Bitterness– A toxic inside.21, Dec, 2014, by Seema Bhatnagar
Do you like bitter food, bitter people or bitter and harsh comments? Well, I guess, the most probable answer would be, …..No, in fact a big NO. We have an inherent tendency to reject and dislike bitterness, doesn't matter whether it is in food or in behaviour. Disliking for bitterness conveys a very important fact that our body doesn't enjoy bitterness in any form.
Anger, ill-will, jealousies are some common expressions of bitterness which we experience on daily basis. Sometimes certain situations in life make us to carry it inside for years and years and prevent us from enjoying our relationships with others.
Generally it is experienced, when you feel somebody has taken your advantage and you cannot protest, when somebody has breached your trust, when somebody performed better than you, when somebody insulted you, when somebody rejected you or when you had a very bad experience in some way.
It is something which we all have experienced at different stages of life and perhaps always carrying it in a small amount inside. It could be against a person, thing, activity, place, event or a group of people. The moment that particular object of bitterness comes in front, it reminds of all the negative moments that one has experienced because of it and then it further triggers a thought of insecurity, discomfort and friction. Overall, it creates negativity in full throttle.
Why do we feel bitterness?
Fundamentally, it is due to lack of understanding towards other persons’ perspective and keeping personal perspective upright, perfect and supreme.
When you are expecting something else but the other person behaves against your expectations then you feel a bit sidelined, ignored or rejected. This triggers a thought of inferiority. The main culprit is personal ego - it constantly prompts individual to show superiority over others. If unable to experience that feeling of superiority one feels offended and want to retaliate to feel satisfied – and this is a starting point of bitterness. Due to lack of communication skills, in most situations people don't talk it out and prefer to remain silent on the issue. This means a continuous simmering of issue for years and years.
Carrying inside bitterness means you are constantly alert to avoid that person, place or thing and that means you are wasting your energy which could otherwise be utilized for something more creative for personal growth.
People who are bitter cannot see others happy and would always find reasons to make others feel so. For that matter, they always have at least one good reason to criticize anybody; because of this, they never reach to a point of developing joyous relationships with others.
My personal experience.
I also experienced bitterness several times and at all those times I felt crippled from inside and felt lack of strength and loneliness. It wasn't a good experience at all. My typical reaction after experiencing bitterness was to sulk and to completely withdraw from that individual or subject. If it wasn't possible to sulk than I would unduly criticize and make that person feel low and worthless. Doing that would not reduce my bitterness but there used to be a pleasure of taking some revenge for a pain caused to me. I used to be constantly on my alert if other person is trying to criticize me or trying to hurt me, even if it was not I will create my own interpretations and would judge that person as my critic and will avoid meeting that person in every possible way.
Since I was too weak in receiving criticism so any insignificant, petty and trivial criticism would hurt me deeply and I would keep myself ready with arms and weapons to fight back. Going by this mindset, almost everybody I met in life had contributed in raising levels of my bitterness.
Harshness in my talks, avoiding that person in a group, directly or indirectly criticizing him/her and sometimes name-calling as well used to be my common expression of bitterness. There was no end to it. I always considered myself important and felt low and bitter on receiving anything negative from others.
Now, looking back, it amazes me how weak I was and anybody (any Tom, Dick and Harry) had a power to give me bitterness which after consuming I was harming myself only. With my constant endeavour to make myself stronger from inside, now it really doesn’t matter how hard somebody is criticizing me, I have developed a tolerance towards it. There might be some instances where I am justified to argue for my criticism but trivial and insignificant criticism really doesn’t matter at all. I have stopped wasting my energy for things which will really do not matter in next one week, one month and one year.
If you pay attention and look back, you would realize how that particular event of bitterness melted away and forgotten after some time doesn’t matter how intensely bitter it was. It is simply because life throws so many things and compels us to forget things which will not matter in future. So, it is really not wise to carry any kind of bitterness inside, it is an unnecessary burden. You and others as well would forget the intensity of scathe in some duration then why to carry it for too long. It unnecessary complicates the relationships and spoils the fun of togetherness.
