Revenge — Not So Sweet

Vengeance is a monster of appetite, forever bloodthirsty and never filled.                            — Richelle E. Goodrich

Have you ever wished that you could go back to a conversation you’ve had and re-do it – say what you really wanted to say, make your point more strongly, make sure that you got in the last word? I know that I’ve done that many times over the years, held phantom conversations while I’ve been working on something else.

Have you ever felt that you’ve been hurt by someone for no reason – that you’ve done nothing to deserve their judgment, harsh words or condemnation? And it sometimes feels as though you’ve been hurt on purpose.  Having felt that, have you wanted to get some of your own back and hurt others as much as they’ve hurt you?  For me, I know that there have been times when I’ve suffered and wanted to make the person who hurt me answer for their actions.  I have wanted to get revenge.

When it comes to getting revenge, one of my friends is so good at it that she’s scary. I could blame it all on the fact that she’s a Scorpio with a Scorpio ascendant [if you believe astrology].  What I do know is that she has exacted revenge on those who have done her wrong following the axiom: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

I’ve seen it at first hand. My friend does not seek revenge actively and immediately.  She doesn’t set things up to get vengeance.  Instead, she’ll wait a long time if necessary until the stars and circumstances so align so that the opportunity for revenge presents itself [and when the other person is not expecting it]. It usually happens like this: the other person will seek advice on what to do about a major decision.  Then my friend will say “This is what I’d do [and give a broad overview without an action plan] but I’m not you.  You have to do what’s right for you.”  The other person always has to deal with the fallout of their choice because they most often ignore my friend’s advice and do what they intended to do in the first place.  My friend knows that people usually ask for advice when they really want someone to agree with what they want to do.  Don’t hear what you want to hear, and you’ll do your own thing anyway. So, there’s been nothing for my friend to do but sit back, wait, and watch it happen – sort of passive-aggressive revenge.

I know that when I’ve been able to exact revenge on someone, I never feel satisfied in the long run. Sure there’s an immediate sense of rightness and balancing the scales so to speak.  And that feeling of vindication never lasts very long.  And then I feel the pain again. The problem with revenge is that it never evens the score. I’ve always felt, in seeking revenge, that I’ve been stuck in some kind of closed loop – trying to re-do things and this time make them turn out the way I want them to: with me winning.  I feel like I try to right the wrong over and over again. And that never happens so that my initial hurt is healed and there is nothing to even indicate spot in my psyche where I felt the hurt.  The wound still remains even if it is covered over.

For my money, the biggest problem with trying to get revenge is that it traps us in the past and story. Consider that, as long as we seek reparation for any hurt, we will be stuck continually trying to achieve that. We’re caught forever trying to rectify and change the past.  Futile hope!  The past is over and done and can never be changed. We can’t change the past and we end up trapped in the past.

So who’s the winner in the revenge equation? We sure as shootin’ aren’t. We can never win. Consider that if we spend our time and make our choices hoping someone will suffer consequences for what they did to us, then we’re allowing them to continue to hurt us. We’re tied to events and responses which are externally referenced as we monitor the reaction of the injurer to what we do to them. Did they feel hurt? If ‘yes’, then “Yahoo!”. If ‘no’, then time to try something else to get even. The only person whose responses we can control is ourSelves. The anger and resentment and hurt which we feel has no impact on anyone but ourselves. The only person who will ever feel the hurt is us. We cannot make another person feel what we feel and take over ownership of our hurt.

What got me thinking about all of this was finally getting it in every cell of my body that, by trying to fix things and change things which have happened to me in the past, I’ve hamstrung myself. I’ve tied myself up in knots, thought I’d dealt with whatever the issue was only to have it come back again in a slightly different guise and in response to a different trigger. And I now understand that what lies underneath it all has been feeling hurt and abused and trying to make it so that I won’t feel that way anymore. And the only way that I can achieve that goal is to see what’s really there and own it and know that I can choose differently.

The hurts that have controlled me can’t get to me at all unless I let them.








About Authentic Vibrations

My life is about learning and personal growth. I was an educator in the public secondary system for over 33 years. I now work with women, individually and in small groups, using words and music, art and language to help them explore their individaul sense of self in ways with are authentically meaningful for each of them. I also facilitate discussions with educators at all stages of their involvement in the teaching profession to help each of us explore the meaning, value and potential of learning and teaching. It is my belief that, in working individually and in collective, we have the power to transform and evolve. In the power of the collectives which we create together is the power to create culture. As a musician, I believe that the arts have the power to change lives. Certification: CODE Model™ Coach WEL-Systems® Institute Affiliate Education: Ed. D (c) (Applied Psychology – Focus on Teaching) University of Toronto M. Ed (Curriculum Development and Design) Queen’s University (1992) B. Ed (Music, English, Elementary Education) University of Toronto (1976) Mus. Bac. (Music Education) University of Toronto (1975) RCM Grade 4 Harmony, Grade 4 History, Grade 9 Voice, Grade 10 Piano Awards: Life Membership, Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (2009)
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2 Responses to Revenge — Not So Sweet

  1. Pingback: Revenge — Not So Sweet | Engage WEL-Systems

  2. Hi Jean,

    I believe that so many will recognize their own behaviours in this article. How much energy has each of spent in attending to the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘if only’s’? It is hurtful and exhausting and demeaning.

    A friend recently asked me if I would rather be happy or be right. That was a hard one for me to answer; I realized, in that moment, that my personally held meanings for the nominalizations of happy and right had been anchored together, so that the only way I could ever consider being happy was to know I was right. Well, that was a big awakening to a big unconscious bind, when I realized that I was happy only when I believed I was right…. and that was inconsistent, at best! When I breathed into that, a decoupling of the 2 happened, expanding, yet again, my consciousness and inviting me into far greater ease in my life. I can be happy without having to be right.

    Revenge, for me, is always about needing to be right. When we choose to leave that cage, what else becomes possible for ourselves and others to consider?! There are entire forests of unconditional revelation opened to be traversed.


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