Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Entitlement = Resentment = Anger = Death (Part 5 of 5)

This is the final destination of resentment.  You don’t have to have read the headlines about the studies showing dangerous ill-health effects of anger; some call it the heart attack emotion.  Instinctively you know it is true.  But here is what you miss; this is what the articles don’t point out, what they usually don't tell you is that the harmful effects of anger come not from their frequency or intensity.  Rather they come from duration: how long it lasts.  Unhealthy levels of anger are those that last longer than a few minutes.  In other words, the real culprit is the seed of resentment, which quiets now and then but never stops.

For a model of how anger is supposed to function (in a normal well adjusted person), you need look no further than common house cats.  When your cat gets angry, he'll arch his back, hiss, slash at the drapes, run through the house, jump off the walls, etc.  However, within five minutes, he's licking himself like it never happened; if he was angry at you, he'll rub your legs and purr.  The animal responds to his perception of a noxious stimulus in the environment.  Following his natural instincts about anger, he either corrects his perception (there's not really a threat) or adapts to it - the dog has to live here, too. As quickly as it came over him, the anger is completely gone.

But we don't do anger that way.  We think about it afterwards.  We dwell of how things should be and how unfair they are, how we were disregarded, devalued, disrespected, or wrongly rejected.  We fantasize about things didn't happen: "When he said that, I should have said this.  Then he would have said that, and I would have said this!  He would have replied with...and I would have...." Such imaginary dialogue can recur, off and on, for days, months or even years.

The end result of this is predictable, long-lasting resentment can cause depression and lower immune system efficiency - if you're resentful a lot you probably experience lots of little aches and pains - headaches, stomachaches, muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, etc.  You may get frequent colds and bouts of flu.  Admit it, you know someone like that, it might even be you.  Left to go its course, chronic resentment puts you at higher risk of hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and cancer.

But that isn’t the worst of it, the resentment-laden consciousness cries out to be altered by something - a drink, drug, someone else’s wife or husband,  large doses of caffeine or nicotine, or some compulsive behavior that will ease the tension, dissipate the sour feeling, energize the tiredness, or relieve the leaden mood, because after all “you deserve it”.  Affairs, drinking and drugging, new toys, new thrills create an illusion of power that mitigates the powerlessness of resentment.  It is this illusion of power that twelve-step programs target as the primary barrier to recovery - the first "Step" is admitting to powerlessness over the drug.  

It is the illusion of power and entitlement that traps you into a lifestyle of unrepentant sin, a lifestyle that becomes progressively more self-center, and more destructive to yourself and those around you.  As opposed to reality and truth, resentment greatly distorts thinking - through oversimplification, confirmation bias, inability to grasp other perspectives, and an inability to distinguish thoughts from reality.  Over time, resentment becomes a world view and a way of life.  Because the resentful have to devalue others to protect their fragile egos, resentment inevitably leads to some form of verbal or emotional abuse and, eventually to contempt and disgust.  In the end is the illusion of power that traps you into fooling yourself that you are somehow owed all that you steal, that you are somehow entitled.  When in reality and more importantly in God’s eyes, it is your lifestyle that has become contemptible and disgusting.  

For the originator of entitlement simply look at Satan, he believes he is entitled, is that really who you want to pattern your life after, all the while professing to believe in God?   Entitlement, such a dangerous thought, the seed of much of the sin that you choose to commit begins with one simple thought, "I am entitled".  Painful as it is to admit, you are not entitled, no more than Satan is.  Don't let that truth get too far away from you in life, or you will receive in death exactly what you are entitled to.  

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