Is Revenge Really Sweet? By Dr Linda Berman


51253837827_721a99dc5e_oRené Magritte – Revenge [1936]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.”

seamus heaney

  • The Joys And Perils Of Seeking Revenge.

We all experience feelings of revenge, of wanting to ‘get even’ with someone who has hurt us and to hurt them back.

We may find some pleasure fantasising about and inventing in our heads all sorts of weird and sadistic acts of revenge raining down upon those who hurt us:

Roy Lichtenstein – Whaam! [1963]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.”

Mary Higgins Clark

“Such were my wild words, for madness had mastered my judgement and gained complete control.”

Virgil, The Aeneid

40125158654_52d2cd1fa3_oDigital Painting. Venture Minimalists. Flickr.

“May the fleas of a thousand camels invade the crotch of the person that ruins your day. And may their arms be to short to scratch.”

Keisha Keenleyside

However, whilst it might be important to allow ourselves to think about and acknowledge our wildest thoughts in our need for revenge (and maybe discuss it with trusted others, or in therapy), acting out such feelings may not be appropriate or wise.

“Revenge is always sweet, it’s the aftertaste that’s bitter.”

Joshua Caleb

We need to think carefully, before we act.

51228327548_f36db6c830_oMark Edwards – Deciding What to Do [2020] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“It is commonly said that revenge is sweet, but to a calm and considerate mind, patience and forgiveness are sweeter.”

Isaac Burrow

50093018626_3d953d6bbe_oJack Vettriano – Cocktails and Broken Hearts [c.2013] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.”

Shannon L. Alder

Obviously we will experience pain if we are hurt, but setting out to give that pain back to the one who has offended or hurt us will most likely end in further suffering for oneself.

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza
John George Brown – Bully in the Neighbourhood [1866] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.”

Lao Tzu

When we are upset, we can often tend to ‘shoot from the hip,’ to retaliate without thinking or giving ourselves space and time to reflect.

Like a boomerang, revenge can increase in momentum, and return to hit us in the face.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”


“Vengeance is a monster of appetite, forever bloodthirsty and never filled.”

Richelle E. Goodrich

Making the other person suffer in the way that we have, may rebound on us and it is unlikely to make us feel better anyway.

Perhaps we might feel happy that we have taken revenge in the moment, but afterwards, other feelings, such as guilt and remorse, may creep in.

“Revenge can only be found on the road to self-destruction.”

Wayne Gerard Trotman

38783496104_9c9bd789cd_oTom Lovell – Shot in the Dark [1943]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”


Perhaps we can learn to accept that there will be people in our lives who cause us pain, and avoid interacting with them, if possible, in order to protect oneself, rather than out of revenge.

  • Maintaining One’s Integrity.

“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.”

Marcus Aurelius

Maintaining one’s integrity in the face of another hurting and offending us may not always be easy. It is tempting to retaliate in kind and wreak revenge- and havoc.

Staying true to oneself will involve the ability to keep calm and congruent with one’s own values and perspective on life.

If someone is intentionally rude, thoughtless, causing us pain or gaslighting us, it is important that we see this as the other’s problem, make efforts to protect ourselves, and not become embroiled in energy-wasting battles.

There is no rule or compulsion to forgive; forgiveness might happen only if it helps us to feel better or move on.

Some things can be unforgivable; such lack of forgiveness may function as a kind of shield against further wounding and it does not have to be regarded as vengeful.

“Some people will label you as vindictive, unforgiving or even evil for not allowing them to hurt you, yet again.”

Wayne Gerard Trotman


“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

Lao Tzu.

Whilst it may be entirely appropriate, and sometimes necessary, to feel and express anger in a controlled manner when you feel unjustly treated, actually working towards wreaking revenge may end up being counter-productive, with events possibly spiralling out of control.

“Anger ventilated often hurries towards forgiveness; anger concealed often hardens into revenge.”

Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

“If you seek revenge, it means you’re scared or you feel guilty for what happened in some way. It’s okay to be angry with someone, but don’t think about revenge. It’s like a disease that eats you up.”

David Miller

41595999901_cbefbd8166_oStanley Spencer – Portrait of Dr Bierer [1943] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”

Rudyard Kipling(If)

  • The Difference Between Revenge And Justice.

“Only remember this: to seek justice is a good and noble thing, to seek revenge out of hatred is something that will devour your very soul.”

James Mace

If someone has hurt or wronged us in a way that breaks the law, then we are well within our rights to seek justice in a legal way.

This is different from revenge, in that we have the back-up and support of the legal system. It is not a personal vendetta or a one-sided decision to seek justice.

The hope is that this will bring a conclusion to a difficult situation that will result in a balanced, fair-minded and non-retaliative decision.

27152909283_1de90df9c8_oScott Fraser – Heavy Metal [2015]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.” 

Samuel Johnson.

  • So What Can We Do If We Have Unresolved Feelings Of Revenge?

Moving on in your life regardless of the other person indicates that the other has little effect , even though it may feel they are trying to spoil things for you.

Being able to live life to the best of our abilities is a healthy response to feeling hurt by another. Constantly focussing on the hurt feelings will have the opposite result; it will perpetuate the bitterness and rancour that you feel inside.

“A man who contemplates revenge keeps his wounds green.”

Francis Bacon

“Living well is the best revenge.”

George Herbert.

  • Karma

image“I’m not one to take revenge. If someone does something wrong to me I leave it in the hands of the universe to take care of that person.”

Lana Parrilla

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

Wayne Dyer.

‘What goes round comes round,’ is a familiar old saying; it is close to the Buddhist and Hindu concepts of Karma.

“Revenge is counter-productive. Let them drown in the pool of their bad Karma. Going into their pool just to fight them satisfies your ego but harms your soul.”


If we tend to behave badly to others in life, then the concept of cause and effect will, at some point, inevitably come into play, and we will receive some sort of retaliatory action.

24952278343_e9e4e245ac_oJeff Hein – Facing the Mob [2006]. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Every blade has two edges; he who wounds with one wounds himself with the other.”

 Victor Hugo

©Linda Berman.

I hope you liked reading this post. If so, please do feel free to join the ever-expanding list of followers of You will receive email updates about the next post straight to your inbox. Thank you. Linda.🌹


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