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Ever Wanted to Get Revenge? Try This Instead

Revenge is unhealthy

While it can feel very satisfying to play tit-for-tat, studies show that revenge is often short-lived.

Revenge can make an incident much harder to overcome. Pay-back ties you to the person and keeps you focused on the mistreatment. It prevents you from moving forward and redirecting your life.

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Ever Wanted to Get Revenge? Try This Instead

Ever Wanted to Get Revenge? Try This Instead

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/smarter-living/how-to-turn-toxic-emotions-into-positive-actions.html

nytimes.com

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Key Ideas

Why revenge feels more appealing

Humans are protective beings. If what we care about is threatened, our initial instinct is to want to do something about it.

Revenge is a motivator. Adam Rippon, the American figure skater, said his haters motivated him to make it to the Winter Olympics.

Revenge is unhealthy

While it can feel very satisfying to play tit-for-tat, studies show that revenge is often short-lived.

Revenge can make an incident much harder to overcome. Pay-back ties you to the person and keeps you focused on the mistreatment. It prevents you from moving forward and redirecting your life.

How to process the toxic emotions

While the desire to "get even" is understandable, doing so is likely to make things worse.

  • You could use the feeling of revenge to highlight what you value and prioritize rather than using your energy to dwell on the past. The catalyst lies in channeling the feeling of revenge to something positive.
  • Letting go of toxic feelings can make you feel powerful - not by exercising power over someone else, but over yourself.

Letting go

We can't control when toxic emotions run through our minds, but we can control how we respond to those feelings.

Instead of seeking revenge, turn inward, find the root of that feeling, and either use it as a learning experience or warning flag as you move toward something better. Doing so will enable you to handle future difficulties with more grace and wisdom

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The Psychology Of Revenge

Revenge is the desire to retaliate to someone who has injured us or made us suffer, either physically or mentally.

Studies revealed that the feeling of revenge is extremely rewarding to the brain. The region of the brain called ‘caudate nucleus’ is stimulated when the victim imagines taking revenge to punish the other person.

The Long-Term Effects of Seeking Revenge

While movies portray that being able to successfully take revenge will make one feel better, and find some closure, the long term effects of avenging oneself are completely opposite.

The cycle of retaliation continues after seeking revenge, and the pain of the original offence is re-opened, with the emotional wounds aggravated.

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Manipulation by passive and covert aggression
Manipulation by passive and covert aggression
  • Passive-aggression is an indirect way to go on the offensive. An example is when someone tries to "get you back" by resisting cooperation and giving you the "...
What a covert aggressive looks like
  • They pretend to be innocent, ignorant, or confused when they did something awful. This tactic is to make you question your judgment.
  • They don't give a straight answer to a straight question, but evade the question or change the subject when cornered.
  • They lie by omission or distortion by deliberately being vague.
  • They may either respond with charm and flattery, of will suddenly be angry.
  • They'll play the victim and make themselves out to be the one in distress.
  • They rationalize by giving a plausible excuse for engaging in inappropriate behavior, or they will downplay their behavior.
  • Covert aggressives don't feel bad, but they know you do. They will send you on a guilt trip so you will lighten your accusations.
How to deal with a covert-aggressive person
  • Let go of the pretense that if you play nice, they will play nice.
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  • Memorize the list of tactics used by an aggressive person. Then it is easier to recognize the attack.
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Why forgiveness is so hard
  • You're filled with thoughts of retribution or revenge
  • You enjoy feeling superior
  • You don't know how to resolve the situation
  • You're addicted to the adrenaline that anger provides
  • You self-identify as a "victim"
  • You're afraid that by forgiving you have to re-connect—or lose your connection.
When you desire to forgive

If you decide you are willing to forgive, find a good place and time to be alone with your thoughts.

  • Think about the incident that angered you. Accept that it happened, how you felt about it and how it made you react.
  • Acknowledge the growth you experienced as a result of what happened. What did it make you learn about yourself, or about your needs and boundaries?
  • Think about the other person. When you were hurt, the other person was trying to have a need met. What do you think this need was and why did the person go about it in such a hurtful way?
  • Decide if you want to tell the other person that you have forgiven him or her.
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One thing that often helps people to forgive is receiving an apology.

A good apology ideally has three parts: an admission of responsibility, a demonstration of sorrow, and doing something to remedy the offence, or prevent a repetition of it. 

Apologies and understanding

An apology is not telling others we feel sorry they are angry it is telling them we understand why they are angry with us, regret making them feel that way, and wanting to take their anger away. 

An effective apology is showing the person we understand why they are hurting.

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Forgiveness ≠ weakness

One roadblock people face with forgiveness is the idea of being seen as "weak" and saying that what the offender did is excusable.

It requires more strength to forgive. Staying angry, resentful, and vengeful can have a detrimental impact on your physical and emotional health as well as your relationships.

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