7 Signs You're Not 'Protecting Your Peace' — You're Being Resentful

Holding on to resentment will only keep you further from peace.

resentful woman Antonio Guillem

When you’ve been badly hurt in the past, it can be incredibly difficult to act with peaceful and loving intentions in the present. As a result, you may hold people at a distance, thinking you are protecting your peace, when, in reality, you're acting with resentment and hurting yourself in the process. 

Klara Kernig, a people-pleasing recovery educator, shared some signs on Instagram that indicate you are holding on to resentment — something that can be detrimental to your physical and mental well-being, as well as your relationships.


Here are 7 signs you're being resentful:

1. You spend a lot of time thinking about past situations that have hurt you

You may ruminate on the painful events from your past as a means to protect yourself from experiencing that pain again. However, it's likely doing more harm than good.

It’s no simple feat to let go of your past traumas and experiences, but holding onto that pain will only keep you from growing and flourishing toward a peaceful lifestyle.



RELATED: The Self-Inflicted Reason So Many Women Feel Resentful


“Replaying distressing events from the past over and over in your head isn’t really helpful, and it often keeps you stuck in a state of dysregulation and can actually make you less able to deal with stress,” Whitney Goodman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said in a TikTok.

In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association, this cycle of rumination can lead to the development of depression and anxiety. 

If you’re unsure how to end this toxic cognitive cycle, consider finding positive activities to distract your mind and cultivate happier memories and relationships. Focus more on the positive experiences you encounter than the negative ones holding you back.

2. You spend too much time silently criticizing others 

If you tend to silently criticize and blame others for hurting your feelings, whether they meant to or not, this signifies the projection of your own insecurities onto others.


We all fall into this pattern of judging others, usually for the same reasons we might judge ourselves. This self-criticism stems from a lack of trust in ourselves, according to Brooke, an energy educator on TikTok



“When we don’t trust ourselves to handle a situation or take action and stand up for ourselves, we tend to look at others with harsher eyes," Brooke explained. "We don’t feel like we can protect our own selves, so out of safety, we jump in at other people."

When you lack the assertiveness to communicate your needs or confront others when they disrespect you, you’ll resort to judging them silently. However, this resentful behavior will only make you suffer physically, emotionally, and mentally in the end. 


3. You often feel angry, unseen, and underappreciated and respond with passive aggression

No one enjoys feeling underappreciated, but it isn’t productive to resort to passive-aggressive tendencies toward others, such as sarcasm or snide comments.

In fact, according to Monica Watt, a leadership coach on TikTok, this behavior can lead to “increased stress, frustration, and real internal conflict.”



Additionally, you’ll lose yourself in this unhealthy cycle of ineffective communication, which will only strain your relationships. This behavior can be especially harmful in your work environment, creating patterns of miscommunication and unresolved conflict. 


“The indirect nature of communication can lead to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and again lack of trust,” Watt explained. “Overtime, it’s going to erode that foundation of relationships, making it difficult to build meaningful connections and resolve conflicts constructively.”

Just because it feels like someone is not appreciating your efforts does not mean that this is true. It’s important to know your worth regardless of others’ behaviors and stay true to your values.

4. You tend to hold grudges for a long time

Holding grudges might feel like a fair way to cope with the pain someone caused you, but it’s no secret that this will only contribute to your stress and weigh you down from finding peace in the long run.

In a TikTok, Kim Polinder, a relationship coach, said, “People generally hold on to grudges and resentments as a way of protecting themselves from getting hurt in the future.”




RELATED: Trauma Therapist Explains What Your Reactions To People's Moods Might Reveal About Your Upbringing

Harboring resentment for something someone did, even after they have apologized and tried to make things right, is actually a coping mechanism that may have developed in earlier experiences. 

“Grudges usually poke at an emotional wound from the past that reminds you of a deep sense of betrayal and/or abandonment,” Polinder shared. 


While it might feel like your way of protecting yourself from pain, this behavior will only prevent you from being happy or trusting others again.

Try to evaluate what experiences have created this habit, and allow yourself to acknowledge and process them. Trust me, it’s not worth holding on to that heavy load. You’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders once you allow yourself to release the resentment you have been holding. 

5. You distance yourself from people who have crossed your unspoken boundaries

It’s certainly reasonable to choose to have no contact with individuals who are not aligned with you. However, if you find yourself frequently isolating yourself and ghosting friends or partners after they cross unspoken boundaries, you may just be running away from dealing with your emotions.

Israa Nasir, a mental health educator on TikTok, explained how there is a big difference between ghosting someone and setting a boundary.  


“Ghosting is avoiding conflict and confrontation and communication. A boundary is something we put in place in collaboration with another person,” she stated. “To package ghosting as setting a boundary to protect your energy is actually false.”



Sometimes, we need to clarify the boundaries in our relationships, and when a boundary is crossed, a conversation about this violation is necessary. If it continues to be crossed, and your words go ignored, then distancing yourself may be necessary. But this should not be the call to action for every moment that feels like a crossed line. 

Without dealing with the problem and enforcing your boundaries directly, you are burying it within.


6. You tend to give yourself to others and silently believe they owe you something in return

Showing up and being there for others is a beautiful quality, but it’s important not to give yourself up for everyone else’s well-being at the cost of your own. Be selective with whom you give your energy, and make sure you’re always prioritizing your well-being and filling your cup before you give yourself to others.

Moreover, rather than assuming others will know what your desires and needs are, communicate them clearly — no one can read your mind.   

It’s wrong to believe your acts of kindness to others necessitate something in return. Rather, giving to others should come from the goodness of your heart.

7. You purposely give others the silent treatment when you feel taken advantage of

This is another example of a defense mechanism that many might confuse for a boundary. However, giving someone the silent treatment is not a boundary.


Rini Spencer posted a TikTok explaining how this behavior is actually a form of manipulation. While it’s natural and healthy to take moments of silence to process conflicting situations and emotions when they come up, deliberately avoiding any communication only weakens your position.



Nobody likes to be taken advantage of, and you should most definitely stand up for yourself and uphold your boundaries when it feels like someone is abusing your energy. But resorting to the silent treatment in reaction to this behavior is only another poor way of avoiding accountability for your emotions. 

This method won’t lead to any growth or improvement in your relationship. All it will do is grow your resentment and unresolved inner conflict. 


Avoid falling into these toxic patterns of resentment, and allow yourself the peace of processing the pain and letting go. 

The longer you continue to suppress your frustration and anger, the more resentful you will feel. When you bury these feelings, they don’t just disappear. They continue to build up and emerge in how you react to and feel about others.

Ending these harmful cycles can take some time when you've been hurt badly in the past, and these wounds will hinder your ability to react to stressful situations with patience and understanding.



As described by Dr. Glen and Pye, the most productive way to end this cycle of resentment is to start seeing and understanding your relationships with others for what they truly are “beyond your perspective and your expectations of them.” 


Zoom out and see things for what they are. By becoming aware of how you are contributing to your own pain and being willing to grow and understand others, you’ll be able to truly connect and communicate in a way that feels healthy and safe.

This process may take time, but trust in your efforts and realize that it is much easier to let go than to hold on to resentment that doesn’t serve you. 

RELATED: How To Know If You’re Stuck In Resentment — Before It Destroys Your Relationship

Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human interest, adventure, and spirituality topics.