Revenge

Revenge is a Dish Best Not Served

Revenge on Mediate2go.com

Introduction to Revenge

I can nearly guarantee that you have felt vengeful at some point in your life.  It is arguably a natural emotional response when we perceive that an injustice has been done to us.  Retribution, justice, or payback are terms sometimes used to disguise or even justify feelings of vengeance and the desire to have a wrongdoer made to suffer for their actions.  There is, of course, a difference between standing up for yourself and being malicious or antagonistic, but it can sometimes be difficult to gauge where to draw the line.  If you feel you’ve been wronged, what is the appropriate course of action?

Recognize the Feeling of Revenge

The desire for revenge is an untrustworthy emotion. As an example, there is evidence that shows that years after the offense, the satisfaction of victims’ feelings of revenge are not typically related to the severity of the punishment of the criminal.  Shortly after the time of conviction, victims were more likely to say that they felt their vengeful feelings were satisfied, but this oscillated more rapidly and was unpredictable between and within individuals. Many people think that seeking vengeance will make them feel better, or bring resolution to their problem.  In fact, it appears that this is not the case, and that unleashing aggression or retribution on someone who has wronged you may have no cathartic effect at all – and in fact it can lead to further feelings of aggression.   One possible explanation for this is that the injustice remains current (for both the offender and the “avenger”), and it detracts from the ability of the offended party to trivialize and move on from the original injustice.   Further, it is unlikely that the original offender will take any vengeful acts lightly.  There is a real danger in perpetuating a cycle of revenge, with potentially destructive costs to all involved.  

 

Consider the Cost of Revenge

In any dispute, it is common to see parties who want revenge.  One main way in which this manifests is in a Pyrrhic Victory, a “win” that is so costly, time-consuming, or relationship-damaging that it is tantamount to defeat.  It is important to watch out for this and to guard against heading down a path that leads to one.  It is unfortunate that sometimes injustices occur.  And no, it is not always the best advice to allow injustices to go unnoticed or ignored.  But it is equally important to remember all of the costs and efforts, including the mental strain and lost peace of mind that can come from a drawn-out dispute, and these tend to be even more pronounced if the relationship is very antagonistic. It is also important to consider these costs in the context of your particular situation.  Whatever injustice you have suffered may feel amplified if the perpetrator was a friend, family member, or any other person in which you held trust.  Take into account the effect that a soured relationship may have on your other relationships, including ones that may not have developed yet! Is it really worth it?
Revenge on Mediate2go.com

Strategies to Deal with “Revenge”

If you are feeling vengeful, it may be helpful to step back and consider all available options.  Every situation and relationship is different, and it can help to come to terms with the problem if you consider what could occur next. Start by considering what you would ideally like to get out of the situation. Ask yourself the reasons why, and try to imagine what the consequences could be if you got exactly what you are asking for.  Seeking outside help can be very useful in getting to the root of the issue. This could be in the form of a lawyer, a mediator, the police (if the matter is criminal), or even a medical professional. These are especially important if the issue is time-sensitive.  Speaking to someone who may be able to give you advice – even a friend or family member – is a great start.  It may help to simply have your feelings of injustice affirmed or shared.  If possible, you may wish to simply wait and reflect for some time, even if this means not contacting a family member or friend who has hurt you somehow.

It is unfortunate that sometimes, wrongs occur for which there is no apparent remedy, no “next step” that can be a distinct marker of resolution.  Sometimes this marker does not materialize immediately, and sometimes it has little to do with the effort or thought you can put into it. Vengeance, however, is untrustworthy, and a misleading hook on which to hang your dispute resolution strategy.  


Author

Dan Lawlor is a Mediate2go Blogger focused on estates and commercial dispute resolution. Dan is a graduate of McGill University's Faculty of Law with interests in conflict resolution, business law and writing. He played an important role as a director with Mediation at McGill, building connections with the community to improve outreach. Currently he is a student-at-law with Campbell Mihailovich Uggenti LLP in Hamilton, Ontario. Dan loves team sports, reading, and traveling.

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