A Few Ways Of Dealing With Bitterness

This post is dedicated to anyone going through some form of bitterness.

It doesn’t provide an entire solution to the problem because the degrees and causes of bitterness vary from one individual to another.

However, I hope this article makes a difference and gives someone the hope and encouragement required at this time.

The Daily Mail published an article stating ‘Harbouring Bitterness Increases The Likelihood Of Physical Disease.’

Professor Wrosch (Montreal’s Concordia University Department of Psychology) suggests ‘persistent bitterness may result in global feelings of anger and hostility that when strong enough, could affect a person’s physical health.’

He’s also investigated how negative emotions, such as regret or sadness, affect people and singles out how failure is one of the most frequent causes of bitterness.

He believes bitterness harboured over a long period could forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease.

Finally, he suggests bitterness can be avoided if people who experience failure: 

  • Find other ways to fulfil their goals
  • Disengage from fruitless efforts.
  • Re-engage in something that’s equally meaningful (e.g. a new job or passion).
  • Involve others.
  • Engage in Forgiveness. [Embitterment: Societal, psychological, and clinical perspectives (Springer 2011)].

Michael Linden (Head Of The Psychiatric Clinic at Free University of Berlin 2003) argues that bitterness is actually a medical disorder and should be categorised as post-traumatic embitterment disorder (PTED).

He estimates that between one and two per cent of the population is embittered and by giving the condition a proper name, people with PTED will receive the therapeutic attention they deserve.

While I’m a bit cautious about the conclusions made from the research, this post will attempt to suggest a few ways of dealing with bitterness.

The Free Online Dictionary defines bitterness as a feeling of deep anger, ill-will, hostility and intense resentment.

It is a non-productive emotion that can destroy relationships and keep one from focusing on their own well-being

Have I had my fair share of bitterness?

YES!!! and there are still occasions it still creeps up in my head/heart/mind.

There are times when I’ve been:

  • Dumped in a relationship.
  • Classed as a complete failure.
  • Bullied at a young age and came in contact with the bully later in life requiring my assistance.
  • Stereotyped because of sex, skin colour and faith.
  • Swindled by people I trusted.
  • Fallen into traps set out by people with intent to hurt me emotionally.
  • Experienced losses.

The list is endless…….

During these moments of bitterness, the following tends to occur:

  • An intense feeling of shock to my system.
  • My ego feels bruised and wounded.
  • I suddenly get into a defensive mode in order to shield my hurt.
  • I gradually succumb to the feelings of anger because the more I think about the wrongs or those who have hurt me, the deeper I fall into the realms of resentment and despair.

Maya Angelou states ‘Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host.

Once again the aim of this post is to suggest simple ways of dealing with bitterness.

In no particular order they are as follows:

Don’t Suppress Or Deny Your Feelings 

Identify and admit the feelings of bitterness. It’s important to recognize how you feel about the issues that trigger those feelings and pursue some form of clarity because your ultimate aim/goal is to experience peace and happiness within.

You may also need to find a way of expressing your frustrations constructively because it provides a bit of relief when overwhelmed with bitterness.

Be Around People

When faced with bitterness, it’s important to be around people you are accountable to, who won’t withhold any form of encouragement from you or keep you at arms length as you share/express your frustrations.

Focus on your options

Focus on the reality of the situations responsible for your bitterness. Think deeply about the possible ways of resolving those hurtful feelings and channel your efforts constructively with a view of doing things that would give you a fair amount of joy and happiness.

The more options you have for dealing with negative thoughts/situations, the better you are at managing your frustrations and bitterness.

Don’t Stress Over Things You Can’t Control

You must not lose sight of this please. There are certain events you can’t change, so it’s important to avoid stressing over things you can’t control because it only fuels bitterness and leads to constant worry and anxiety.

Remember, you are in control of your thoughts/actions and you may not be as helpless as you perceive to be. 

Be Realistic

Be realistic with your own affairs and people that govern your life. Try as much as possible to keep your emotions in check

Engage In The Act Of Gratitude

There are so many things to be grateful for. Learn to count your blessings and express gratitude for the good things of life as well as people that have come your way.

