When someone makes you mad, really mad, like face-reddening, ready to scream, I hate you-mad; what do you do?
Well, I bet I can say what you want to do:
You want to get even.
Maybe not go so far as to ruin their life (depends on the offense, I guess) but to really hurt them like they have hurt you. You want them to feel the pain that they have inflicted on your life and your relationships and really KNOW how they hurt you.
But I can tell you a secret:
Oftentimes, you won’t hurt them in the same ways they hurt you because that isn’t possible. Your experiences, perceptions, and emotions are all your own. All of those components work together to form your reality, which is unique to you.
The same words that hurt you may mean nothing to them. The friendships you try to ruin might also mean nothing to them. Also, it should be considered what are you doing to your reputation when you do or say these things?
If you continue on your mission down the road, it’s going to look like you have a chip on your shoulder and end up making you look bad.
I know I have been in this position a time or two and I have been frustrated beyond belief when I could not seem to feel better by exacting my revenge. From the girls in middle school who talked behind my back to grown adults who act like they never left middle school, I have had the misfortune of dealing with them all.
I’ll admit it even though it’s a little corny:
My favorite movie is Mean Girls.
Movie plots make it seem so satisfying, don’t they? All I have to do is put their name in my “burn book” and watch their world crumble. But life isn’t a movie plot and it isn’t that simple.
Real life choices have real life consequences and one person’s temporary discomfort is not worth a lifetime of guilt for you.
We can actually take a lesson from the movie regarding revenge, if you really want to dive that deep into a teen comedy. A lot of the characters in that movie were spiteful. It was essentially just one big web of revenge gone wrong. Janice was trying to get revenge on Regina George through Cady, which turned into Regina getting revenge on, well, basically everyone. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t know what to tell you, spoiler alert?
But Regina George gets hit by a bus. There is your cheesy teen comedy moment but around that time Cady realizes that maybe this isn’t all worth it and it’s time to work on being a better person.
Still taking our examples from the movie, what would have happened if Cady would have just simply walked away from the burn book, from Janice’s revenge scheme, just from all of it? For one, it would have been a very short and less interesting movie but she probably could have avoided a lot of struggle and heartache on her end. All of the characters would have, actually.
That’s the unfortunate thing about revenge. It hurts us more than it hurts the other person. Sometimes we unwillingly hurt people around us. We all hear advice to “be the bigger person”, but in the moment, that isn’t always as satisfying.
How Do We Avoid a Mean Girls Revenge?
The first option is to let it go. Don’t let their words affect you and your inner peace. If what they’re saying isn’t true, then that will show in the end. If you need more help on letting it go, here‘s a nifty article I wrote on the topic.
Secondly, once you’re calm, sit down and try to objectively think what would give this person the motivation to hurt you? Do they know that they have hurt you or did they just approach you the wrong way? Sometimes our actions aren’t deliberate.
They could be having a really bad day, someone in their family could be sick, they may be stressed at work, and you may have gotten harsh words spoken at you as a result of this. We’re all human and some people deal with stress better than others. It may not even be about you at all or they may not even realize their tone when they spoke to you. Being the bigger or better person means removing yourself from the equation and really uncovering motivation.
If you are sure their motivations were malicious, confront them in a non-threatening manner. Let them know that their actions have hurt you and you want to find out why they are so upset with you, so the matter can be resolved. Although, it is important to remember that some people are just toxic people who carry toxic relationships.
Remember that hurt people, hurt people.
It isn’t your job to fix someone, so don’t try. You’ll only end up risking your peace trying to fix someone who may not even want to be fixed.
Finally, think about your actions and words before you commit to them.
- Is what you’re doing kind?
- Is it necessary?
If someone has made you this upset, you do not have to engage with them. You are not bound to any relationship or friendship you do not want to participate in.
This might be the sign it is time to let that person go and that’s okay.
- Is there room for that kind of negativity in your life?
- If this is a one time occurrence, is it simply a misunderstanding?
Refusal to react can be used as a display of power over a situation. Not reacting can show that person that they do not have control over your reactions or your emotions. A simple, non-emotional, and non-explanatory response can go a long way in placing yourself in a position of power over a negative relationship.
If you go for revenge, will the consequences be as dramatic as what’s in the movies? Probably not. But think about the way you want your real-life to go. Is it worth all that effort, upheaval, and spent negative energy just to give someone a few bad days? I’m going to go with probably not on that, too.