I have a problem with my partner. He does not see that he has hurt me, despite my best efforts. I now am wondering if reconciliation is even possible. What I mean is that he keeps hurting me and doesn’t even see it.
This is a difficult situation because you now have a lack of trust that he can change. I recommend that you first forgive him and from that softened-heart position, approach him at an opportune time and have this kind of a conversation with him: First, you could let him know that you suspect that he is practicing the psychological defense of denial, in that he possibly is afraid to see the truth of his hurtful actions. Second, if he begins to see that he indeed is using the defense of denial, you then can let him know the extent of your hurt, for example, on a 1-to-10 scale with 10 being an enormous amount of hurt. Third, if he sees this hurt and sees it as caused by his actions, the next step is to work with him on a plan to deliberately change the behavior that is causing the hurt. Please keep in mind that even if all three strategies work, it still will take some time for you to build up trust because this tends to develop slowly after a pattern of injustices that cause hurt. Your continuing to forgive may increase your patience with the trust process.
You talk about the “worldview” or one’s philosophy or theology in life. Suppose I forgive but cannot reconcile with the one who hurt me. Might this lack of reconciliation keep me bitter, keep me mistrustful, and actually not alter my worldview to a more positive state once I forgive?
Forgiving can help us to see the special, unique, and irreplaceable character of each person, not just toward the one you are forgiving. When this happens, your trust can increase, not toward the one who hurt you and who remains unrepentant, but now toward more people in general. As you forgive, you realize that all people are capable of love, even though some do not necessarily express it. Some will choose not to love, in which case your trust remains low toward them, but you also begin to realize that other people, who have the capacity to love, do want to grow in this moral virtue. It is in this realization by the forgiver that the worldview can become more positive as trust, toward some, is realistically enhanced.
Power makes me a man. Forgiveness makes me a wimp. Hey, I like those 2 sentences. Maybe you can use them in your forgiveness talks. Really now, don’t you think that humans are made for power……you know, the survival of the fittest.
There is a big difference between power **over** others and power **for** others. The former leads to domination, which might lead you eventually to have to forgive yourself for treating people as pawns in your quest for domination over them. On the other hand, power **for** others means that you use what influence or skills you have to make a better world for others. This can require strength of character, patience, altruism, and even suffering for those others. So, which form of power are you discussing: power **over** or power **for**? This distinction makes all the difference.
You just made a distinction between power **over** and power **for.** I will take power **over** all the time because this power **for** others usually results in my being taken advantage of. No thank you. I am better off being the one in charge.
Your trust seems to be damaged. If so, this idea of power **over** others may be a defense mechanism to aid you in not being hurt again. Am I correct about this? If so, then your quest for power **over** others will not heal your inner wounds caused by others. Of course, I could be wrong about this, but please introspect for a while to see if you have unresolved inner wounds in need of healing. Please write back if you have new insights.
How can one reconcile with a NPD spouse, who has been emotionally and physically abusive and forced to leave?
Humility: What Can It Do for You? (This link will take you to my personal guidance column at Psychology Today.)