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You will probably agree with me when I say that being bitter is a perfect recipe for an unhappy, burdened life.
There are different stages and types of bitterness, but it typically starts with anger or emotional hurt. I have been down that path, and am happy to say that there’s a solution to all kinds of bitterness. In fact, simply realizing that you are becoming bitter is the perfect way to start treating your emotional hurt.
In this post, you will learn a number of simple steps to help you stop being bitter.
What Causes Bitterness?
Psychology Today states that “all forms of bitterness starts from one feeling; anger.”
It is human to be angry. We all get riled up every once in a while. However, holding on to that anger for too long will lead to bitterness.
Diamond Stephan (Ph.D.) contends that bitterness arises directly from frustrations. However, he also says that sometimes facing fate and situations that we can’t control can also be a reason to be bitter.
Regardless of the cause, bitterness is something that we are better off without. Let’s get busy getting over our bitterness.
What You Will Learn
- What Causes Bitterness?
- The Seven Steps to Stop Living a Bitter Life
- 1. Diagnose: Self-evaluation is the key to unlocking the problem.
- 2. Planning for action.
- 3. Let go of grudges, and simply forgive.
- 4. Stop talking about the past.
- 5. Seek professional help (if necessary).
- 6. Spend quality time with close friends and family.
- 7. Go out and meet new people.
The Seven Steps to Stop Living a Bitter Life
1. Diagnose: Self-evaluation is the key to unlocking the problem.
The American Psychiatric Association actually classifies embitterment as a psychological disease that requires treatment.
But diagnosing your bitterness doesn’t require a shrink. All you need to do is have a chat with yourself or a friend. The aim of this self-diagnosis is to find out why you are bitter, and what the cause of your bitterness is.
For most happiness-related issues like this one, self-diagnosis works pretty well. In fact, realizing what the issue is on your own is the best way to go about it.
Every time I feel my mood spiraling downwards, I simply sit down and have a serious chat with my inner self.
While doing this self-diagnosis, you should ask yourself the following three questions:
- What frustrations have you faced during your day?
- Once you start feeling bitter, what thoughts immediately cross your mind? Have you had these thoughts during this period? Most people always have a particular set of thoughts when they are bitter.
- What is your typical response when you start feeling bitter? It might be withdrawal from friends, a dark mood, or even a nonexistent appetite. Have you experienced any of these?
Your self-evaluation should be introspective and retrospective in nature.
This means that you should retrace the steps that brought you to your current situation. This way, you can quickly figure out the exact reason for your bitterness.
What signs should you look out for?
There are several signs that you should look out for:
- You think you have been given a raw deal in life. Your mind is always shouting that you deserve better than what you are getting.
- You feel like everyone is against you.
- When communicating, you are always poking holes and critiquing, rather than searching for solutions.
- You hold grudges even over the smallest of issues.
Meditation is the best way to engage in self-searching.
I have always gone about self-diagnosis through simple meditation.
Though it might be tough when starting, meditations becomes more effective as you learn to harness your energy and focus.
2. Planning for action.
Most people simply ride into solutions. They don’t set out a plan, or even articulate the intended objectives of the process.
But failing to come up with a plan is planning to fail.
The planning step should be a direct consequence of your self-searching process.
In fact, planning should be a secondary self-searching process. You can write down the problem, formulate positive answers, and strategize around those answers.
Planning will help you set objectives and timelines. It will also offer you a chance to reflect on who to consult if things become too difficult on your own.
Planning also involves making choices about what to do and what not to do. For instance, you should plan to read great books on happiness like this Happier Human book, and try not to dwell on the things that have led to your bitterness.
3. Let go of grudges, and simply forgive.
One thing you have to do if you want to let go of bitterness is learn to forgive consistently, and without conditions.
Most of us think that forgiving someone excuses the person in the wrong, but that is not necessarily the case. It simply means we are expelling their actions from our minds so they no longer plague us. By forgiving, you are choosing to let go of past events and all the pent-up anger that you have related to them.
Not only should you learn to forgive others for what they do to you, you should also learn to forgive yourself for all the past mistakes you have made.
In addition to making the choice to let go of grudges, it is crucial that you also pass on this communication to those you are forgiving.
Facing people can be daunting, but it’s the best way to resolve any issues that lie between you. Besides, meeting them in person will also help you set a new foundation for your relationship going forward.
4. Stop talking about the past.
There’s always the temptation to talk poorly about someone who has wronged you. But that’s the perfect way to slide back into bitterness.
Though you might feel tempted to talk about it, practicing forgiveness and finding happiness requires that you overcome these temptations. Revisiting the hurtful things that people have done to you interferes with your recovery from bitterness.
5. Seek professional help (if necessary).
Whether or not you need professional help will depend on your specific situation. Some people simply can’t get over their bitterness on their own. If that is the case, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to a professional for help.
Therapists, counselors, psychologists, and other professionals can help equip you with the tools you need to forgive those who have hurt you and let go of your bitterness.
6. Spend quality time with close friends and family.
When you are upset and hurting, reach out to the people who you love (and who love you) to help you work through it.
Spending time with family and close friends allows you to vent and then move on. They will help you to focus on the positives, and bring happiness back into your life rather than allowing you to dwell on your bitterness alone.
7. Go out and meet new people.
Because you are trying to be a new, happier, more positive version of yourself, you may find value in finding new, happy people to share your life.
Many people who are bitter tend to withdraw from others. But isolation simply causes you to dwell on your bitterness, and cause you to feel alone.
Meeting new people isn’t necessary a cure for a bitter life, but it is part of the process of getting over your bitterness. Just remember not to bring your bitterness into your new relationships. The goal is to surround yourself with people who help you be a happier person—and you want to give the same gift to them.
Lastly, be grateful for all of the new people in your life. Learn to express love and gratitude to this support system whenever you can.
If your life is defined by resentment, anger, hate, jealousy, and a constant feeling that you are overlooked, you probably are living with bitterness.
The seven steps we have provided in this post will help you transcend your bitter feelings. But remember that the first thing you need before you even start these steps is an intention to become happier. No one can force you to give up your bitterness if you want to hang onto it.
Finally, one proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.