Revenge is sweet, or so many think. If we have been harmed, we are attracted to the idea of revenge. We believe we will feel much better after this person has "paid" for what he did to us. We also think revenge will help us erase suffering and turn the page.
However, Confucius said, "Before embarking on the journey of vengeance, dig two graves", referring to the fact that revenge, no matter if eaten hot or cold, is a dish that can cause us indigestion.
Revenge is bitter
To assess whether revenge really makes us feel better, psychologists from Harvard University and Virginia conducted an experiment that consisted of a group investment. If all participants collaborated, they would benefit equally. If someone refused to invest their money, that person would benefit from the rest of the group.
A psychologist infiltrating the group convinced all members to accept the investment, but later decided not to follow the plan. In this way he earned twice as much as the others. In short, he deceived them all.
Later some people had a chance to take revenge: they could use a portion of their profits to punish the traitor. All those who had the opportunity to take revenge agreed and said they would feel much better afterwards.
But the results showed that those who took revenge ended up feeling worse than those who didn't. Even people who didn't get a chance to retaliate said they thought they would feel better considering this possibility, but the survey results identified them as the happiest group. Both groups thought revenge would be sweet, but their feelings showed the opposite: revenge made them unhappy.
Researchers suggest that the desire for revenge does not reduce anger, it increases it, because it plunges us into a whirlwind of negative thoughts. When people don't take revenge, they tend to trivialize the event by repeating that it was nothing serious after all. So it's easier for them to forget and move on. On the contrary, those who take revenge cannot trivialize the situation, but continually repeat what happened in their mind, so they end up feeling worse. In other words: become a prisoner of revenge.
Justice is not synonymous with revenge
It is not necessary to feel bad when our instinct for revenge is activated. It is normal that our first reaction when they hurt, humiliate or deceive us is the desire for revenge. These emotions are perfectly understandable, the important thing is to know how to manage the desire for revenge and not let anger take over.
When we think of revenge we stop the clock just at the moment in which they hurt us, instead of continuing our life, we choose, more or less consciously, to leave the wound open. This behavior doesn't make much sense since we will continue to hurt ourselves. It's like having a leg injury and instead of worrying about healing it, doing everything to keep you superseding. The philosopher Francis Bacon said: "a person who desires revenge keeps his wounds open".
Giving up the desire for revenge doesn't mean that the people who hurt us don't have to take their responsibilities, but that's called justice. Revenge is eminently emotional and is driven by anger, hatred and resentment, which is why it not only harms us inside but can also take us away from our values and principles. Justice, on the other hand, is a considered action that is consistent with the damage suffered.
So when you feel the need to take revenge, remember the words of Haruki Murakami: “nothing costs more and produces less profit than revenge”. Revenge is not sweet nor is it a dish that should be eaten cold, rather it is a bite that it would be better not to try because once ingested, there is no going back and will probably cause indigestion. Revenge does not make you a better person and does not allow you to grow, on the contrary, it drags you into a whirlwind of emotions. Therefore, it is likely that you will eventually not feel comfortable with the person you have become. But then it will be too late.