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Overgiving Leads to Resentment

By Julie Bjelland, LMFT
Do you often find that you give more than others in your friendships, relationships, or at work and don't get back what you give out? Do you feel baffled, maybe even irritated or angry, as to why other people are not as conscientious and thoughtful as you are? You probably think about the needs of others a lot and wonder why they aren't giving back the same as what you put in. Over time, these feelings can often lead to resentment.

When your resentment tank is full you might experience the following:
  • Frequent dwelling or ruminating on how they make you feel.

  • Passive aggression.

  • Conversations that feel loaded and often lead to arguments.

  • Feeling unheard or not listened to.

  • Anger.

  • Irritation or annoyance about everything that person does or says.

  • Disconnection and lack of closeness.

  • Feeling invalidated.

  • Contempt.

  • Feelings of revenge.

There is a group of people in the population (about 20%) who tend to think a lot about the needs of others and, therefore, give more than the majority. You are probably kind, caring, compassionate, and empathetic. If this sounds like you, then you might have an innate trait commonly referred to as the highly sensitive person (HSP) and brain differences that make you the way you are. It's a beautiful thing to be such a giving person in the world, but we have to be careful about overgiving to others and undergiving to ourselves.

A healthy compromise is when two people state their needs and then meet in the middle, but most HSPs start in the middle. We already consider what the needs of the other person are and give up our needs a little too early in the process. This is a problem because the other person often doesn't even know you've started in the middle and still expects you to compromise even more. When we get so far away from having our needs met, we develop resentment, and that is one of the most damaging things in a relationship, whether personal or work-related. So, in essence, overgiving and overcompromising damages the relationship because resentment creates a disconnect and darkens every aspect of that relationship.

Another factor that makes it hard is HSPs often spend so much time learning other people's needs that they often don't know their own needs. And if we don't know our needs, we can't get them met, which is another factor in building resentment. Additionally, it's common for HSPs to take on other people's jobs or responsibilities, which also feeds resentment. So, in the end, overgiving harms both our personal relationships and our work environment.

A healthy relationship is when each person communicates and advocates to get their core needs met and then gives and receives equally in mutual compromising. So what do you do if you already have resentment?

Change takes time so be patient with yourself in the process. Starting with awareness is a good first step.
  • 1. Start tracking what areas you notice build resentment in your life. Are they connected to certain people or situations?

  • 2. Get clear about what your core needs are and how to communicate them. If you really struggle with this, try journaling, talking to someone close to you, or seeking out the support of a caring therapist.

  • 3. Know that the people that have the hardest time with you creating boundaries are probably the people that you need the most boundaries with. Remember that overgiving will likely cause damage to the relationship, so creating boundaries that honor your needs is part of every healthy relationship.

  • 4. Resentment also damages our ability to focus and concentrate and be efficient, so reducing resentment will improve our performance at work more than taking on everyone else's job description.

  • 5. The people that love and care about you the most want you to feel your best, so practicing the right amount of downtime to process, rest, and restore will help you have clarity about your needs.

Resentment eats up a lot of energy, so making these changes to lower your resentment and help you find more balance in your relationships will have long-lasting and far-reaching positive impacts. Sometimes when the resentment tank is too full, it can take time to reduce it, and getting professional support will often help you drain it faster. Once you reduce resentment, it's like a positive domino effect happens in every aspect of your life.

Julie Bjelland is a licensed psychotherapist, author, and founder of Sensitive Empowerment. As a leader in the field of high sensitivity, Julie has helped thousands of highly sensitive people (HSPs) around the world reduce their challenges, access their gifts, and truly flourish and is on a mission to empower sensitive people to live their best lives. Permission granted for use on
Tags: Attitude, Behavior, Character-Courage-Conscience, Relationships
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