May 29, 2023
Learn about schadenfreude, the feeling of pleasure derived from others' misfortunes, and how to control and reduce it for better relationships and emotional well-being.
"Schadenfreude" is a German word that describes the feeling of pleasure or joy when seeing others' difficulties or suffering. Although it sounds somewhat negative, this feeling is familiar in everyday life. In this article, we will discuss further the phenomenon of schadenfreude, why it happens, and how we can control this feeling.
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Schadenfreude occurs for various reasons. One of the factors that may influence this feeling is jealousy or envy. When someone feels jealous of others, seeing them experience difficulties or suffering can provide satisfaction. This may happen because they feel better or the person deserves punishment for their success. Another factor is competition. In competitive situations, such as in the workplace or sports, seeing competitors experience difficulties can provide satisfaction because it is seen as an opportunity to excel or win. Sometimes, seeing others suffer can trigger curiosity or interest. For example, when watching news about natural disasters or accidents, we may feel interested in learning more about what happened and how it affects those involved. Finally, seeing others experience difficulties can make us feel better about ourselves. For example, if we feel like we have failed in certain aspects of life, seeing others who also experience failure can make us feel less alone and more capable of facing the situation.
Although schadenfreude is a familiar feeling, its impact can vary depending on the situation and the individual experiencing it. For instance, frequent schadenfreude can lead to poor interpersonal relationships. People who feel mocked or ridiculed may feel uncomfortable and distant. Moreover, schadenfreude can trigger negative behaviours, such as gossiping, bullying, or sabotaging others. These behaviours are not suitable for social and work environments. Furthermore, although schadenfreude can provide momentary satisfaction, this feeling is not ideal for our emotional well-being. In the long run, schadenfreude can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or even depression.
Despite being a natural feeling, we can control and reduce schadenfreude in various ways:
  1. We can increase our empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and feel others' emotions. By increasing empathy, we can quickly feel others' feelings and find it harder to feel happy when they experience difficulties.
  1. We can focus on our happiness. We can divert our attention from others' problems and focus on our happiness and success. Doing so can reduce feelings of jealousy or envy that may trigger schadenfreude.
  1. We can seek support from friends, family, or professionals if it is hard to control schadenfreude. They can provide different perspectives and help us overcome negative feelings.
  1. We can reflect on our emotions. When we feel schadenfreude, we can reflect on why we feel happy seeing others' difficulties and what we can learn from the situation. This reflection can help us change our perspective and reduce schadenfreude.
  1. We can appreciate others' successes. We can divert our attention from others' difficulties and enjoy and celebrate their accomplishments. This can help us reduce jealousy or envy and replace them with positive feelings.
In conclusion, schadenfreude is a familiar feeling in everyday life. Although it may provide temporary satisfaction, it is unsuitable for interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being. Therefore, it is essential to control and reduce schadenfreude by increasing empathy, focusing on our happiness, seeking support, reflecting on our feelings, and appreciating others' successes. By overcoming schadenfreude, we can build better relationships with people around us and create a more positive and supportive environment. Moreover, reducing negative feelings can also positively impact our emotional well-being. So, let's start controlling schadenfreude and create a more positive and happy life.