Existential Psychology


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If you’ve started to feel resentful it’s a pretty clear sign that something needs to change. Exactly what needs to change is a more difficult question to answer due to the various psychological coping mechanisms we use to make sense of our lives and shirk responsibility for our problems.

But even if it really is someone else who’s treating you unfairly, creating that bitter sense of indignation, the trap is that if you’re like most people you’ll let the feelings fester, you’ll allow those negative emotions free rein to swirl around your psyche without actually doing anything about it, without confronting your situation analytically, without looking for a constructive solution.

The one and only value resentment has is to tell you that something is wrong and needs to change. If you don’t do something quickly then what could be a productive force will transform into a destructive force.

More often than not that sense of indignation towards life and people is an unconscious strategy to find relief from the anxiety cued off by the recognition of personal responsibility. Blaming someone or something else for your unwanted situation lets you off the hook. You get to fancy yourself the good guy, the suffering victim, the saint. You turn some other entity into the bad guy, the villain, the evildoer. You turn this entity into a scapegoat, projecting all your responsibility onto it, and as a result your psychic burden lightens.

It’s ironic that a psychological strategy meant to make you feel better actually ends up making you feel and do much worse. You’re left with those hateful emotions and with paralysis of action since if it’s some other entity responsible for your situation there’s nothing you can do to improve it.