Understanding how emotions and thoughts influence behavior is important for people who have intense emotions and are often ruled by them. Knowledge about emotions and the thoughts that strengthen or soften those emotions can help people develop ways to better manage their actions.
One urge that people experience but rarely discuss is revenge. Webster’s online dictionary defines revenge as to avenge (as oneself) usually by retaliating in kind or degree or to inflict injury in return for something, such as to revenge an insult.
The struggle with revenge is centuries old. Shakespeare said, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” Shakespeare clearly thought revenge was as normal and predictable as the sun rising.
Maybe, but what about the idea that revenge is self-destructive? Confucius said , “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Gandhi seemed to agree with him when he said, “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Revenge seems to be one of the deepest instincts we have. Who hasn’t said, “I hope he gets his,” or wished that Karma would strike sooner rather than later? Dirty Harry’s “Go ahead, make my day” resonates across generations. Out of control revenge, attack and counterattack, can be blinding and destroy the lives of all involved. But our instincts and emotions usually serve a purpose.