Victory Over Bitterness

In my counseling experience, I have seen many people get stuck in situations of anger and resentment. I came across this article by Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. and the following is a summary. You may find the original article at Psychology Today:

Don’t Let Your Anger “Mature” Into Bitterness, by Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.

Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented.”  (Gregory Popcak)

The Cause of Bitterness

All bitterness starts out as a hurt. Your emotional pain may well be related to being victimized. Someone has wronged you and caused you grieve. Anger and resentment readily came along. When left to fermentation, anger eventually becomes the corrosive ulcer that is bitterness. Stephen Diamond, Ph.D. defines bitterness as “a chronic and pervasive state of smoldering resentment,” and deservedly regards it as “one of the most destructive and toxic of human emotions.”

The Cost of Bitterness

  • Prolong your mental and emotional pain

  • Lead to long-lasting anxiety and/or depression

  • Precipitate vengeful acts

  • Prevent you from experiencing the potential joys of living fully in the present

  • Create, or further deepen, an attitude of distrust and cynicism

  • Interfere with your cultivating healthy, satisfying relationships

  • Compromise or weaken your higher ideals

  • Rob you of vital energy

  • Undermine your physical health by taxing (or “overloading”) your immune system

Bitterness puts the focus on the person who wronged you. Yet you don’t have any control over the other person. You do have power over yourself. By redirecting your focus inwards is precisely how you go about empowering yourself, to reprieve the entrapment of bitterness.

The Cure of Bitterness

James J. Messina has developed a five-step plan:

(1) Identify the source of your bitterness and what this person did to evoke your resentful feelings;

(2) Develop a new way of looking at your past, present, and future—including how resentment has negatively affected your life and how letting go of it can improve your future;

(3) Write a letter to this person, describing [their] offenses toward you, then forgive and let go of them (but don’t send the letter);

(4) Visualize your better future having neutralized the negative impact of resentment; and

(5) If bitter, resentful feelings remain, return to Step 1 and begin again

Conclusion with quotes:


Daily Prompt: Bitter

Debbie at Forgiving Friday

Daily Prompt: Reprieve


41 thoughts on “Victory Over Bitterness

  1. Oh MIRIAM! I am so touched by this post. Thank you, thank you for contributing it for Forgiving Fridays. I’ll include it in my update on Friday.

    I so appreciate the value in acknowledging the upset inside of ourselves, getting it out, and letting go. I was just sharing with someone about how when we forgive, it’s really to set ourselves free – no matter what they do or don’t do. Reminds me of the Hafiz quote, “I once asked a bird, ‘How do you fly in this gravity of darkness?’ She responded, ‘Love lifts me’. ” Blessings to you Miriam,
    I love you — Debbie ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! 🙂 it reminds me of a quote I once heard: “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I don’t know who said it, but there’s truth in that. I have a really hard time letting things go, even though I know I must, but I don’t want to drink poison!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to be humorously bitter about things, I make a joke, have a rant,, or a combination of the two, I can then let it go, & get on with things again. 75% of what I say is tongue in cheek, I guess we all have our own little ways in which we cope. I am decidedly strange, in every way possible, I get told I’m funny – I don’t probe as to what the person means, haha or gaga, I would say a bit of each – but more gaga.
    Thanks for another thought provoking post.

    I managed to do a very quick one, it here if you want to look, it is only short as now – bed time!

    Thanks for sharing, always love your work x

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have had this happen to me with a certain someone and to this day haven’t been good at letting it go. It was years ago and I haven’t been ablt to get past it. This post offers great insight and I will be trying to change the way I feel, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This a very important message which I really needed to see , and understand . You have brought out all the points which lead to bitterness , what happens to us when we are consumed by it , and how we can let go of it so that we aren’t consumed by that toxin….thankyou so much

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our motto is not to take anything personal. Forget and forgive is the best though it is easier said than done. Our own remedy for that is to sit back and meditate to clear all our thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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