Resentment is the number one offender

What’s your problem? One problem that many of us have is that we are riddled with resentment. How do I come to that conclusion? It’s found in the AA Big Book (remember that Depressed Anonymous is based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous).

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics (or depressed people) than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 64-65

Okay, so we’ve identified the number one offender. We must set ourselves free from resentment. What do we do to rid ourselves of resentment? That too is found in the AA Big Book:

If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.

It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it too always comes. And because it works for me, it will work for all of us. As another great man says, “The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, page 552

I can personally attest to the fact that praying for the people you resent truly works. I harbored a deep resentment for over 15 years. My parents chose not to come to my daughter’s funeral. The resentment was all consuming. My sponsor in AA told me “Bill you need to pray for your parents”.

The first thought that came to mind was: “No way in hell am I praying for my parents”. Then the small still voice of my Higher Power asked me a question: “Well Bill, what are you willing to do?”.

I realized that I was willing to pray for willingness. I prayed for two weeks, and the willingness came. I prayed for two weeks for my parents: that they know peace, that they feel the presence of God in their life, that they have wisdom.

I prayed and the resentment was gone. The scar was still there because they hurt me. It however was no longer an open and festering wound. No longer was there bile in the back of my throat because of deep anger. I was free!

Prayer truly works if you pray for those you resent, and not pray at them.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

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