Put Yourself in the (Wrong) Shoes

“Whenever someone has done wrong by you, immediately consider what notion of good or evil they had in doing it. For when you see that, you’ll feel compassion, instead of astonishment or rage. For you may yourself have the same notions of good and evil, or similar ones, in which case you’ll make an allowance for what they’ve done. But if you no longer hold the same notions, you’ll be more readily gracious for their error.”


The next time someone does something that hurts you, take a moment and do something radical instead of your normal reaction. Try putting yourself in their (wrong) shoes, just to see why they might have done it.

They almost certainly didn’t intend to harm you. They probably thought they were doing the right thing, actually.

Consider the thought process they used. Perhaps you’ll find that you would have done the same thing, if you were in their position. By looking in the mirror like this, you might find that you have a little more compassion toward them, and are able to let it go instead of striking back.

Try to see their true intentions, says The Daily Stoic book, in today’s chapter. See if you can find a way to be gracious toward those who are just flat-out wrong. Adjust your perspective by putting yourself in their shoes and understand that their motivation was good, even if their action wasn’t.

Remember that harm is subjective. It’s only harmful if we decide it is. We have a choice in how we react — we don’t have to be offended or hurt. And we have an obligation to use the full power of our reasoned choice to respond in a calm and measured way.

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