How to Overcome Bitterness After Being Passed Over

Disappointments brings you to a perilous series of choices. I don’t mean to speak lightly, but if you’re bitter, you chose it.

Feeling hurt isn’t a choice. But if you’re bitter, you made choices to get there.


Bitterness creeps in when you fail to deal with disappointment skillfully. A colleague with less experience got the promotion you wanted. You’re at a fork in the road.

Disappointment turns to hurt. Hurt turns to anger. Anger becomes bitterness. The progression only takes moments to begin.

  1. Bitterness is pollution.
  2. Bitterness is revenge turned inward.
  3. Bitterness is adding blame to perceived harm.

The great saboteur:

The only path toward success, after bitterness poisons your life, is to get rid of it.

Bitterness dilutes success and pollutes fulfillment. You might think of healthy uses for fear and anger. But there are no healthy uses for bitterness.


The seduction of bitterness is the feeling of power you get while expressing it. You might think you’re standing up for yourself or others. It’s just bitterness.

Overcoming bitterness:

Begin with behaviors. Treat wrongdoers like they didn’t offend you. Treat everyone with courtesy, even if you’d like to kick butt. 

You might feel that the person who got the promotion wronged you. That’s bitterness speaking.

Behave your way out of bitterness. You can’t feel your way out it.

When offenses consume you, imagine how you would treat them if the offense hadn’t occurred. (I’m not suggesting you naively open yourself to further harm.)

Relate to offenders with your future in mind, not their past. Consider what’s best for you. Few things are more self-destructive than bitterness. It clouds your thinking and fouls your attitude.

Bitter behaviors feel like balancing the scales by giving people what they deserve. But they destroy you instead.

How might people overcome bitterness after being passed over for a promotion?