It’s important to note that bitterness is one of many things that can help to contribute to unhappiness and poor mental health. In fact, persistent bitterness can actually result in feelings of hostility and anger that when they are strong enough can actually affect both a person’s physical and mental health.
Many Negative Emotions
There are many negative emotions like regret or sadness that can affect people but bitterness seems to have quite a different impact on people. It seems that failure is one of the more common reasons for people to harbor bitterness. You will also find anger and accusations go along with that bitterness.
Now unlike regret, which is mostly about self-blame, those harboring bitterness tend to point the finger at something or someone else and they try to lay the blame for their failures on something other than themselves.
Harboring of Bitterness
It’s been shown that when one harbors bitterness for a long time it can often show patterns of biological dysregulation which is a physiological impairment that actually affects the immune response system as well as their metabolism which can lead to illness. It also can cause a person to have bouts of depression throughout life if they hold onto that bitterness.
Is Bitterness a Mental Disorder?
Today, there are some experts who have proposed the idea that with some people holding onto bitterness without ever letting go could point to the fact that perhaps bitterness itself is its own mental illness. One psychiatrist by the name of Michael Linden even argued that it should be categorized as a medical illness and be called post-traumatic embitterment disorder or PTED.
Dr. Linden has estimated that up to two percent of the world’s population tends to be embittered and if given the proper name such as PTED, those suffering from it might better be served by receiving therapeutic attention that he believes bitterness deserves.
Bitterness Can Be Avoided
While the argument continues on about whether or not bitterness is a mental disorder or not, many say that bitterness can be avoided. They believe if people experience failure in their lives can find different ways in which to fulfill their goals, they can avoid experiencing bitterness.
However, if a person can’t find alternatives to their personal goals, then they should disengage from their futile efforts and then reengage in something that is just as meaningful. In other words, they need to seek out something else that gives them passion.
Switching directions and reengaging in something else is called self-regulation. By practicing self-regulation people can help themselves to avoid the emotion of bitterness. Effective therapeutic intervention is going to hinge on the person finding different ways to self-regulate themselves.
No One Person is the Same
There are cases however, that trying to overcome bitterness will demand far more than just self-regulation. When their bitterness comes from blaming others for their failures that recovery may then need to involve those they are blaming and this can be quite complicated.
For some people dealing with bitterness, there might be a need for something else to enable them to overcome their negative emotions, and often times that something else is simply forgiveness.
Forgiveness and Letting Go
Those suffering from bitterness and can’t seem to be able to let it go, it’s important that they find a way to get to the root of that bitterness. If they discover that it is a person whom they may feel have wronged them in one way or another, it is important they learn to embrace forgiveness. By learning how to forgive those whom they see as the problem, the better it will be for them in the long run. By learning how to embrace forgiveness will, in the end, bring them gratitude, peace, hope, and even joy.
Forgiveness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. However, what it does entail for each person who decides to forgive is the decision to simply let it go. Let go of the anger, thoughts of revenge, and resentment, which all leads to the bitterness they might be harboring.
Once someone makes the decision to forgive someone it might even lead them to feelings of empathy, understanding, and even compassion for the person they once held so much bitterness toward.