Resentment and Disappointment

By Jim Selman | Bio

It occurs to me that in less than 36 hours about half of the nation and a good percentage of folks around the world will be disappointed and resentful that their candidate for the US Presidency will have lost. These are two of the most unproductive, in fact counter-productive moods we can have—especially resentment.

Resentment kills relationship. It is a mood that has embedded in it an accusatory frame of mind that someone or something is ‘against’ what we believe or want and will continue to be a threat in the future. Resentment is a mixture of fear, anger, lack of responsibility and entitlement that the world be the way we want it to be. Disappointment is pretty much the same, without the anger and accusation. In both cases, we’re relating to the world as if the circumstance is the cause of how we feel—the cause of our moods.

One of the things I have learned about moods is that, aside from the seeming ‘feeling’ component they convey, they are also a universal phenomenon that is always present for us as human beings. For example, moods create a context for background for whatever is going on in our lives, like a soundtrack on a movie. They also are involuntary and are generally ‘triggered’ (although sometimes we also have ‘chronic’ moods as a consequence of culture or particular histories). For example, the Russian mood of melancholy is usually in the background even when Russian people are happy and celebrating something.

Moods are also transportable and universal. If we’re in a bad mood, we can take it with us wherever we go and it will tend to ‘color’ everything. Of course we all recognize that moods are contagious and it only takes one really negative person to infect a whole room of people. Now imagine the impact of a 100 million or so simultaneous bad moods. It can be a downer for everyone.

So here is a challenge. No matter who wins, go out of your way to connect with someone who was on the losing side and just acknowledge their disappointment. Ask them to be open and supportive of the winner and apologize if you did or said anything during the race that they found offensive. DON’T BE A POOR WINNER. Acknowledge the effort and intentions of the other view and listen generously if they want to rail against the winner or defend the loser. Generosity doesn’t cost anything. And resisting someone else’s resentment can only make it worse and the price it will extract is more than any one can afford.

Good luck to both candidates and their supporters. Now it is time to “let the best man win” and rise above the contest. The die is cast. We all did our best. Let’s stand together when this is over, let go of any residual resentment or disappointment, and take action together to create a future that can work for all of us.


© 2008 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.