Engage In Confrontation Cautiously

You should confront the issue of bitterness by communicating your feelings to the parties responsible cautiously, not in an accusatory manner or ways which could generate intense conflict thereby creating more unrest within.

Melody of the deliberate receiving blog has published an extensive article on confrontation.

Spend Some Time Alone

Take time out to reflect on the issues causing bitterness because it may provide you with a clearer and rational perspective. Some time alone could also prevent unnecessary emotional outbursts which could bring regret in the future.

Work On Your Attitude

Having a positive attitude enhances optimism which helps you manage worries, conditions your thoughts and helps you deal with the issue of bitterness.

The benefits are as follows: 

  • It creates a some form of inspiration and motivation.
  • It equips you with the ability to overcome various difficulties.
  • It helps in dealing with and managing your bruised ego.
  • It allows you communicate your feelings effectively.

Feel good about yourself

Always feel good about who you are (constructively), where you are now and display confidence about what to look forward to in the future.

It’s important to avoid excessive self criticism because it triggers negative feelings which only result in bitterness.

Rise up to the challenge

The negative events of the past often create tough challenges for the present because there’s a desire to wish the past away, live in regret, blame others for our circumstances…………

In order to rise above the level of being constantly tormented by bitterness, you need to live up to the challenge of staying strong through the difficult periods.

You can’t change past events/incidences, but you can definitely shape your future by dealing with the current challenges of life constructively.

Find Peace

Seek to be at peace internally because it puts you in the right frame of mind.

Forgiveness is essential but it doesn’t mean tolerating wrong doings or immediately reconciling with those who hurt you. It’s very important because it creates peace within.

Relax

There’s nothing else to write on this subject but ‘JUST RELAX!!’. Sleep, go for a walk in the park, listen to music……..

Live Your Life.

LIVE YOUR LIFE and LIVE IT WELL!!! Make good use of the opportunities that come your way. Spend time with your friends, family, children…. If you can, live life to its fullest(constructively) rather than focusing so much on your bitterness.

Face Your Fears

Face your fears by starting all over again, taking risks, building positive relationships, sharing the hurt experienced with friends, family…..

Let your thoughts of the future be inspiring, memorable, motivating, inspiring and encouraging.

Seek Professional Help

Employing the services of a counsellor, coach, psychotherapist etc. could be effective in dealing with the feelings of bitterness.

If you feel the need for professional advice, do not hesitate to call or visit your local GP, a professional counsellor or psychotherapist.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Footnote:

This article focuses on a few ways to deal with bitterness but:

In the wake of the london and england riots,

There are absolutely no immediate words of comfort, counselling, theories, answers… I can provide that would wipe out the feelings of hurt, anger and bitterness people feel towards different sections of the society at large.

However I salute the courage of:

People remaining steadfast as they rebuild their homes & businesses

The community for coming out to clear the streets in ‘riot clean up’

The father who has lost his sons but is still speaking out against the violence

The emergency services(police, the ambulance service, fire service……..)

and many more……..

I pray for the families who have lost their loved ones, families who have been displaced from their houses, people who have lost all hope, people who tend to be misguided…….

Finally I hope and pray peace is completely restored to the entire cities/places involved.

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32 Comments

sensus communis

about 3 years ago

great article enjoyed reading it thanks

Reply

Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

i am glad you did. hope you are having a nice day

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John Sherry

about 3 years ago

Ayo, bitterness is like taking a pill in the past (often years ago) that will poison and infect you badly now. It never helps to hold onto emotional pain - we wouldn't choose to hold on to physical pain for years!!! Bitterness is failing to face the issue and create closure. It's living in the dark while everyone else is out on the beach in the sun. So...let it go and then a smile will appear and then love and then........well, why not find out? John Sherry´s last blog post ..The Self-Psychology Conversation

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello john first of all it was great to meet you in person today. i had a fantastic time and you've given me so much food for thought. i loved the two analogies made referencing bitterness as a pill of the past carrying so much poison and living in the dark when others are exposed to the light. do have a lovely week and take care.

