Why Do I Feel So Resentful And Unhappy?

Hello Friends! It is my privilege to be writing this week's blog for the Leslie Vernick and Co. team. May was such a whirlwind of a month for me. I have had to schedule a specific time for writing as my deadline narrowly approaches. There have been a plethora of responsibilities and distractions pulling me from my work life lately. I feel the desire in myself to do it all, but there is more to do than I have the time and energy to accomplish. It sometimes happens that I have to say no to things in my life that I believe are good and meaningful, only for the reason that I can not be in two places at once. In those rare times, I ask God, “What would you have me do, Lord.” As I write on a warm, weekend night, this is one of those times. However, I am right where I choose to be in order to uphold my values and commitments. I feel blessed to be surrounded by spring flowers and listening to the soft trickle of the fountain on my patio.

Today’s Question: I have always tried to be a good person but life seems to be against me. I grew up doing everything my parents told me to do. I went to the college they wanted me to go to and excelled in the area they thought I would be good at. I have a high-paying job near them and married a Christian man they really like. Shouldn’t I be happy? He is great in a lot of ways but should I be concerned? I work full-time and do most of the chores. I am the one who pays for things most of the time while he spends his money on golf and collecting expensive guns. I don’t ever complain but now I am wondering if there is more going on. I don’t think he is abusive but maybe he is because I can’t live like this anymore. I do so much to make sure others are happy. Why don’t I get the same back in life? I feel so resentful and taken advantage of. Is God trying to teach me some lesson that I am just not getting? No matter how hard I try, it seems that I always feel stuck and unhappy.

Susan’s Response: I am sure it is really frustrating to do what you think will make others happy only to recognize you are not happy yourself. It sounds like you are a very capable person in life and put a lot of effort into making sure your important people get what they want from you. I would be interested to know more about what drives your decisions to do so much to make others happy at your own expense versus doing what is best for you.

As Christians, we are often made to believe that we should do for others and deny our own needs. I don’t think that statement fulfills biblical principles. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus tells us that the most important commandment is this: “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Loving yourself as your neighbor is mentioned 8 times in scripture. If it is written eight times and is a command, it must be significant. The measure for how we love others is…as we love ourselves.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” It seems clear that we should love ourselves and look out for our own interests. This is something that gets misunderstood within the body of Christ. It gets mixed up with dying to self and denying self as if being a good Christian means becoming void of our own needs and desires.

Perhaps you are not clear what your own purpose, needs and desires are. If you grew up in a household where you believed you needed to carry out the life your parents designed for you, you may have never taken the time to know what life you want for yourself. Or perhaps you have been taught it is wrong for you to do so. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” Who are you trying to please and what is the motive or your heart?

When you give to others out of a heart full of love, feelings of resentment don't follow. This tells me that you may be saying yes to things in your life and you would rather be saying no. Resentment is often the result when giving comes from feelings of obligation and fear.

There are several reasons that may be causing you to live your life for others. Fear of disapproval or losing the relationship, desire to feel accepted, loved, or approved of, or even a wrong belief that a good Christian woman should live life to please others.

My concern for you is that you are depleting your energy trying to do and be what others want while not living to your full, God-given potential. 

Kindness is a fruit of the spirit and serving from a loving heart is kindness in action. Loving kindness is a character trait of God. In His lovingkindness, God gives us what we need even when it is not what we want. I view niceness differently than kindness. Niceness seems to be the desire to please or appease others to make them happy in the short term, possibly forgoing what they truly need and/or neglecting what you truly need.

I don’t have enough information to speak to the issues of abuse in your marriage but it does sound like you have taken on the weight of the responsibilities. What led up to this pattern of you doing most of the chores and supporting both of you financially? I wonder what would happen if you had a conversation with your husband about what you are feeling and experiencing. If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to start there.

It can be challenging to speak up for your own needs and desires, especially if you have not done it before. So asking for what you want might sound like this, “I know I haven’t said much before but I don’t really like doing all of the chores and carrying most of the expenses. I would like it if we share them instead. Would you be willing to divide them up together because I’m not willing to keep doing it all?” 

Asking for what you need is important in relationships. If he doesn’t respond the way you would like, let's say he ignores you or says no, you have already indicated that you will not keep doing it all. Then it would be time to follow through with your boundary for yourself. What will you do next instead of continuing to do it all yourself? Maybe you hire someone to help you or let him know that some of the things will be left undone like his phone bill won't get paid or his laundry won't get done.

If you need more help managing resentments due to over-functioning or people pleasing, the Leslie Vernick & Co Team will be offering a Moving Beyond Challenge. Sign up here to learn more.

Be Well!

Beloved reader, how do you keep yourself from over-functioning, people-pleasing and being overcome with feelings of resentment In your relationships?

4 Comments

  1. Elisabeth Natividad on June 15, 2023 at 9:33 am

    She has needs. & her needs matter!? Wow! Thank you. Self denial for the sake of Christ will produce more joy, peace and life that is abundant. That is gospel truth. Thank you Susan for this article. Speaking truth is not always nice, but it always yields freedom. My mom practiced self negation, self-rejection and abnegation at the feet of a highly driven man in a very visible Christian ministry.. Here I am, a woman in ministry with a husband in the business world and I have repeated the destructive pattern. Self-neglect and mistreatment was normative for me. Thank God that though I was blind, now I can see. Walking through the intense pain with the community of faith.
    Elisabeth

  2. JoAnn on June 15, 2023 at 11:10 am

    I’m so sorry that your life has been lived to please others. It’s no wonder that you feel resentful; you have lost yourself. As Susan said, when we do for others out of a heart of love, we don’t feel resentful. But you have been required to obey others your whole life, not for love but for obligation and fear. You need to find yourself, and I would recommend that you enlist the help of a therapist. Meanwhile, ask yourself some questions, starting with “what would I rather do?” “What do I want?” “What do I like?” Maybe you could do some journaling and write down your questions and the answers you come up with. In your journal you don’t have to worry about someone else’s reaction; it’s just you and your preferences. Get to know yourself. God created you with special gifts and abilities. Get to know that woman.

  3. Naomi B on June 15, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    When I start to feel agitated or frustrated, I try to listen to those feelings as a clue that something’s not right, rather than pushing them away. I try to evaluate what I think is reasonable or unreasonable, which can change with seasons in life.

    Also, When I live for the validation or approval of others I end up feeling trapped and a sense of incongruence within myself. But when I’m living authentically I have more peace and joy. This means that I might let others down but I’ve learned they’ll be ok.

  4. Caroline Abbott on June 19, 2023 at 10:38 am

    I often ask my clients to read the “Boundaries” book by Cloud and Townsend. It can be a life saver to realize that you can set boundaries with others, that God is ok with you doing that. In fact, God sets boundaries with us, and Jesus set boundaries with people all the time. When we don’t do everything for others, they get to step up, and it makes everyone a better person.

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