I used the quote above not only because it is so true, but because living well is what it is really all about. I call wanting revenge stupid because it actually holds you back and prevents you from moving on and living well. It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold; well I say revenge is a dish best not even planned.
Now don't get me wrong. I, myself, wanted revenge, and for far too long. It's probably one of the things I'm most upset with myself for. But the point is, I know all about wanting revenge. I also know how much of a waste of time it is. If you're at that point where you were bullied and you still harbor anger and resentment, then I completely understand if you have thoughts of revenge. In this post I want to show you how to look at the situation differently and how to see revenge as pointless.
First, I want to say that it's normal to want revenge when someone has wronged you. It's a natural reaction. Of course, if someone has violated your rights and done or said things to you that have left scars, you want justice. This can be especially true if you didn't defend yourself at the time, and then you realize later in life that you are still hurt by what happened. You feel like the only way to move on is to make them hurt too. Well, I'll tell you that wanting to hurt that person (or people) in return will only make it harder to move on.
Let me tell you a quick story about my experience with wanting revenge:
When I was bullied I never defended myself. I hated myself for not standing up to them, but there was nothing I could do about it after the fact...except seek revenge. Once I was out of the environment where the bullying occurred, I never saw the people who bullied me anymore. They were out of sight, but they certainly weren't out of mind. After some time passed, and I was trying to deal with anger issues, I started thinking about how good it would feel to get back at them. I obsessed over it to the point where it was on my mind every day. I would play out situations in my head where I would get back at them. All this really did was consume me and fuel my anger. One day while working on forgiveness, I realized that I had to let it go. If I wanted to move on and be happy, I had to let it go. It took me years to realize this, though, and once I did then I wished I had realized it sooner. This is really making a long story short, but I want to focus on why wanting revenge is stupid and how you can deal with those feelings.
One reason why wanting revenge is stupid is because it's what the bully wants. Bullies do what they do to try and illicit a reaction from the victim. They single the person out and try to push their buttons. They think it's a game to see how far they can push someone before they respond. They want you to give in and react. They probably even want to see you get in trouble for it. If you seek out revenge then all you are doing is stooping to their level. Is that where you really want to be? Do you want to become a bully yourself? Going from victim to bully will only cause more problems. And it certainly won't solve any. The satisfaction of revenge can only be short-lived. You have to be strong and react in a way that will set you up for long-term success, not a fleeting short-term gain. Haven't you ever done anything in the moment that you later regretted? We all have, and I think we can all agree that it wasn't worth it.
Another reason why wanting revenge is stupid is because it keeps you angry. As I mentioned in my story above, thoughts of revenge only fuel feelings of anger. The two go hand-in-hand. Anger makes you want revenge and wanting revenge keeps you angry. You have to break that cycle. We'll look at anger in another post, but for now it's important to realize that you can't have thoughts of revenge without getting angry. You get angry because you inevitably think about what was done to you. You're only feeding the part of you that wants to hold on to the past. Instead, you have to help the part of you that wants to move on.
I'll be the first to admit that it's not easy to stop wanting revenge, but it is so worth it to stop. It's not easy because it creates this internal conflict where on the one hand you want justice, but on the other hand you know it's not the right thing to do. It doesn't have to be something that you have to stop feeling this very minute. If it's something that you think about each day then it's going to take some time to stop thinking about it completely. The important thing is to realize that it's not good for you and to make progress each day. It will get easier over time. You'll go longer in between feeling that way. When you're having thoughts of revenge you have to go easy on yourself. Remind yourself that it's okay to slip up, and what's important is that you're making improvements. Sometimes the worst thing we can do is be hard on ourselves during a recovery process. The main thing is to know you're heading in the right direction.
Your recovery is going to be quicker when you realize that letting go is really the best treatment. If you give up on wanting revenge then you're also going to make progress on anger issues. And letting go of seeking revenge does not mean that the bullies won. If we go back to the quote above, it's quite the opposite. Remember, a reaction from you is what they want, and the last thing we want to do is give them what they want. We want to take back control of our lives and let go of the things that hold us back. Odds are the bullies are still struggling with their own issues, and if you are surviving and thriving then isn't that all that really matters? If you really want revenge then live well! Don't waste your time chasing after things that aren't worth it.
Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any stories or questions.
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