Banish Bitterness and Become Beautiful
Have you ever spoken to an old person? Think about all the old people you have met. I bet a couple of them stand out in your mind as people you would love to be around more often, people who radiate beauty in spite of wrinkles, people who are unequivocally attractive. I bet a couple others stand out in your mind as energy siphons… people you don’t want to spend much time around. You can handle being around them periodically out of duty or love, but you’re never feeling full when you leave their presence. And still another person probably stands out in your mind as bitter and angry and unpleasant to be around. This person repels you, and you determine in your heart never to be like them. Aging is a funny thing, for as we age our attractiveness is based more and more on the hidden man of the heart.
What Is Bitterness?
Bitterness, according to Google, is, “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.” Urban Dictionary defines it like this. (Note that I made a small edit in the language to keep our site clean.) “A feeling of deep anger and resentment. Bitterness is an emotion which encompasses both anger and hate, often people who are bitter appear to the world as just going around (mad) at everyone and everything. However bitterness is often a result of some past event which has hurt, scarred and jaded the person.”
Have you ever interacted with a bitter person? What was it like?
I think at least 2 types of bitter people could exist. Type 1 is pretty much negative and unpleasant all the time until you dig through their outer shell and find their soft heart. You find that they have beautiful souls which they try to protect with a tough exterior. Type 2 puts on a nice, kind face to the outside world, but when you dig through their layers you find a rotten, stinking core that gushes out at you in a tide of focused and undeserved rage.
The essence of bitterness is that these horrible feelings and attitudes and actions are blamed on some event and/or person in the past. So instead of taking responsibility for the rot and hardness and fixing it, bitter people often direct or miss-attribute their angry feelings toward a new person or event. If you ever cross a bitter person, he or she may choose not to forgive you. A bitter person may combine her new anger at you with old anger from her past and come at you with a vengeance, trying to destroy your reputation and harm you emotionally.
While I personally don’t have any experience with physical abuse, I have seen the ugly side of an emotionally abusive, bitter person. And I imagine that a large number of physically abusive people also deal with bitterness. I imagine that these bitter people may have been hurt by by someone they can’t fully get revenge on, for whatever reason. Perhaps they felt victimized, and STILL feel victimized since they are hanging onto bitter feelings. And consciously or unconsciously they find what they believe to be an easier mark and take the rage out on him/her.
Of course, let’s remember to include bitter people who don’t have a malicious bone in their bodies. Sometimes people may not intentionally try to hurt anyone. They are just so hurt, bitter, and unhappy on the inside that unpleasantness leaks from them during many social interactions. And let’s remember to include those people who intentionally try NOT to leak unpleasantness on others. They are just so drained on the inside that they have very little or none to give in a social interaction. And they may feel to others like an energy siphon.
Am I Bitter?
If you live long enough, I am fairly confident you will experience a situation that could leave you bitter… IF you let it. The GREAT NEWS is that you can make a conscious choice to not allow yourself to become bitter. And if you examine yourself and find bitterness hiding in your heart, you can make a conscious choice to banish it!
Life comes in many stages, and one unpleasant stage is grief. If someone has wronged you in a BIG way, you will likely go through a grieving process in order to heal. There are 5 stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. Don’t EVER feel bad for going through the grieving process! Feel to heal. You can be a completely normal person and still experience these emotions. It’s ok. Just do your best to move through the stages at a normal pace. Try not to get stuck permanently at anger.
If you feel you are stuck in the angry phase, try taking out a piece of paper or the notepad on your phone and articulate your feelings in great detail. Write a letter to the person you are angry at and explain why you are angry and chew them out in the letter. But don’t send it! Just use the exercise as an emotional release. Give yourself a few days or weeks to calm down. Then, if appropriate and if the situation still needs to be addressed, ask the person if you can chat and deal with the issue in a kind manner. If you are nervous about the interaction, try writing out what you want to say ahead of time. And edit your words so they come across in the kindest way possible, while still being quite firm where needed. Decide what unkind remarks can be left out. And craft the best approach to dealing with the other person. I recommend the book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” if you need further help. Hopefully your preparedness will help you in dealing with the other person.
If you realize that you overreacted in a BIG way and experienced far more anger than the situation demanded, that could be a sign that you still have anger or bitterness from something in the past.
Banish Bitterness Because of Science
One of my current favorite scientific experiments was conceived of by Masaru Emoto, a Japanese researcher. His work shows that water responds to human emotion. The experiment is done by photographing water as it freezes, while exposed to various specific stimuli. They experimented with music, prayer, and words. Essentially, good words (such as love and gratitude, thank you, and truth), classical music, and prayer produced beautiful ice crystals! Ugly words (such as you disgust me, evil, and you fool) and heavy metal music produced ugly ice crystals.
Here is a link to a page where you can scroll down and see the pictures for yourself.
Obviously, take this study with a grain of salt until it is successfully reproduced by multiple other people under stringent conditions. Still, it is enough to make me think!
If we guestimate that the human body is up to 60% water, what could the ugly essence of bitterness be doing to our cells?
Banish Bitterness Because of the Bible
One of the biggest ways the devil tries to rob us and rob God is through attempts to make us bitter. Think about it. God created us in His image as social creatures who are capable of feeling immense joy in connection with others and with Him. We are capable of feeling immense pain when that connection is broken, and so is He.
How much pain does bitterness cause in people’s hearts? How much does it leak out and destroy relationships? How many times do people give up on church and give up on a beautiful relationship with God because of bitterness? How many times do people blame God for the consequences of the sins of evil people? How many church splits are caused, in part, by bitterness or division?
How much JOY, that God intended us to experience, are we robbed of if we are bitter?
Our wise and loving God has included some thoughts about bitterness and wise living in the Bible. I am including some, and you may be able to think of others and include them in the comments.
Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Banish Bitterness Because it is Ugly
Bitterness is ugly. Think of the bitter people you know. How much time do you want to spend around them?
One scientific study suggests that the single biggest predictor of happiness is social contentedness. How socially connected… and by extension happy… will you be if people don’t want to spend time around you because of your bitter spirit?
It could be said that bitterness is a pill you swallow, hoping someone else will die.
Congratulations on making the choice to banish ugly, joy stealing bitterness from your heart! Let’s replace it with beautiful attributes! Think of what bitterness is and what causes it, and then do the beautiful opposite.
1. Instead of being unreasonably angry at everyone and everything, examine your heart and your memories to determine the root cause of your excessive anger.
2. Instead of letting the anger and hurt silently fester, arrange a meeting or phone call and discuss the situation calmly with the appropriate person or people. (This may be the person who hurt you, or if abuse was involved it may be the authorities and family members who were affected or who should have protected you.)
3. Instead of making your forgiveness contingent on an apology and change from the other person, forgive freely!
4. Instead of allowing the other person to cause further damage in your life, set appropriate boundaries.
5. Instead of dwelling on past hurts, after you have properly dealt with them and moved through all the stages of the grieving process, let it go. Forgive. If you catch yourself dwelling on it, intentionally think of something good and dwell on that.
A forgiving spirit with appropriate boundaries, who deals with situations instead of letting them fester forever, is a beautiful spirit.
Feel free to comment and share this post with your friends.