Let Go of Your Revenge Plot and Get More Sleep

The best reason to release the grudges you’re holding is that not doing so silently empowers those who’ve wronged you. Maybe they don’t know it, but you do while you lose mental energy and sleep imagining a Count of Monte Cristo-style revenge story worthy of induction into the canon of classic literature. The fire of righteous indignation (e.g., “Yeah, I make mistakes, too, but I’d never do that!”) consoles you only for a few moments before it, like every fire, burns itself out. Unfortunately, a fire like that continues to burn only when stoked by unnecessarily rehearsing and reliving the moments when you were hurt, let down, or offended. Even if you have the time and intelligence to develop and execute the ideal revenge plot, do you really want to spend it that way? (Ok, sometimes.)

There are physical and mental health benefits and other logical reasons to learn to let things go. Often enough, it’s illogical to expect logic to trump emotion or whatever else might compel a person to do one thing when they know another thing is better.

But the longer you hold onto something like that, the more you harms yourself beyond having suffered the incident you’re upset about. Your self-destructive behavior might include spontaneous activities that might be celebratory in some situations, but injurious in yours, because you’re just suppressing the feelings you need to handle, directly. It may include blaming yourself for not seeing it coming,  lamenting over the red flags you ignored, or listening to well-meaning but insensitive tsk-tsking from your friends who say “You should have known better. Didn’t this sort of thing happen in a movie you like?” Looking for mistakes helps, but any therapeutic activity becomes damaging if engaged for too long, especially when you start second-guessing and blaming yourself beyond what’s necessarily to learn what to do next time. Time, itself, heals nothing; it’s the action you take over time that provides the results you want.

Forgiving yourself and others isn’t just the high road, it’s the only road. I once thought  forgiveness was a benefit to the offender, as if to minimize or somehow justify the wrong by trying to think less of it than I really did. Actually, forgiving is the only thing short of Michael Corleone-like revenge that frees me from the feelings I don’t want, even when it’ll be a while before I no longer think of the incident(s) so readily. And there will always be reminders. You go to a place and remember how it used to be to go to that place with so-and-so. Why isn’t he or she here, too? Oh, that’s right… things happened. That’s why forgiving is necessary: you can’t forget. There’s no forgiving and forgetting. That should be an “or.” If forgetting were an option, that would make this much easier. It’s rare that the wrongs we suffer actually result in the inability to remember what happened, so we’re stuck with making a difficult choice.

Having a choice also makes you less of a victim. If logical reasons aren’t enough to choose to move on rather than to hold on and fall into a downward spiral of your own making, consider more selfish ones. I got tired of over-thinking it and them after my mental revenge movie replayed itself one too many times. Losing sleep over people I couldn’t stand got old. It was annoying, even to me. Let other people injure me, but I won’t do it to myself, ever. I forgive, not because I’m more virtuous or wiser than the next person. The time I spent keeping myself angry was time better spent moving on to relationships with different people, or warming up to reconciling if the relationship was worth it (sometimes, it is). It’s at least better spent avoiding being that person, myself. Of course, I have been that person before, which is why I know not go too far thinking of how much worse someone else is for doing something I wouldn’t.

If none of that works, then consider how unlikely it is that the people you’re thinking about–even if they’re remorseful or profusely apologetic–are as distraught as you are, they’re not. They’ve obviously got their own issues to resolve (after all, look at what they’re capable of). Maybe they’ve decided changing is more profitable than falling into the emotional bottomless pit of reliving old things, repeatedly. Or maybe they’ve just moved on to the next person. Some people are just bad people. But who cares what they’re up to? You don’t. You reconcile with them or you remove yourself. Either way, your life is too short to hold a grudge. It’s also too long to carry baggage.


One Response to “Let Go of Your Revenge Plot and Get More Sleep”
  1. Gnetch says:

    Dude. Awesome post!

    And I’m kind of guilty of this. But it really takes a lot to make me seriously angry. There are situations/people though that I cannot just forgive and forget. That when I get reminded of them, I get upset/angry again.

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