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John Sherry

about 3 years ago

The pleasure was all mine Ayo - you are a true gentleman and a joy to spend hours talking with. I can't wait until the next time...which I want to be soon!!

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Julie | A Clear Sign

about 3 years ago

Ayo, This is a wonderful article. When faced with bitterness I first look within to see what I did to cause or contribute to the situation. My view is that many times in personal situations, we have lessons to learn about our own behaviors which may be painful to face, but...if we don't learn our lessons they don't go away, they come back. Stronger and harder. They come back as harder and harder lessons until we learn them. That said, it's better to swallow a bitter pill now than to get hit by a bus later. We are all imperfect but we can learn to take the bitter with the sweet, learn from it, focus our minds on the present, and become more than we ever believed (no matter what it looks like right now). Julie | A Clear Sign´s last blog post ..How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition And Your Imagination Or Ego

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello julie how are you and welcome to the blog. you make an important point of one learning the lessons associated with the event or experience one is currently going through and also embracing the present. i hope to read or hear from you again. take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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Mark of Success

about 3 years ago

Hi Ayo, It's my first time on your blog. You have a nice one going here! Well, bitterness... they say kills you from within. It's like slow poison. Some people advise that we should forgive and forget. But I have a philosophy that one should forgive but never forget. Cheers, Mark Mark of Success´s last blog post ..I quit my job, and this is how it feels

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello mark how are you and welcome to the blog. you've got an interesting philosophy here and it leads me to the question 'can one really forget?' hmmmhh!! i look forward to reading/hearing from you. take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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Mark of Success

about 3 years ago

Good question, Ayo! :-) I guess it depends, and if one tries to forget they probably can brainwash themselves. Nevertheless, what I wanted to say is that we should never even make an attempt to forget, contrary to common advice to do so. Hope you are having a great time! Cheers, Mark Mark of Success´s last blog post ..Do you feel guilty to live a successful life?

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Melody | Deliberate Receiving

about 3 years ago

Hi Ayo, This is such an amazing and thorough piece! To me, when people get stuck in the thought that "things are crap and there's nothing I can do about it", it can lead to depression or anger. When they get stuck in a feeling of low grade anger, that's bitterness. I'm glad they're finally figuring out the connection between long-term emotional distress and illness. I'm not sure about creating a new disorder to label it (this will no doubt involved the pharmaceutical companies...), but the attention is going to the right place. Thank you so much for the shout out and link!!! This was such a wonderful surprise. :) Huge hugs to you! Melody Melody | Deliberate Receiving´s last blog post ..Shame On You! Because I Certainly Don’t Want It

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello melody how are you? your article on confrontation was very informative and filled with different nuggets aimed at helping one manage/handle the situation. on the issue of labelling bitterness hmmh!! i am not so sure about it, infact i dont subscribe to the idea.(but i could be wrong) take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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farouk

about 3 years ago

great post Ayo i wrote an article before on the connection between physical illness and psychological state i said that 75% of illnesses are caused by mood problems! thanks for the post, its very useful :)

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Jk Allen

about 3 years ago

Hey Ayo, Great timing for this post. Tension is high in London; violence is in full effect. It's really unfortunate what's going on out there. I'm not in-tune with the details...but it's too bad that so many have to suffer. Very well put together my friend. Take care! Jk Allen´s last blog post ..Who Needs a MBA (or any Degree) When You Have Hustle?

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello jk how are you? there's so much calm now over the city. i must stress that witnessing the events, its impact and effects on live television was quite troubling. thanks for the comment jk. take care and love to the family p.s. did you get my email please?

