Bitterness describes prolonged anger and resentment toward people or entities that you believe have wronged you.
Blaming forces outside yourself is the hallmark of bitterness.
Your perceived helplessness toward whatever left you bitter deepens your distress, but your health and well-being rely on freeing yourself from the persistently negative state of mind that bitterness creates.
Left unchecked, bitterness could weaken relationships, close you off from new opportunities, rob you of energy, ruin your health, or even provoke you to commit acts of vengeance.
- How to Overcome Bitterness: 9 Steps to Help You Let Go
- Step 1. Ask Yourself ‘Why Am I So bitter?'
- Step 2: Find Your Motivation to Change
- Step 3. Forgive Yourself
- Step 4. Talk to Someone
- Step 5. Get Some Exercise
- Step 6. Be on Guard Against Your Bitter Thoughts
- Step 7. Place a Value on Your Life Energy
- Step 8. Hold Yourself Accountable for Your Emotions
- Step 9. Focus on the Present and Future
How to Overcome Bitterness: 9 Steps to Help You Let Go
Dealing with bitterness is not an overnight process. You need to spend time reflecting on your feelings, convincing yourself to let go, and directing your energy toward the future.
Step 1. Ask Yourself ‘Why Am I So bitter?'
Bitterness does not emerge out of thin air. Something or many things happened that left you bitter.
Answering this question should be easy because your bitterness has kept the issues that angered you in the forefront of your mind for months and perhaps years.
At this stage, you should recognize your grievances and accept that your unhappy emotions were initially valid. View this step as a goodbye to past events that have hurt you.
Your feelings about what happened have created the mental habits and attitudes that are now sabotaging your outlook, and it's time to move on.
Step 2: Find Your Motivation to Change
You've worn your bitterness like bandages over a wound. Unfortunately, healing cannot take place when you wrap yourself in bitterness.
Although you're beginning to see that you need to stop being bitter, you're still psychologically stuck in a bad place.
A good exercise for finding the motivation to change is thinking about how being bitter has affected your life.
List the results that bitterness has produced. Writing down your thoughts transforms abstract feelings into a tangible form.
Common consequences of bitterness that might appear on your list include:
Once your list is written, hold it in your hand and read it aloud. You'll probably not like what you see and hear, but hope exists. You can release yourself from the darkness and anger.
Step 3. Forgive Yourself
As you begin to fully realize how much your bitterness has eroded your quality of life, you might feel angry at yourself.
Because bitterness has trained your brain to react negatively to almost everything, you might berate yourself for falling into such a state.
After years of feeling bitter, you're in the habit of judging everything and everyone harshly.
Reversing that trend starts with learning to treat yourself more gently.
Everyone makes mistakes, and you need to give yourself a second chance to embrace life. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and focus instead on forging a better future.
Step 4. Talk to Someone
The insights of a close friend, family member, or therapist could help you rebuild your thought patterns.
You can spend some time rehashing the issues that left you with a bitter attitude but only revisit these subjects for the purpose of setting the stage for change.
Talking to another person could help create closure around the hurtful events.
Hearing someone else encourage you to look to the future could increase your motivation to escape a bitter attitude.
Step 5. Get Some Exercise
Bitterness makes you withdraw from the world and stew in negative thoughts and feelings. Physical activity of almost any kind can counteract the physiological effects of anger and bitterness.
Endorphins released by your body during exercise naturally brighten your mood. This good feeling will help you transition to a more positive outlook.
What you do for exercise is up to you. Daily walks, bike rides, joining a soccer or basketball team, or strength training at the gym could all produce positive effects as long as you exercise regularly.
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Step 6. Be on Guard Against Your Bitter Thoughts
Building new mental habits takes time. When things upset you, your mind can easily slip back into blaming others, pessimism, and complaining.
Reflect on what your old mental patterns were like.
As you identify your specific bitter behaviors, like getting angry at small things or expecting failure, you can become mindful of them. When you catch yourself thinking or acting with bitterness, stop yourself.
Putting a positive spin on a situation may not be appropriate, but you don't have to accept anger as your default either. Acknowledge your negativity and then move past the emotion.
Step 7. Place a Value on Your Life Energy
In some ways, every day that you're alive is a gift. How much energy do you want to devote to something that upset you in the past?
Bitterness involves focusing on a negative event for a long time. Think about how much energy you've given to something that hurts you.
Then, consider how you could have benefited from directing that energy elsewhere.
Once you see value in your life energy, you'll become more judicious about how you spend it.
Step 8. Hold Yourself Accountable for Your Emotions
Even though you were a victim of bad events that left you bitter, you don't have to adopt victimhood as an identity. When victim is your frame of reference, you'll always attribute your feelings to outside influences.
Being angry about bad treatment is a valid response, but anger is not the path to redemption. You need to take responsibility for your feelings. You have control over how you respond to negative issues over the long term.
Ultimately, you have a choice between being bitter or choosing to move on emotionally after a negative experience.
Step 9. Focus on the Present and Future
Bitterness always grows a deep taproot that connects you to whatever caused you pain. Although the past is informative, and you can learn valuable lessons from bad events, you don't want to be held hostage by those negative feelings forever.
As you work to disconnect your thoughts from the past, you can look for good things in the moment. You can also start to set new goals.
If you're not pursuing new goals, you're never going to achieve anything positive.
You won't always succeed with goals, but at least you'll be engaged with your future instead of lamenting the past.
Have you learned how to not be bitter?
Learning to let go of bitterness and anger takes great effort, but your new emotional freedom will position you for future success.
As you release yourself from negativity, you could become a more attractive job candidate or partner. Adopting the role of the bitter victim, however, drains your energy and never solves problems.
You deserve to live outside the confines of bitterness that separate you from the joys that life has to offer. Overcoming bitterness is not easy for anyone, but neither is living with a bitter and hostile personality.
Start taking steps today to let go of bitterness and feel excited for life again.