“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” -Confucius
Everyone I know has felt the need to get revenge at some time in their life. Getting cut off in traffic, being bullied at school or work, or being cheated on in a relationship. When you’re taken advantage of or wronged by someone else, you may fantasize or mull over thoughts of getting back at the person. Although the need for revenge is understandable, it is never healthy. Seeking revenge doesn’t take away the behaviors that hurt you; it just perpetuates the cycle of pain.
Revenge, like hate, takes a toll psychologically and physically on the person who feels wronged. Venting the feelings of revenge may help you feel better, but it doesn’t take away the feeling of anger and hostility, and, in fact, it may increase those feelings. Revenge is unlike seeking justice because revenge seekers are driven by anger, self-righteousness and violence. They want to hurt someone or make them pay, and they’re so blinded by their anger that they’re not able to understand how these feelings can be used in a positive way (for example, if you suffered an injustice and used your suffering to bring about a positive change such as MADD).
Who is more likely to seek deadly revenge?
- People with an exaggerated ego who feel they are above and better than others may turn to deadly means to seek vengeance.
- Low-self esteem. People who put all of their power into another’s hands and are taken advantage of feel as though they have nothing left to live for without this person.
- Mental illness. Killers who do mass shootings are mentally ill. They may have been bullied or used in the past, and they fantasize or plot ways to seek vengeance. These killers usually try to kill themselves as well after their rampage.
Healthy ways to deal with being hurt:
- Living your life to the fullest. There is no greater revenge than living well. You are showing the other person that their negative action did not faze you, and this will make your victimizer angrier than any revenge you could have sought. Writing a book, song or fighting for a cause to help you move forward are actions that help.
- Stop focusing on the action that hurt you. Although we all want our avenger to suffer in some way, focusing on their action gives them more power and influence over you. It makes you powerless. Focus instead on achieving something. For example, practice for a half marathon, 5K or marathon. This will improve your health and make you feel stronger.
- We all get hurt by someone at some time. It’s a sad human fact, but it is a fact. Accept and make peace with what happened and don’t let it taint you with lifelong anger or disease. Begin a journal using your suffering as a lesson that you can teach and help others through.
- Distance yourself from the situation and avenger as soon as possible. Cut off all communication.
- You cannot control others but you can control yourself. Don’t give the avenger any more power than they already took. Seeking revenge will put you on a long-term course for self-destruction.
Feelings of revenge are normal, but when you act on them, it is you who is the victim. Much wiser to watch from afar; people who do hateful and evil actions live a hateful and evil existence. What you put out, you always get back, and when it comes back to your avenger, you can feel good knowing that you didn’t allow them to ruin your life.