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Bitterness bites: know how to bite back
by TeenHelp July 5th 2019, 02:26 PM

Bitterness bites: know how to bite back
By Cassie (cynefin)

Bitterness, or an intense type of anger, may surface if someone has experienced a lot and has had difficulty remaining positive. It also surfaces if people are unable to cope in the face of stressful events. People are often bitter when they feel they have been wronged; they might be entirely bitter or use bitterness with sarcasm or humor. Bitterness can be reserved for a certain person, group (of people or an organization), a religion, or the world as a whole. Bitter feelings tend to use a lot of energy; they are difficult for both the person experiencing the emotions and the people around them.

Signs of a bitter person

People who are bitter may have difficulty accepting positive events. This is because they are often waiting for something to go wrong. Some also have trouble feeling positive towards important people in their lives, especially those who seem to "have it all." Jealousy is another sign of bitterness, especially when people compare themselves to others and wonder why things aren't going as well for them. The victim mentality is occasionally present as well.

Some have a hard time letting things go, even when things seem simple to others. For instance, someone might remain angry at their partner or their friend for accidentally breaking their mug months or years after it has been broken. Note that most people have experienced more in depth things in addition to scenarios deemed as simple. A mug is more of an everyday example.

On that note, someone who is struggling might often relive or retell the stories of what they experienced. Talking about it can be beneficial, but rumination can keep the person stuck in that event and with the anger. They may also frequently talk about current things that are not going their way. These conversations are also rehearsed in someone's mind.

Being unable or unwilling to forgive is also associated with bitterness. This may ring true for some but not others. Whether or not forgiveness is needed to heal is something that is commonly debated, and people have to do what is best for themselves in this regard. They may find forgiveness therapeutic, or they may be able to work towards peace without it.

Some, though not all, people who are bitter struggle to implement advice and work on themselves. They often do not make change, perhaps because the bitterness is known and is a comfort in comparison to unknown feelings. To some, feeling bitter is easier than working on themselves and that is understandable: change is not easy.

How bitterness impacts people

People who are bitter are usually unhappy and antisocial since it is hard for them to be happy for others. As a result, this isolation can cause more harm by fueling the unhappiness. In a sense, they relive their anger and the events they experienced. These feelings are tiring, so someone may have a lack of energy and other physical ailments.

Other people are also harmed by someone's bitterness. They may sense some projection and hostility. It might feel as though the bitter person is toxic or that they are a punching bag of sorts. It is easy for others to get swallowed up into bitterness and it is often difficult to be around the bitter person.

How to bite back

If you or someone you know is bitter, consider working on those feelings to improve quality of life.

Acknowledge the events surrounding the bitterness. It's important to look at why you're feeling that way. Know that whatever it was likely was wrong but also know that you cannot change what has happened. You can only move forward from here.

Write it out. If you are angry at a certain person or religion, for instance, write your feelings out. Write a letter to whoever you're angry with so those feelings no longer eat at you. You can keep the letter if you choose, or you can find a creative way to destroy it, thereby showing your commitment to recovery.

Take deep breaths. If you feel yourself easily triggered by something small, walk away (if possible), count, and take several deep breaths. Let your exhaling resemble letting go of the anger.

Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, take notice of something that makes you smile. It can be anything from the weather, a favorite outfit, an animal, or nature. Write about how it makes you happy and what is important to you. This will help you focus on the positives if you previously struggled to do that.

Don't compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others can make it feel impossible to be happy for them. Instead, try to be happy and supportive but remind yourself that you are taking your own path towards where you're going in your life.

Seek outside help if possible. A counselor or another professional is likely to teach you anger management techniques and use additional forms of treatment to benefit you.

If someone you know is bitter, try to gently talk to them. If it's someone close to you, you can sit down with them and let them know that you've noticed some bitterness and would like to support them. Eventually, it might help to explain your feelings: you might want to tell them that they are sometimes difficult to be around.

Don't feel like you have to be around the bitter person. You can support them without fueling their bitterness. For instance, you can objectively listen to their discussions. You don't have to openly agree or disagree. You can also let them know that you are there for them but you have to look after yourself as well.
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