpose of a midlife crisis, perimenopause and menopause (from a spiritual perspective) is to move us beyond childbearing to birthing ourselves…and this is as true for men as it is for women. During midlife and menopause, we are invited to leave behind the life we have known to make room for the new life that is trying to be born through us. In birthing our new selves, we are birthing our Soul – the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we find fulfillment by contributing to the betterment of our world. During the midlife journey, we are invited to confront the obstacles to our Soul’s birth, those things that stand in the way of our ability to find meaning, peace and fulfillment. Today, we explore the RESENTMENT as an obstacle to our path.
Midlife and Menopause – Dealing with Resentment
John M. Gottman, in his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, calls resentment one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Resentment, he points out, is the great relationship destroyer and at the heart of most relationship conflicts. I would argue that this is true not only in our marriages or intimate partnerships, but that resentment is the great destroyer of all human relationships. Like Gollum with his “Precious,” we grab resentment, harbor and cultivate it until the darkness overtakes us and everything around us. Resentment is toxic, it poisons us, it keeps us from the noble qualities of compassion and forgiveness, it steels us against opportunities for love and it obscures the loving and peaceful truth of who we are and who God/dess calls us to be. In the midlife journey, harboring resentment keeps us trapped in our past and imprisons us in our fears and compulsions, thereby blocking the way to the freedom of knowing and sharing our gifts and the meaning and purpose that our gifts offer, not only to us, but to the world.
Resentment – what is it really?
In order to move forward in our midlife journey, we have to confront our relationship with resentment. The challenge is that few of us have been taught about the true nature of resentment and its purpose in our lives. Instead, we feel it, we harbor it and it imprisons us. I had the great fortune of a teacher who taught me the meaning and purpose of resentment and I wish to share it with you here today in the hopes of helping along your own midlife path. Resentment, I was taught, is simply a bio-chemical response to our needs not being met. That is it. Resentment, is simply an alarm, a flashing light, a billboard, trying to alert us that one of our needs is not being met. When we understand resentment in this way, we can now choose a different response. Instead of feeling resentment and then harboring it, we can feel resentment and simply take notice:
I’m feeling resentment, so there must be a need here that is not being met.
Then, we might ask ourselves a question:
What is the need here that is not being met?
Once we identify what that need might be, then we have the opportunity to name and claim that need:
Honey, when you said this, I experienced resentment arising in me, which means that I have a need that is not being met here. I have stopped to ask myself what that need might be and this is it…………. Now, I’m identifying this need and inviting us to work together toward getting this need met.
Now we’re having a conversation and not getting stonewalled behind the prison of resentment. In midlife, we are invited to learn how to deal with resentment and to work toward naming and claiming the needs that resentment helps us to know are not being met. I know, easier said than done…..but if we want to know peace in the second half of our lives, we have to start somewhere. 🙂
What role has resentment played in your life?
How has resentment been an obstacle to inner peace?
How has resentment been harmful to your intimate relationships?
For help and support in the midlife transition, I offer one-on-one mentoring, classes and workshops. To learn more, call me at (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.