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Is Revenge Really Sweet?

Updated on October 05, 2011

better than revenge

Many people seek revenge when they feel they’ve been wronged by someone, or when they feel that a loved one has been wronged. I’m sure you’ve heard revenge described as “sweet revenge.” Is sweet revenge somewhat of a misnomer? It could be even worse than a misnomer. It might actually even be considered an oxymoron. Don’t expect to find any scientific studies quoted here. These are simply my own thoughts on revenge and getting even.

Revenge in popular culture

It’s a perfectly natural human emotion to want to seek revenge and get even, and it’s a big part of American culture. Just think about all the movies and books about revenge. These plots usually depict some innocent soul as being the victim of some terrible crime. The victim then turns aggressor and turns the tables on the original culprit. Most of us get so wound up in the action of the revenge movie or book that by the climax of the story, we’re rooting for the victim to get even, and when the perpetrator gets his “just deserts,” we often experience a catharsis of sorts.

All that’s fine for movie and novel fodder, but how does such a scenario play out in real life? Have you ever plotted revenge? I’m not talking here about getting even with someone on a friendly, harmless level – you know, like repaying a prank or a practical joke. I’m referring to a darker sort of revenge – the type that’s actually harmful and perhaps even dangerous. I wish I could say that I’ve never contemplated this sort of thing, but I’d be lying if I did. When I was a lot younger, I even carried out a couple of my revenge plans, I’m sorry to say.

That was a long time ago, however, and my views on revenge have definitely changed. I like to believe that most of us get wiser as we get older, and we leave most of the hotheadedness and rashness of youth behind us as we evolve into kinder and gentler versions of our former selves.

Is revenge worth the price?

Is sweet revenge really worth the price you might ultimately pay? Think about all the things that could possibly go wrong with your revenge plans. You could get into legal trouble, for one thing. Is revenge worth spending time behind bars? If you carry out revenge at your place of employment, you could very well lose your job. When others discover your vengeful activities, you could lose your reputation and your friends. Getting even probably won't be as satisfying as you imagine.

Another problem with getting even is that it can become an unending cycle of revenge. Someone does something bad to you, so you get even. Then that person retaliates for your reaction. Then you want to get even again. It could go on for years.

The highest price of revenge, however, is the one that will be demanded of your heart and soul. If you give in to the temptation of revenge, you’ll never be quite the same person. When you give in to revenge, you feed the evil that lurks within the human psyche. This reminds me of the old Native American take on good and evil. An old grandfather tells his young grandson that there are two wolf pups residing in all humans. One is good, and the other is evil. The two wolves are always fighting for dominance. The boy asks which one will win, and the wise old man responds that the winner will be the one who gets fed the most. Don’t feed the evil inside of you.

How to combat your desire for revenge

Let’s say that someone has really done something bad to you or to a friend or family member. How should you handle it? Instead of letting negative feelings like hate and anger fester, confront the wrong-doer, face to face. Do it in a calm and rational manner. Explain that you know what he did, and express your feelings about it. Doing so will bring you a sense of closure, and it will also provide catharsis. You’ve gotten it all out in the open, so it’s no longer festering. You’ve lanced the boil of hate, so now it can begin to heal. Once you’ve said your peace, put it all behind you. Don’t give it any more “air time” in your brain.

If you do the above but still have a desire for revenge, try this: Write down all the mean things you’d like to do to get even with the person who committed the wrong. Try to imagine how all your vengeful scenarios would play out in real life. How would your actions affect innocent “bystanders,” like the perpetrator’s spouse and children? Sometimes writing ideas down on paper will give your emotions a much-needed outlet and might even help you to see things more clearly.

Seek peace instead of revenge

Sweet revenge? At my age, I find peace to be much sweeter. I don’t like fussing and fighting and other negative emotions. As a Christian, I find that prayer helps me combat negativity. I try my best to leave it up to God to punish evil. I also believe in karma – what goes around comes around. Mean-spirited people will get what they deserve sooner or later, without my having to intervene.

