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Feeling Bitter? By Sandra Nolan

Samantha Wills

Don’t let a bad situation bring out the worst in you.

Contributing writer, Susan Nolan.

Contributing writer, Susan Nolan.

Life is too precious to waste holding grudges or feeling embittered by what curveballs life has thrown at you.

I get it, life can suck at times - rarely more so than when you are trying your best and have only good intentions, and suddenly a curveball is thrown your way, leaving you frustrated, confused and probably angry, considering nothing you’ve done in the past should warrant such an event to occur.

As humans, we know that life is not always going to be a bed of roses. Throughout different phases of our lives, there will be thorns to prick us, test us and at times, bring us to our knees. When this happens, we lose sight of ourselves, we lose sight of happiness and we can spiral into a deep black hole where depression, anger, resentment and confusion dwell.

We all have a choice.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way, and I’m not here to say you shouldn’t, in fact it is often a knee-jerk reaction. However, in times like this, the key is not to get comfortable within the dark abyss and learn to rise once again and conquer whatever tribulation you are going through. It is so important to accept what is beyond our control and to work within whatever constraints life imposes on us, to either find a solution or a way of getting over the problem.

It all comes down to our attitude.

In this moment we are faced with a choice: either spend our lives as a hostile and bitter person, or take the pain you have endured, treat it as a learning experience and become a better person in the process. Obviously, the wiser choice is the latter, but letting go of pain and using it to become a better person is much easier said than done. There is no switch we can flip to forget everything. Depending on the extent of your situation, it may take a long time to completely recover from feelings of anger, pain, and betrayal. However, what most people lose sight of is that the pain you feel now will not last forever.

In most cases, it won’t be there in 1, 2 or 5 years. This should never discourage you from trying to pick yourself back up. Life doesn’t end when we go through major trauma. Instead of dwelling on what happened, plotting a scheme to get back at that person, or thinking that life is over, and it will never be good again, reframe your mind to think positively about the new life you can now build for yourself. History has shown us many leaders, innovators and warriors, who made catastrophic mistakes, or who had their fair share of hardships, and yet they went on to achieve great things. Their story never ended at the first sign of trouble. Likewise, your story doesn’t end when you go through trials and tribulations. In fact, your story could be at its beginning if you take the reins and start writing the next chapter of your life.

No one is immune to life’s challenges

The best way to get over the after-taste of a past bitterness is to try to do something meaningful and reinvent yourself. Do something so meaningful and satisfying that when you think back on the bitterness, you will feel thankful for it for setting you on a better path. Don't we remember what happened to Steve Jobs? He was fired from the company he had created. He then went ahead to find NeXT and later bought Pixar, finally returning to Apple after they bought NeXT. As he mentioned in the now famous Stanford commencement speech: "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."

Likewise, the famous Walt Disney was fired at a newspaper station when he was 22 for not being creative enough, which is ironic considering he went on to create Disneyland and Mickey Mouse. Reflecting on this incident, Disney admitted that while being fired was devastating at the time, this misfortune changed his journey and propelled him onto a new path with amazing results.

Anna Wintour, the Vogue Editor and one of the most recognisable names in fashion, was fired from her first job as junior fashion editor at Harpers Bazaar in the early stages of her career. Like Disney and Jobs, Wintour was a little lost as to what her next step will be, but she made choices and refused to give up.

All three went through similar challenges - the loss of a job, the loss of income, the loss of identity. However, what separated them from others is that all three had a vision. This vision fuelled their tenacity and perseverance, to become the best person they knew they were meant to be. When you have a vision of what you want to become, it manifests into the drive and motivation you need to keep going. Such a profound learning experience has the potential to propel you onto bigger and better things than you could have ever imagined.

The point of these examples is that misfortune happens to anyone - even celebrities, prominent leaders and influencers experience life’s turmoils at some point or another.

The lesson is that fortune favours the brave. And I have always believed when a door closes, another one opens, we may not see the door straight away but it’s there, ready to be discovered and opened.

Let go and live your life

Life is so much better when we let go of our bitterness and just live; if Jobs, Disney or Wintour chose to dwell in their misery and despair, their stories would certainly be different. Learn to accept what is and resist the urge of the downward spiral of bitterness, revenge and resentment.

Find an outlet to clear your head of anger and negative thoughts. For me, it is working out, reading or simply just going for a nice hike. Find your outlet, and when you feel the anger and resentment start to creep in, fall back on one of the activities that make you happy. Speaking from personal experience, this helps immensely. It doesn’t completely eradicate the anger or resentment but nevertheless, it does clear your mind to the point where you can think with a sound mind on what your next steps are.

Establish what you need to do to become the best version of yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The feeling of true satisfaction that comes from this kind of introspection and self-discovery is far greater than staying in the abyss of bitterness and anger or by the false happiness that comes from hoping the person who once screwed you over will live a miserable life.

Bitterness is a natural human emotion and understandably so, but it is unhealthy. Remember, regardless of what we go through, we have the ability to choose what our reaction will be when faced with life’s challenges.

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