I've been exposed to the impulse for retaliation and yes, revenge in recent weeks. Not necessarily within myself but in some of my clients.
While the first counter-impulse is to beat back the urge for revenge because taking action from it would result in negative consequences, I personally don't find the impulse itself is bad. Of course, I do not encourage acting upon it based on this impulse.
In fact, like any feeling, if we look deep enough at it, this impulse can reveal something important that we need, but sadly is missing from our situation at this point in time.
For the impulse to revenge, to give an eye-for-an-eye, a -tooth-for-a-tooth, a kick-for-a-kick (you get the idea), when I've dug to the bottom for my clients, it often comes down to a simple unmet need:
Validation and acknowledgement.
It goes like this. When I asked them to really imagine vividly exacting revenge on those who have hurt them and then get in touch with how they would feel, what this would do for them, most of my clients would come up with a variation of this phrase:
"Now you know how it feels like..."
This speaks to a need in us to get the validation and acknowledgement of those who have hurt us. When I examined my life and my own impulse to revenge, it is often the same as well.
So you see, even a seemingly destructive impulse stems from a deeper feeling reaching out for validation and acknowledgement. From this deeper understanding, we can then guide ourselves to find out what steps we CAN take to hopefully meet this need.
Moral of the story?
Don't be afraid of your scary feelings. All feelings are geared towards growth. It just takes looking deeper to find out how they want to guide this growth.