If you’re not the religious sort who believes in prayer, give meditation or self-reflection a try. Both provide wonderful avenues to peace and to an overall sense of well-being. Instead of tossing red meat to that bad wolf cub, feed the good one. You’ll find that it gets easier with practice. According to French novelist Marie Joseph Eugene Sue, “revenge is very good eaten cold.” I say revenge is better forced down the garbage disposal.


Sweet revenge is rarely the best plan.
Sweet revenge is rarely the best plan.
Feed the good wolf inside you!
Feed the good wolf inside you!
Peace is better than revenge.
Peace is better than revenge.

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    • rwelton profile image

      rwelton 5 years ago from Sacramento CA

      Habee-

      Revenge and its degree of sweetness is a long debate...whereas there is a Sicilian phrase that notes; "Revenge is just as sweet, even if it takes a thousand years"...I would observe that so much more sweetness lies in the freedom from consumption by hate and thoughts of revenge..it burns you out from the inside.

      rlw

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      rwelton, I totally agree. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      You are so right. "Getting even probably won't be as satisfying as you imagine." There are so many other plans to work on; no time for revenge. Thanks!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      MsDora, I feel the same way. Who has time for such negativity? Thanks!

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Yea, I do, want revenge that is though not how you would think, my revenge is to be a better person, more successful, prove the wrong with the right course of life and not try to prove it, silent and sweet.

      Great hub, great read

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      Any sweetness that anyone has found from revenge I am sure is probably very fleeting. Plus, I think revenge almost gives satisfaction to the person you feel has wronged you because it brings you right down to their level. I enjoyed reading your thoughts - no scientific studies necessary.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 5 years ago

      I always knew I wouldn't feel good if I carried out some sort of revenge, but I did enjoy thinking about various scenarios.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Revenge is subjective. Each of us have choices. Some will let others dictate their behavior.

      I choose to enjoy the process to treat others the way I want to be treated and to be authentic.

      It is a process. I enjoy my "rose-colored" glasses! There are times I do get "taken advantage off." Life happens. There are "causitic" people. I have a choice to not associate with them...

      Revenge can be as noted above, a positive thing. Flag up!

    • PageC profile image

      PageC 5 years ago

      I try to follow the "living well is the best revenge" school of thought.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Fascinating treatise on revenge, Holle. I, too, believe that what goes around comes around. I also subscribe to Mahatma Gandhi's view: “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind.” Amen.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

      You summoned it up beautifully for me 'drbj', there is nothing else I need to add...great piece on revenge, enjoyed it and voted up:)

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      It's so much healthier to look to the future and focus on the positive.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

      Well written in great details. I personally couldn't be bothered but I couldn't never have anything to do with this person. Like my ex turned up after five years and keeps on trying to contact me times and again. He even wanted to come back. No fear. I can't even talk to him.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Nice hub - Make you really think, it also remided me MOBY DICK, where capt. Ahab wanted revenge on the whale.

      It didn't end good for him

      Voted up and awesome

      Manthy

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Jenu, I like your plan! That's a healthy type of revenge. lol

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      ktrapp, I agree with your thoughts on revenge. Too bad more people don't feel the same way.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      lol, Sheila. I think that's normal.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Dallas, we sound a lot alike!

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 5 years ago from United States

      Great post..Thanks

    • Alta5656 profile image

      Alta5656 5 years ago from Davao City, Philippines

      A timely topic.. I'm sad that a friend who is so close to my heart is now jobless because of a planned revenge to have a subordinate fired out from her job. It backfired. Now she lost her position.. and her job. It happened just a few weeks ago. I knew of her plan because she talked about it recently.. She always mention the person when we talk about her work, and how the presence of the said person makes her unhappy.. I'm giving that person the benefit of the doubt because I know her too.. in fact she's my cousin.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Page, that's a great philosophy to live by.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Too true, drbj. We'd all be running into each other. And who'd do the chores?? lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, Beata!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Yep, Clover - that's what I try my best to do!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Same here, HH. Don't allow him to take up space in your head or heart!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Manthy, great allusion to Moby Dick. You're right, of course. Thanks for reading!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      htodd, thank you very much!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Alta, that's a bad situation. Revenge often backfires. You were wise to stay out of the fray!

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