I'll Make Them Pay For What They Did!
Getting even with people who hurt us. That’s what we all want right? To make them PAY!?
I get it…but it’s actually a bit of a mind trap to hold onto anger. The emotion of anger is really important because it tells us something is happening that we don’t like, but when we let that emotion dominate us, our mental survival patterns kick in and we try to protect ourselves by getting back at them or getting even.
When we do that, when we take revenge or focus on taking revenge, we have the illusion that we are more powerful. But the problem with using aggression to gain power, is that when we are being aggressive, angry, and resentful, we are actually still in a position of victim underneath.
Because our anger really comes from a place of hurt. Looking again at Karpman’s Drama Triangle, when we are being the “persecutor” or wanting to take revenge or make other people pay, we are going to bounce back and forth between feeling helpless, and angry…helpless, and angry - because we are not in a position of true power. When we are reacting to something someone else did, we are actually still trapped by the situation because what we are doing is totally dependent on what is happening around us.
For instance, if someone tells me I look ugly, and I feel hurt and lash out by telling them that no one likes them or cares what they think, my response is not really my own - it’s a reaction to what they said, and so I am at their mercy…I am giving away my power.
I am saying that if they want to control me, all they need to do is say something mean, and I will automatically respond back in the same way. I will sink to their level, and therefore they are dominating how my personality plays out.
The only way to reconnect with our true power is to find a way to gain perspective so that we are no longer in a tunnel-vision survival anxiety response. Because remember - anytime we are blaming someone else for how we feel, we are not acknowledging our own power. So we are actually holding ourselves back!
Because if we just look at things differently, we can see the potential that is in every situation…For instance, let’s take an example of a young girl who is being bullied. At first, she blames herself and thinks it’s her fault because her survival brain doesn’t see a way out and is trying to fix things. She feels shame, self-doubt, and her mind is full of negative thoughts. She is in 'victim'. Then her angry response kicks in as a scramble to find more power, and she slides into the role of persecutor. She wants to get back at these people who hurt her, wants them to pay. She becomes consumed with rage at what they have done to her. And she is absolutely justified in this!! Being bullied is NEVER ok and always needs to stop. But if this girl stays stuck in the drama triangle, what will happen is that she will keep these negative thoughts about herself alive because she is fixed in a mental pattern that won’t let her see things any other way.
We are going to get more into the specifics of bullying dynamics in the future, but for now what we want to notice is that for this girl, the anger and resentment she feels is actually keeping her stuck in the drama of the situation, still feeling like a victim, and still powerless to escape.
If she can find the courage to reach out and ask for help, or someone in her life can be wise and brave enough to notice what is happening and offer assistance, then her whole experience can shift. Once we have support, we can gain perspective. Someone coming from the outside can see clearly how amazing this young girl is, can see the reality that getting bullied is NOT her fault, and can remind her of her brilliance and strength and beauty. Her anxiety response can then calm down, and her mind can take in this new and more realistic perspective. Once she can see herself in a new light, and can see that this experience is not a reflection of her own self-worth but in fact simply a hard experience that she is going through, she can find the resources to cope with it.
Through acknowledging her own pain and that what is happening is not ok, she will be able to use this experience for growth.
She will most likely develop an incredible ability to have empathy for others who are suffering, and will find within her a strength and wisdom deeper than others her own age could ever even dream of having. By stepping off the drama triangle and no longer seeing herself as a victim, all of a sudden she can see her true power. See that she is capable of anything, that no amount of negative feedback from others can take away how amazing she is at her core.
And then she can see that all of the things she has been through actually make her stronger, and that having the courage to be vulnerable is truly the strongest thing she can ever do.
She can learn the incredible lesson that what other people say doesn’t define her. And then she has to power to define herself.
Check out my Youtube video here on Sarah, an inspiring teenager who went through this exact experience.