We are told to be self-controlled and disciplined. But why can’t we? What blocks us from being self-controlled and disciplined? As I pondered this question and reflected on my own self-control issues, God showed me it is because of my pride and resentment.
In the last post, I wrote of our need to give up childish thinking, which includes childhood resentments. So, how do we know if our thinking is childish? Children are emotionally reactive when they don’t get what they want. In fact, we are born with a prideful, self-centered, sin nature, that causes us to focus on our own wants and needs. To have a base understand for this post please read my last post Self-control and Maturity
What does healthy emotional self-control look like?
People who have emotional self-control do not over-react, but are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (see James 1:19). In the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, he describes what it means to be a principle-centered person and not reactive. Instead of being reactive self-controlled people are proactive. Principle-centered people stand apart from the emotion of the situation and from other factors that would act on them, and they evaluate the options.
Besides the Bible, this book was the next best book to helped me transform my wrong thinking and unhealthy beliefs. Covey’s book describes how a healthy person should think and act. I wrote thought transforming truth statements for each chapter of Covey’s book and put them on my website called, Healthy Thinking and Behaving from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
What is resentment and how do we develop it?
The dictionary defines resent as feeling or showing displeasure and indignation at (some act, remark, insult, etc.) or toward a person, from a sense of being injured or offended. A person who has resentment will show anger and ill will for any real or perceived wrong or injury, which they believe is unfair. If you remain resentful, you will become bitter, which will keep you self-focused and prevent you from maturing. The dictionary defines bitter as causing or showing sorrow, discomfort, or pain, and bitterness is feeling or showing hate or resentment. When people are prevented from getting what they want, they will show anger and resentment in how they respond. Resentment will control your reactions when triggered, as I explain later in this post.
Watch how you react to disappointment.
When we become depressed and pouty, or angry and unkind, it is because we have become offended by a disappointment. Disappointment creates an offense when there is a real or perceived sense of unfairness, and you feel wounded. Dealing with disappointment in a healthy way will prevent becoming offended and resentful. So, if you currently become offended by disappointment when someone or something does not do what you want, it shows self-centered immaturity. To learn more, read #1 Destroyer of All Relationships and the Solution.
I recommend the following actions to handle disappointment in a healthy way. First, capture (acknowledge) offended thoughts. Offended thoughts are evident when you do not feel peace and joy. Once you acknowledge you are offended, then ask what disappointed me? Next, forgive the person who has disappointed you or accept the situation you are disappointed by.
For example, if you did not get a raise, or was demoted. You may feel disappointed or you may feel it was unfair and become offended and resentful. If you were honest, you will first feel depressed, angry, and resentful, which is very destructive. Remove yourself from the emotional response and seek to understand and learn why, then either develop a plan to do better, or accept it and move on to another job you can excel at.
A personal example. I was disappointed when my husband could not help me with a garden project that I wanted to get done that day. It so happened, my husband had lost his driver’s license, so he was focused on finding his license, then getting it replaced. Instead of understanding his situation, I became offended and let wrong thoughts control my emotions and spoke hurtful things in revenge for disappointing me. I know I am not the only one with this problem, and therefore, I am writing about self-control right now.
I began to capture my wrong thinking and loose them from my mind, next, I asked God’s forgiveness, and then replaced my wrong thoughts with truthful thoughts of thankfulness, see my post A POWERFUL MOOD CHANGER. But I did not gain full self-controlled until I accepted my disappointment and loosed the false beliefs concerning my husband that controlled my destructive behavior. I have a great husband and I should be thankful. I repented and asked my husband for forgiveness. My husband put Proverbs 25:18 on the bathroom mirror, and I have been pondering that verse ever since. To understand how false beliefs control our emotions, read UNHEALTHY BELIEFS: What are they and where do they come from?
God showed me how my wrong thoughts were created by painful memories of resentment. When I was a teen, my mother made my sisters and me do all the chores, including laundry, cooking, and hand-washing dishes for five people. I developed resentment because I perceived my sisters did not do their part, and I felt this was unfair and became resentful. My mother had just divorced my father, and went off to college, so she was focused on getting her education and did not help either. I never saw my father again, which created a host of issues. So, I did not have parental guidance to learn how to handle disappointments and the resulting resentment.
I went through the five steps to heal my heart and purify my soul to heal these resentments. See; Five Steps to Heal Your Heart and Purify Your Soul. God also showed me I had current resentment toward my husband for not meeting other expectations when I needed help. I took those resentful thoughts captive and loosed them and then asked God to forgive me and asked my husband to forgive me.
Put away resentments so you can mature.
The bible says in Ephesians 4:31,32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” To put something away is to no longer be emotionally invested in the negative or painful memory. Putting away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice involves asking God to reveal painful childhood memories that caused you to become resentful of a real or perceived wrong done to you. Many adults have subconscious bitterness that keep them stuck in self-focused childish thinking. To find these subconscious memories, begin reading my book here 1–Healing Begins by Transforming Painful Memories to understanding the why and how for healing past issues to mature and love well.
After you put away any wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice from your heart, then bind in kindness and forgiveness to your heart. See my post called; Relationship and World Changing Kindness and WHY SHOULD I FORGIVE.
There is hope for maturity and self-control as we put off resentfulness from disappointments we perceived as unfair. When we put off resentfulness and accept disappointment then we can be self-controlled.
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P.S.: Experiencing a lasting change in your life depends on having a right relationship with God the Father through believing in His Son Jesus Christ and obeying His command to love (1 John 3).