Desire for revenge: what is it really and how to fight it?
Revenge is often seen as a path that leads to a state of mind of serenity once we have settled a score with something or someone. From this perspective, the desire for revenge is nothing more than the natural result of having gone through humiliation or having been harmed in a very significant way, sometimes without the person who has done this harm having anything in return.
However, the desire for revenge is not a healthy feeling in itself . In fact, it can make us enter into a destructive logic that is not good for us or for the society in which we live.
What is revenge?
Revenge is a set of behaviours aimed at harming a person or group that is perceived as being guilty or responsible for harm caused to others or, often, to the person with the vindictive desires.
In short, revenge is a way of managing behaviour linked to aggression. Sometimes, instead of adopting a behaviour that involves directly confronting the person who has harmed us at the moment he has just done so, a medium or long term strategy is chosen, which would allow a greater probability of inflicting the desired damage by being able to benefit from the time and preparation of resources to plan the physical or psychological attack.
On the other hand, it has been seen that the people most likely to embrace revenge behavior are those who score high on the personality trait linked to sadism . Sadistic people are those who are relatively likely to enjoy the suffering of others.
The difference with justice
From childhood we are educated with the idea that negative acts have negative consequences, and positive acts produce beneficial changes. This idea is often valid in the context of the education that parents give to young children, but in adult life things do not work like that. Many times, by default, the damage remains there, and the universe will not conspire to make up for it.
In the face of this reality, the desire for justice appears as a human quality aimed at creating a better society in which the principle that all people have the same rights and in which there must be compensation mechanisms is paramount. However, the desire for revenge is not born of the will to make a better world, but of a much more visceral feeling. It is not something that has to do with a way of seeing the world or with a desire for how society should be, but rather it has to do with hatred and resentment .
Thus, the desire for revenge can become a way to enter into a conflict dynamic that makes the problem bigger than it already is, due to its passionate and unsystematic nature.
Why are desires for revenge such a negative thing?
Beyond the feeling that once revenge has been achieved there will be some compensatory relief for the suffering caused earlier, allowing oneself to be carried away by this force of motivation often leads to harmful results . These are some of the reasons.
No limits to harm
In revenge there are only the limits that one sets oneself. That’s why it’s easy to go too far in wanting to harm someone . Justifications appear at any sign that many thresholds are being exceeded, and this can lead to a situation where control is lost and much pain is caused.
There are people who invest a lot of time and effort in revenge. It is very easy, once this stage is over, to look back and see this period as a waste of time, a gap in the calendar, because nothing that you enjoy in the future in a sustained way is due to these actions.
The escalation of violence
It is easy to forget the reason why everything started, and that an action has its reaction indefinitely . In this way, an initiative that seemed to be liberating at the beginning (since in theory it served to make people feel at peace) comes to enslave, as it demands more and more time and effort.
What to do?
When faced with the desire for revenge, it is best to choose one of two options.
On the one hand, it’s good to look for distractions to help make intrusive thoughts about it come up again and again. With changing habits, the tendency to always think about the same thing or to fantasize about getting even is broken.
On the other hand, one can also choose to get revenge in a very indirect and relatively constructive and benign way . This is the option of the lesser evil. For example, using that desire to compensate by making personal progress serve as a lesson for those who wanted to harm us, showing that their attempts to harm us were in vain.
In any case, it is clear that each case is unique depending on the philosophy of life of each one. That does not mean, however, that there is not a battle to be fought (and won) against the desire for revenge.