Recently, met one of my Aunts and I was surprised to see her intensity of bitterness. During conversations, she would always find one good reason to criticize anybody doesn’t matter how much interaction level she has with other person. She always makes a point that whatever she thinks is perfect and right and if you object to it, you are ill-mannered. After repeated instances, something inside me made me to save other person's dignity and I offered unsolicited advice of not saying anything bad to anybody but she tried to justify her actions by giving a reason of harsh circumstances in life. When I opposed her stance she felt uncomfortable and lashed back for ignoring the difference of age. Personally, I feel, circumstances of life has nothing to do with it, it is more about personal ego and ignoring other person's perspective which fills an individual with bitterness.
Due to personal ego and inability to communicate openly with others people carry bitterness for the whole life time. It doesn’t really resolve anything but it definitely drains personal energy and takes a toll on health.
What stops us from being sweet with others?
A constant insecurity that others might hurt or take undue advantage prevents individual to open up with others. Instead of taking conversations and talks in a positive perspective there is an underneath fear of being attacked for some personal flaw or weakness. Due to this personal insecurity even light comments or friendly teasers become sharp arrows. This is a fundamental reason why people can't act simple and sweet.
Picture clicked by Seema, using Nikon DSLR DX33, at Chrysanthemum Show, 2014, Chandigarh, India
Do you know, bitterness can potentially snatch opportunities from you, because it creates blockages inside and doesn’t let us work amicably with others? It is like a slow poison for relationships and of course for self too. If not addressed in time it can do unimaginable damage to mental and physical health.
Socially, bitter people are avoided by others, mentally, continuous feeling of anxiety and stress to fight back raises stress levels, overall, it spoils health from every possible angle.
Today we experience bitterness almost in all walks of life. Some of the common instances where bitterness is commonly seen are - speaking to shopkeepers, they are not willing to show their products if they have sensed that your pockets are not deep enough, people avoid offering seat to seniors and challenged in public transport, children are bitter to their parents, students are bitter to their teachers and vice versa too, honking and using abusive language while driving. Somewhere, each one of us is spitting out bitterness every day for one reason or other but we somehow justify our behaviour considering it as a needed response.Why this is becoming an acceptable behaviour when we know it is really of no value to give and take? Media in the name of entertainment shows how there can be different ways to express personal bitterness and it is ok to be bitter towards others.
I really feel pity for bitter people because they are constantly consuming poison in every situation of life and becoming a pot of poison themselves. It harms them most than to others because others would forget it in some time but the one who is spitting will continue generating this poison.
How to overcome?
On knowing, how harmful it is for personal health, it makes sense to take some meaningful steps to overcome this habit of developing bitterness. Like any other habit it can be overcome provided there is a whole hearted commitment and willingness. Following are some guidelines which can prove to be helpful in overcoming this tendency.
“It is better to live in peace than in bitterness and strife.” ~Confucius
#1- Talk it out.
In majority of the situations it is the misunderstanding of the issue that cause bitterness. Talking out issue at length can very well resolve mutual bitterness. It might be possible that either you or other party lacks communication skills, in that case consult a professional who can understand issue from both ends and can facilitates easy resolution. Doing this, would prove helpful in removing all blocks and will resolve mutual bitterness.
#2- Drop your ego.
The fundamental reason of triggering bitterness is personal ego. Dropping ego and giving fair and honest attempt to understand others perspective removes even the far possibility of mutual bitterness. Dropping ego is surely a tough challenge but this is the only way to remove or avoid personal bitterness towards others. Read full article on ego here.
Have you ever seen behaviour of children, how quickly they forget the fight and come again together to play with same zest and zeal without even saying sorry to each other? It is because they do not have a big fat ego. Be childlike and throw away your bitterness.
#3- Develop taste for criticism.
Personal criticism is difficult to accept and this is another strong reason for mutual bitterness. Taking criticism in the right spirit can avoid many situations that could otherwise trigger mutual bitterness.
It is difficult to see the positive qualities in others when you are full of bitterness; you suspect every person and situation as a potential cause of bitterness. You really find hard to appreciate others for their good qualities because somewhere your bitterness prevents you to do that.
Throwing away bitterness is like detoxifying yourself, because it harms more to the person who carry it than the one to whom it has been directed to.
Working on to overcome bitterness means you are inviting love, harmony and peace in your life. It will absolutely help you to connect better with others and you would experience your world is not limited to you only but includes others who are absolutely different from you.
This is the best detoxification you can think of for a great health.