Though “Luigi is an arsehole” is a descriptive and vivid phrase, it doesn’t clearly define what the resentment actually is. Instead of communicating what Luigi has done to cause our resentment, we have resorted to describing how we feel about him, and think that this explains the reason for it. We are assigning a label to the person of Luigi. This means, in effect, that we are classifying the feeling rather than explaining the cause. We are commenting on the resentment rather than stating what is actually is. This will not do, not until we have fully understood why we have concluded that he’s an arsehole.

Luigi may actually have done a number of very particular things over the course of our association with him. Those things may be different in nature. They may cover a wide spectrum of typical arsehole behaviour, or be repeated examples of the same old bullshit. We may dislike him intensely for no other reason than we are sure that he doesn’t like us very much. In this case we’re being rather dishonest, and manufacturing a reason to feel comfortable with not liking him without having a specific reason for doing so. Either way, we must reassess the conclusion we have drawn and consider the reason for it.

Identifying the real reason why we dislike someone confronts the issue of denial, or at the very least misdirection. If we haven’t been particularly clear and straightforward with ourselves about the nature of the resentment in the first place, or if we are hiding behind some general non-specificity – some insult instead of a direct complaint – then it is valid to ask why. The truth, the real reason why we resent him, is often infinitely more uncomfortable. We cannot afford to be dishonest about this, because the validity of the investigation depends on the accuracy of what we identify as being the true resentment.

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