Revenge. A powerful word. Its origins are Latin, coming from the words “re” (an intensifier), and “vindicare” (to claim, to avenge or to punish). It’s a big theme in popular culture, be that in movies, music or literature. Avenge those who have wronged you. Re-claim your family’s honour. Sounds great, but it’s easy to forget that this isn’t real life. It’s art, entertainment or make-believe. For most of us, though, we not only adopt this approach, but we allow it to even become a natural reaction. Somebody does something to hurt or offend you, and almost instinctively you start looking for ways to make them suffer and teach them a lesson. The problem is that revenge doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t give satisfaction, patch up wounded pride or make you feel good about yourself. At best, you find yourself feeling surprisingly numb instead of happy. At worst, you start to feel ashamed at having been provoked into doing something to harm someone else, going against everything you believe in and stand for.
Picture this for a moment. Somebody hurts you. So, you get your revenge by going one better. This is not the end of the matter, though, as they now seek to get their revenge. To which you have to react. And it escalates, slowly becoming more serious until someone gets very badly hurt. All because of wounded pride and an ego which tells you that you must have the last say in the matter.
The best revenge is actually no revenge at all. Reflect on the situation and draw any lessons that you can from a negative experience. Then, get on with your life wiser for the experience. When you focus on revenge, you allow the offender and their actions to live on in your head, wreaking havoc on your emotions and sabotaging your personal and professional success. They do this without having to do anything. The other person just gets on with their life. You, however, keep letting your thoughts wander back to them and their actions. An inability to let go of the past will put a halt on any future progress.
As hard as it may be, doing nothing is the best way to send a message to the offender. Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you hurt. People having a habit of judging others by their own standards, so when someone wrongs you, they will expect a reaction. By doing nothing and moving on, their mind will play tricks on them. They will be on edge for a while and wary of any reaction. While you are focusing on yourself, they are watching, waiting, anticipating and worrying. Let their mind do the dirty work for you. Not only that, but in this digitally-connected age, very little goes unnoticed. So, ask yourself, is it really worth risking your personal and professional reputation and straining your relationships, just to have some revenge and a temporary mood boost? I thought not.
So, when somebody hurts you do the smart thing. Deal with it sensibly. This isn’t Scarface, and you’re not Tony Montana, so dealing with it sensibly doesn’t mean seeking revenge. Depending on the situation, perhaps try to understand and maybe even forgive. We are all fighting our own demons, after all, and sometimes we inadvertently hurt others as we try to deal with our own pain. If, however, you can’t forgive them, cut them off and switch your focus back to your goals.
It is inevitable that people will say and do things which will hurt you. The reaction, however, is up to you. Instead of revenge or self-pity, aim for self improvement and put all of that pent-up energy to good use.