Resentment Will Destroy You

Nurses and other healthcare workers who regularly work with difficult people are prone to resentment, which is a deeply indignant feeling of strong animosity we experience when we perceive that a person or group has wronged us in one way or another. Resentment peels away at the soul by reducing positivity and increasing negativity. So how do we deal with these powerful feelings of resentment? Nurses Stress 101 Article


Resentment is the strong, indignant feeling of pointed animosity we experience when we believe a person or group has wronged us in some way. Although resentment is a common emotional state, it is definitely not one of the more fleeting ones. In fact, resentment can seep into our thought processes and persist like a non-healing wound day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, if we don't come to grips with this potent emotion.

As nurses, we all undergo resentment at different points in our careers. After all, it is easy to become swept away in the powerful current of feelings when a frequent flyer patient insists you are doing a horrible job after you arrive a couple of minutes late with his Q2 hour shot of Dilaudid. It is easy to ride the roller coaster of negative emotions when the rude surgeon treats you as if his postoperative patient is the only one you're caring for. It is easy to hop aboard the train of bitterness after your unit manager brings up a silly complaint regarding family members who reported you for not finding recliners and sodas quickly enough.

However, many nurses fail to recognize that fostering resentments over past wrongdoings only serves to hurt us more than the people who are the targets of our angst. By bottling up resentful emotions, we are essentially harming an important aspect of our psyche. Resentment zaps away at the core of our spirits by destroying positivity and keeping us weighted down with negativity. The people who wound us are unlikely to lose much sleep over the manner in which they have treated us. Meanwhile, some nurses and healthcare workers live in a perpetual stew of antagonism that, if left unchecked, results in physical health issues and increased stress levels. The following groups of people commonly trigger feelings of resentment in us:


Nurses who work a full-time schedule naturally spend about a third of their lives at the workplace. Our places of employment can be filled with coworkers who may have an interesting array of personalities. You are fortunate if you get along with your colleagues, but many of us contend with gossip, competition, bad attitudes and other poor interpersonal behaviors that can trigger resentment deeply within us. If you are having a justifiable problem with a coworker, holding a grudge is the worst action you can take. Tackle the concern professionally with the coworker, or if you feel that uncomfortable with the person, solicit the assistance of management or human resources to arrive at a resolution.


Patients can be a constant source of resentment, especially if they are demanding, dishonest or abusive. Something about the strain of illness causes some patients to openly voice their nasty opinions against nursing staff who are doing their best within the constraints of today's harried healthcare system. Whether it's the ETOH-dependent guy who threw a urinal full of pee in your direction in the emergency department, the home health client who accused you of incompetence when you changed her dressing, or the little old lady who starts cursing at you after receiving a cold meal tray, bad patient behavior can produce an internal river of rage that will drown us if we dwell on these incidents.

Family Members

Family members of patients can sometimes be worse than the patients themselves. Their unrealistic expectations, unreasonable complaints, infrequent exaggerations, impractical demands, and occasional lies can conjure up hard feelings of resentment that last many years after the wrongdoings were carried out. Poor behavior from family members can generate negative emotions that attach to our souls like flesh-eating bacteria if we don't get a handle on what we are feeling.


Physicians can serve as yet another source of resentment, particularly if they have a difficult temperament, engage in verbal abusive, or yell at nursing staff. There's something about having 24-hour a day, around-the-clock responsibility for many patients that causes some doctors to snap under pressure. Most physicians are wonderful professionals and collaborators, but the few bad apples who take their frustrations out on others can evoke deeply rooted resentment in nurses that endures over the years.

How does one deal with resentment? Several actions can be taken to address resentful urges. First, we can choose to forgive. In fact, people report that a virtual weight was lifted off their backs after choosing to forgive for perceived injustices. Another way of dealing with resentment is to let go. Letting go of resentful feelings involves a process of gradually eradicating bitterness against the aforementioned groups of people. Of course, seeking professional help is an additional method of dealing with bottled-up anger.

Addressing resentment often entails a healthy degree of introspection. Holding onto resentment leads to profound ingratitude toward others and society as a whole. However, once the resentful feelings disappear from your life, you'll feel better and be able to experience the gratitude that has seemed to elude you. Be thankful for you what you have and everything you've accomplished because you are worth it.

Another great article from TheCommuter. I sure wish I could let go of the strong resentment I feel for my co-workers. I have never met such obnoxious people in my entire life.

Specializes in Psych, MRDD,.

Blackcat99~I hear you!

30 yrs ago when I started it was like a sisterhood & even if co-workers weren't people you would socialize with, we were all there for the same purpose & it was about the patients & everyone did their part professionally & even managed to have a little fun sometimes, laughing @ things others wouldn't understand.:rolleyes:

Unfortunately now, it is sometimes more of a job staying pleasant, professional & remembering to put principles ahead of personalities, than anything the medical work could throw at us.

We can each take comfort that we're not alone in feeling this way.


For some reason, I can't let it go. My boss has been upsetting the unit with all her police actions in the unit on a daily basis. Im beginning to want to work at night. I know I will eventually have to let it go, we make mistakes, I know and can admit it, but if our bosses are not there for moral support and just be the hallway monitor so to speak and so fast to write us up...our unit is suffering from this disenchanted environment of always fearing our license is on the line for any reason.

help me get thru this please...

I thought about it and Im done with it. I am over it!!!!

going to work and will ignore the negative lingers!!!

Its all about Positivity!!!!

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
Im beginning to want to work at night.
I've been working the night shift for the past four years. It is the only way I can cope. I become anxious with all the interaction and demands placed on me during day shift. In addition, I dislike working under a microscope, so nights are better for working.