It’s Okay to Get Mad But Don’t Get Even

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It’s happened to most of us at some point: Someone did something that left us feeling mad, hurt, betrayed, lied to, cheated on. Maybe it was a business colleague, a competitor, a partner, or a friend or family member.

Whoever it was, whatever the circumstances, it’s human nature to want to strike back. When we’re deeply hurt, it’s natural to want to get even.

But it’s almost always the more prudent path to turn the other cheek. The best leaders get mad—sometimes very mad—when it’s called for, but they don’t concern themselves much with getting even.

That doesn’t mean they don’t feel mad or get the wind knocked out of their sails, or that they don’t have the same human instincts as the rest of us. It just means that they understand the high price of grudges and payback.

Here’s some of what they can teach us on the subject:

Grudges hurt us. Holding onto a grudge drains us, consumes our time, and takes up precious emotional space. As someone once said, it’s like drinking poison and then waiting for your enemy to die. So unless it’s your intention is to become bitter and beaten, better to let it go.

It’s better to practice moving on than standing still. Don’t waste your moments, weeks, years, brooding or plotting about getting even. It will only hold you back from what you are meant to do, keep you stuck and unable to getting back to the business of being you are meant to be.

Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. The most destructive vice we can have—even more than pride—is self-pity. It’s a mindset that destroys everything else around it. Don’t give it an inch.

Forgiving doesn’t have to mean forgetting. Failure to forgive shows our own weakness; forgiveness shows strength. But you don’t have to choose to be a sap. You can forgive without forgetting or, if necessary, forgive while letting go of the relationship.

Remember that this too shall pass. Dwelling on what’s wrong, brooding on what happened—whatever form it takes, it distracts you from your focus. Remind yourself that change is inevitable and life will find a way to move us past even the worst of times.

Put it behind you. The best gift you can offer yourself is to put things behind you and not look back. As the song says, shake it off. Work on your own growth and the lessons you can learn.

Learn to manage your emotions. Allow your reaction to be fast and furious if that’s your style—vent it out with full emotion and then let it go. Manage your emotions with intelligence, knowing that an immediate reaction can be helpful even if you don’t plan to stay there.

Don’t allow resentment to feed on weakness. When resentment keeps us from our best selves, it becomes counterproductive. Don’t feed something that will just leave you feeling defective and deflated.

Focus your passion on positive things. Once you’re through the initial anger, don’t waste your passion on anger. Use it to bring good into the world.

The best we can do is to accept what has transpired and have the dignity to move on. Life has a way of hitting us with hurtful things sometimes. Whether it’s a competitor or a cheater, the test of our character is how we move on and forge forward.

Lead From Within: We assume that the admirable leaders and successful people do not carry around demons like the rest of us. But they do, of course. What sets them apart is how quickly and decisively they can banish those demons and move on.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. sunil jogdeo

    28. Oct, 2014

    Hello Lolly, as usual, short and sweet message through your article. There are two faculty of our mental section. (a) Intelligence (b) Emotion. A good balanced combination of this works well for us. Too much of either (a) or (b) results into even way of thought process. Thank you for the article.

    Reply to this comment
  2. John

    28. Oct, 2014

    Great post, Lolly! It’s ok to feel our emotions and understand them nd what they have to say but also good not to let our emotions get the better of our true desires and intent to love. Very good advice and articulated so well. I really like this, “When we turn away retaliation we get redemption”. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Fred Aubin

    28. Oct, 2014

    We all have demons ….if you don’t rule them, they’ll eventually rule you. Great post.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Lori~TranslationLady (@TranslationLady)

    28. Oct, 2014

    Hi Lolly,
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom. This resonates with me as I am coming closer to ending a partnership. I have done everything to end it amicably to no avail. I have been staying true to my heart even when I have screamed out loud in frustration. I know this is a huge lesson for me and I see a very bright light on the other side of all of this chaos. Your #leadfromwithin tweetchat and community has helped me compassionately deal with a very difficult issue.

    Thank you so very much,

    Reply to this comment
  5. LaRae Quy

    29. Oct, 2014

    Loved all of your points, Lolly.

    My favorite was this: It’s better to practice moving on than standing still.

    When we stand still we’re wasting time, and usually it’s because we’re feeling sorry for ourselves or trying to get past our ego.

    Have a fabulous week!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Panteli Tritchew

    29. Oct, 2014

    Anger, hurt and resentment are all part of the human emotional fabric. Your post is a great reminder that while all human emotions are created equal, some are more human than others. Why dwell in the swamplands of our soul when we can soar in the sky of our spirit?

    Have a great week, Lolly. Sending warm thoughts from the heart!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Peter Thomas

    12. Nov, 2014

    Focus on the situation not the person

    Reply to this comment
  8. Michelle

    19. Nov, 2014

    Great points here – One of my favorites is what someone told me long ago and I’ve never forgotten – This too shall pass. Just to remember this can get us through some difficult times.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Arran

    02. Sep, 2015

    A great message Lolly ! It’s true holding on to a hurt or past disappointment will only result in hurting you and to some extent affect your own future decisions and success.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Bwanaheri

    18. Jan, 2016

    A very insightful article. Going through the same situation at the moment. The article has just encouraged me to keep calm focus on strengths.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Tammy Nguyen

    02. Jul, 2016

    Every single blog I have read of yours has been so powerful. We truly define our character by these situations, and we how we react. Self-pity is a habit we seem to be trapped in, and is very unproductive. Focusing on the positive can definitely energize us.

    Reply to this comment
  12. asianwomanleadership

    29. Jul, 2019

    Women are taking on leadership positions at a steadier pace than ever before, according to the Pew Research Center. The statistics point to growth across several segments—state government, Fortune 500 companies and universities—but where does that leave the real estate industry?

    Majority female leadership in real estate is becoming more commonplace, as exemplified by a recent leadership restructuring at Title Alliance, a family of full-service title insurance and escrow agencies.

    Reply to this comment

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