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Vic

about 3 years ago

I been through this stage of life before and the way I got through it was with Family. No man is an island. Get with people who care about you so that you can heal. Great post, Ayo. I will be coming around more often. Vic´s last blog post ..Making Connections (Miscellaneous)

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello vic how are you and welcome to the blog. thanks for leaving wise words here ' get with people who care about you, so you can heal' this is so true because they are there to support, encourage and give you hope through each stage of life hope to hear/read from you again. take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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Dia

about 3 years ago

Hi Ayo, We all experience bitterness in life, some of the ways to release the bitterness is to meditate, visualize our goals as being accomplished, be surrounded with our love ones. Great job my friend as usual ; Dia´s last blog post ..I’m so desperate for a girlfriend

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello dia how are you? in addition to support from loved ones, there should be moments when individuals take time out to reflect , meditate or visualize. it releases bitterness as you've pointed out, gives one a bit of clarity, reduces tension...... thanks for highlighting this and take care

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Sibyl

about 3 years ago

Great Article Ayo. I think it is such an important topic because its easy to fall into the trap and look up and realize you are bitter. I loved the Maya Angelou quote. It really drove the point home and the list you shared is really great. Great point to not stress over things you can't control. It really is so important. Great post. Sibyl´s last blog post ..10 Things You Definitely Should Learn From “Failure”

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello sibyl how are you i am glad you enjoyed the post i've got a lot of catching up to do and you would hear from/see me shortly on your blog. take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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Frank

about 3 years ago

Ayo, This was an on time read. You have given me a series of information that can help me deal with the natural emotion of bitterness. Let's be honest it is something that we all have experienced but now I have the intellect to be able to take it on thanks to you. I would go and quote my favorite parts but what good would it be for me to re-write your entire post in the comment section. lol! Great job. Frank´s last blog post ..Improving Productivity with Purpose?

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello frank how are you? i am glad you found parts of the article informative and useful for now or the future. take care and enjoy the rest of the day. p.s. the light house is still trending......

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EnrichingLife

about 3 years ago

Dear Ayo, what a great post. Just in connection with the riots in UK bitterness has shown its ugly face. Though I wonder how many people were actually aware of their own bitterness at the time? ... Anyway, I hope things turn round for the better in the UK. *fingers crossed* Michaela

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello michaela how are you and welcome to the blog i'm glad you enjoyed reading the aricle. for the uk: there's so much calm now and it's my belief that things are turning round for the better. hope to hear/read from you again. take care and have a nice day

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Galen Pearl

about 3 years ago

The link you make between bitterness and health is so important. I've been writing about forgiveness this month (the opposite of bitterness in a way). People who are forgiving are happier, healthier, and more resilient. Bitterness sucks a lot of our life energy right out of us! This is a very helpful post. Galen Pearl´s last blog post ..Giving Up Hope...and Getting Somthing Better

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello galen how are you and welcome to the blog. i would check out your posts on forgiveness and i totally agree with your conclusion 'bitterness sucks a lot of our life energy out' hope to hear and read from you again. take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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Theresa Torres

about 3 years ago

Hi Ayo, It's nice to be here. I agree that harboring bitterness affects a person's physical health. I have a friend who has a habit of keeping her anger and resentment bottled up inside and she always complains of stomachaches and insomnia. She even sought professional help a few times. The ways that you mentioned here will surely help my friend deal with her feelings. Thanks for sharing this. Have a nice day! Theresa Torres´s last blog post ..Establishing Business Credit: 5 Tips

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Ayo Olaniyan

about 3 years ago

hello theresa how are you and welcome to the blog. i really hope your friend gets better and thanks for finding the article worth sharing. take care and enjoy the rest of the day

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Rachel Lavern

about 3 years ago

Hi Ayo, Great article. Just last week I saw the saying "Let go of bitterness, and the sweetness will return". I believe it was a fortune cookie...great advice. I try hard to select positive emotions. I love that you suggest that one gets help if they need it. A good practice is to determine that you will be happy, positive, and healthy in your emotional outlook. Rachel Lavern´s last blog post ..Get Totally Obsessed With Imagination

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Christy

about 3 years ago

Some don't take "bitterness" seriously, not knowing it's negative effects on health. This post can be an eye-opener to all those who live the "bitter-way".

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Motivating You To Great Achievement

about 3 years ago

The position of Daily Mail on harboring bitterness is a fact that cannot be disputed. The reason being that bitterness takes a heavy toll on us psychologically, spiritually and then health wise. It is like a ticking bomb waiting to explode at anytime

Reply

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