The need to get even with or get back at someone whom you feel has wronged you somehow is pretty strong for some people. Unfortunately, people who behave in this manner don’t usually see that it is counterproductive and just adds fuel to the fire. If your spouse or sibling or anyone else does something that annoys you or they don’t do something you think they should have, doing something that is going to annoy them or make them angry in response is not going to make them want to do what you are asking the next time or be more careful not to annoy you. It is most likely going to have the opposite affect and make them less likely to want to do anything to make you happy. Finding a constructive way to express your frustration is a better solution, even though it is sometimes difficult to think along these lines when you are in the heat of the moment.
I think kids often see their parents assigning consequences as getting even somehow. I’m sure it feels that way to some, but it is also easier to see it that way than to admit that you deserve the consequences, unless the consequences actually are too severe or are being presented in the heat of the moment or in a way that make them seem like the parent really is trying to get even.
Unfortunately, I have a teenager who tends to post only somewhat accurate information about family situations on Facebook to throw her mom or dad under the bus without including her part in it when she doesn’t get something she wants either because of her behavior or because she didn’t get something done by a deadline, or both. That’s her way of getting even, and she hasn’t realized yet that it only makes things worse for her.
The “need to get even” mentality becomes particularly scary when we are talking about people with guns who think that they are justified in using them anytime someone wrongs them either personally or in situations like what followed in Ferguson after the announcement of the decision of the grand jury, or any other time there has been looting, gunfire, fires set, and so on after a whole group of people who feel the need to get even weren’t happy with a decision or outcome. Destroying your own community all because of the need to get even somehow, particularly when the people who own the businesses had nothing to do with the decision, is definitely not beneficial for anyone and only makes things worse because it feeds into the stereotype that certain people think is so unfairly placed upon them. All the school shootings, disgruntled postal workers, and a whole slew of other news stories where people have shot and killed one or more people that were sometimes perfect strangers, all to get even after being wronged from their perspective, are coming to mind as well.
This seems to be a very instinctive thing for so many people, so perhaps we are hard wired to think along these lines and some people are just better than others at controlling these urges. Or perhaps it is more of a learned response. Either way, more people need to realize what a destructive behavior it is and then how to control those urges, not just in newsworthy situations, but in our everyday lives. It can be difficult, as I have felt them myself from time to time even though I am typically not a vindictive person, but it can be done. Again, we need to look for constructive ways to express our frustration whenever possible, not destructive ones.
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