Cyclic retribution

Excessive sense of vengeance could take form of addiction and cause mental harm; while letting go is not always easy, some strategies may help

Cyclic retribution

I have a strange problem. I keep daydreaming about all the past hurts and grievances that have been inflicted on me by people and imagining how I would get back at them. On days I find myself so hurt by these feelings, that I feel guilty for planning and plotting revenge onto those who bullied me as a child, my colleagues who laughed at me and those who in my opinion wronged me or didn't take my side. I know I may never ever execute any of these plans but there is something about thinking of these daydreams that deeply satisfies me. Is this common?

Think of the last time someone "wronged" you. This could be the person who took your spot in the queue, or the one who nudged your vehicle from behind, or even that colleague who took all the credit for the presentation that you sat up all night and prepared. The thoughts of grievance leading to feelings of angst, anger and revenge that one feels in this case is considered a normal and appropriate response.

But when you end up "attacking" the person and they are subjected to the same set of thoughts and feelings and they too resolve their pain by intentionally hurting, slandering, or bullying you. It now becomes a vicious cycle of grievance revenge.

The cycle of revenge believes that "two wrongs make one right" but is just a faulty justification for vengeance. It often leads to colossal damage of resources, time, energy, and good faith.

When anything is done in excess it usually becomes a pattern, habit or even an addiction. Revenge addiction is the reason why some people can't get over the hurt long after others believe they should have moved on. Some even resort to violence to get back.

Did you know that your brain on grievance looks a lot like a brain on drugs? People can evidently become addicted to seeking retribution and vengeance against those who consider their "enemies".

But how much harm can dwelling and obsessing over these negative thoughts even lead to? A lot. Constantly dwelling on revenge fantasies can lead to anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, remorse and even depression. Some cite shame and guilt as key features.

So, what do you feel like doing when someone wrongs you? Should you just let it go? Can you always be the bigger person and act like nothing happened? Or should you confront them? All of these suggestions are easier said than done. Start with:

The miracle court: Try to look at the issue where you felt hurt from the points of view of being 'victim', 'accused', 'plaintiff', 'the lawyers' and a neutral third party, 'the judge'. Play it out rationally than just emotionally.

Practice forgiveness and compassion: Loving kindness meditation is a wonderful practice to help you overcome the pain and hurt. During this meditation, you focus benevolent and loving energy towards yourself, your loved ones, those who may not bring joy to your life and to the entire world. It involves phrases like "May I be happy", "May you be happy", "May you and I be kind", "May we be peaceful".

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