This goes hand in hand with forgiveness, because sometimes we think it is our job to punish people for treating us badly. “I’m going to make them pay!” “They’ll regret ever hurting me.” “I’ll get them back!”
But I have some good news for you! When someone has a tendency to treat people badly and does not take others’ feelings into account, they will end up hurting themselves more than anything you could ever do to them. I’m not saying this will happen overnight. And sometimes we may not think it’s a mistake at the time. Take, for example, a parent who works excessively and does not have time to spend with their children. They may reason: I am working hard so that I can provide a nice home, clothing and a comfortable lifestyle for my kids. Truthfully, those are all good things, and there is no right answer. The problem will come twenty years from now, when the children are grown. How will they feel? Will they be thankful that you provided them with an abundant home, designer clothing and all the best money can buy, or will they be resentful because they felt you were never around when they needed you most?
Or let’s use a more black-and-white decision as an example: to have an extramarital affair. You can do it—many people do—and you probably won’t get arrested, but what consequences will you have to live with from that one mistake? Divorce, guilt, loss of trust. You may not see the consequences right away, because you are caught up in the moment, but there will be consequences and they will produce a ripple effect for years to come.
My parents, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my brother and my sister, as well as myself, are all living with our mistakes. No one can do more damage than we can do to ourselves. So when you feel like it’s your job to get even, just step back and smile, fully confident that things have a funny way of coming back around.