I tried to expand my perspective of the one who hurt me. When I did this, I truly saw all sorts of hurts in this person.  Do you know what effect this had on me?  It made me not like myself because I now ask this: “How could I not have seen all of this before?” I think I am stupid and so now I am not liking myself very much.  Help!

Let us take comfort from Aristotle here.  This ancient Greek philosopher instructed us that it takes much time and effort to grow in each of the moral virtues such as justice, patience,  kindness, and forgiveness.  None of us is perfect as we try to exercise any of these virtues.  As part of the process of growing in the moral virtue of forgiveness, we are challenged to take this wider perspective on those who have been unjust to us.

I have found that it is quite rare for people to take this wider perspective without some instruction.  So, please be gentle with yourself.  You still are growing in this moral virtue.  You cannot be expected to be perfect in this process. So, as you take this longer perspective on the one who hurt you, please try to be encouraged that you, like most of the rest of us, do not automatically generate such thinking.

Therefore, you definitely are not, in your word, “stupid.” We are all on this journey of discovery and it is all right that we are not perfect at this point.  In fact, Aristotle counsels us that we never reach full perfection in any of the moral virtues.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

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