Walk a mile in another’s shoes

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With thanks to Don Charisma for reminding me of the Poster Edges function in Photoshop πŸ™‚

Until you have walked in someone else’s shoes, you know not their journey.

I had a conversation with someone yesterday in relation to the blog post I wrote last weekend about the suicide of Charlotte Dawson. This person was gobsmacked that I harboured the feelings that I did. (There’s that old face we show to the world being different to what’s going on inside thing again).


What I didn’t expect to hear though was this vibrant, funny, upbeat and positive person was hiding the same demons as me. I was stunned to hear her stories of sitting in the corner of a room and staring at the walls for hours at a time because it was easier than coping with the life going on around her.
It’s funny how I want people to cease taking me at face value and realise that I am not who I portray but that I am guilty of doing the same to others.
My belief is that every single person is guilty of judging others by something as simple as the way they act, what they wear, who their friends are or even how they look.
I am a people watcher. I enjoy it. Every person is unique and I find delight in watching the interactions of others – particularly whilst I am sitting at a food court or another gathering place for the human race.
But I am also guilty of judging others.
I have raised my eyebrows at teenage mothers. Or shuddered at the person who really should have looked in the mirror before leaving the house.
But who am I to know their circumstances?
That teenage mother could very well be a victim of incest or rape.
The person who I believe was poorly dressed may only have a few items of clothing in their wardrobe.
First impressions are not always the correct ones.

Yesterday (whilst out shopping),Β  the Tween nudged me and pointed out one such person who we believed should have looked in the mirror and realised that a midriff top just didn’t go well with a muffin top. However as I continued to watch this young girl, I saw her weaving between people and singing and chatting to herself. She wasn’t hurting anyone but she was raising eyebrows. After my initial agreement of her terrible dress sense, I realised that this young girl had something else going on in her life. I have no way of knowing what it was but I was reminded that my snap judgement was more than likely way off base. I was guilty of judging her based on her appearance.

What is it about the human race that causes us to view others through different lenses to the ones with which we view ourselves? What makes another person wrong if they don’t subscribe to our way of thinking?
Remember the horrible saying “There is more than one way to skin a cat”? It’s so true. For every task, there is more than one way to achieve the final outcome.
Everyone is different.
Every person has been gifted with talents of differing degrees.
We each see the world in different ways.
Some of us go about things in ways that may leave others scratching their heads in bewilderment.
I guess that is what makes the world such an interesting and vibrant place.

Watching people yesterday (as I waited for the GG to come out of a store), I smiled as a young girl begged her mother to please tell her what she was planning for her upcoming birthday. I cringed as a women used her tongue as a weapon against her children. I had flashbacks of my teenage years watching small groups of young teens just ‘hanging out’ together. I enjoyed watching and imagining, as for one small period of time, I (figuratively) walked in their shoes and remembered just how wonderful life is.

It is not until we walk in the shoes of another, that we understand just why they are the way the are. It is not until we develop compassion and understanding do we become better human beings.
And that is what we want isn’t it?

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40 thoughts on “Walk a mile in another’s shoes

  1. So true. I think humans developed our finely honed capacity to be judgmental and critical of others as an evolutionary advantage for our “tribe” – preferring our own over others was a good way for our genes to be propagated – and I believe studies have demonstrated this tendency in various ways. Still, we need to change our mindset, because we’re all humans on our sweet, hurting little world, and we need to cultivate peace, fellow-feeling and a constructive mindset, so we can not only enjoy ourselves and support each other, but perhaps even survive into the future!

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    1. I hadn’t thought about the whole ‘survival of the fittest’ thing but it’s not as if life is like that any longer. You’re right that our world is sweet and hurting but it is only by us trying not to judge others that we are going heal.

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  2. I’m in the middle of ‘penning’ a post on a similar thought. πŸ™‚ Great minds and all that hahaha. I must say I’d happily walk anyone’s life in theose shoe in your post. I love high shoes πŸ™‚

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  3. I’m often guilty of judging people for their judgmentalism. I’m often judged myself – and don’t tend to judge others. Sometimes we need to learn the hard way though.

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    1. Catch 22 for you there Linda – don’t judge those who judge. Which sucks because when you are the recipient of some of those looks and attitudes, it hurts when you realise that you haven’t judged others so how come they do it to you.

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  4. Your honesty in this post really spoke to me. You’re right. We’ve all judged in instances where we had no right to. We never know why a person acts, talks, walks or dresses the way they do. We’re not them and they’re not us. There’s always something hidden below every surface.

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    1. Yes there is.
      A couple of weeks ago I was out with my daughter of the heart (she was my stepdaughter at one time) and her son. This woman is the most gentlest, kindest and loving human being and her children are growing up the same way. She was pushing her youngest in a pram and we were in a fabric store. She was unaware that he was touching some of the pretty colours until the store keeper told her about it. She apologised and moved him away. What made me angry enough to walk out of the store without even looking any further was his comment to the ladies he was serving about irresponsible parents. Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he has had children in there run their dirty hands over fabrics in the past however, he had no right to make that comment.
      Okay, now I have ranted. But it illustrates my point that nobody knows the person just by looking at them.

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  5. You are pointing something very important out here Sue. Not to be judgmental. It sounds easy not to be, but demands patience to learn.
    I decided some years ago to stop being judgmental. Just watch other people without to judge them, with an open mind. By practise it becomes more easy.
    Thanks for being you and sharing this Sue.
    Irene

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  6. Everyone is on a journey and has different needs. The needs dictate the level of their awareness and empathy of others. Their concept of self is not firmly established enough for them to move to the next level. I wonder if it is the need for belonging that makes one judgemental to others. Keeping an open mind is sometimes difficult but can be done.

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      1. Being actually in those shoes can help the educative process I think. Remember the blue eyes, brown eyes experiment? Role modelling might be a good way to change attitudes that ate deeply entrenched. I wonder if it can be applied to instances of bullying, to which judgemental comments are similar.

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        1. I guess judgmental comments are similar to bullying. I was referring more to the inner judgements in my blog however I can see the promise in role modelling as a way in which to understand another.

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  7. Sue, Beautifully written! Stepping back when we catch ourselves judging and reminding ourselves that we don’t know the inner struggles of others (so, who are we to judge…) is a great practice. As I mentioned to traveling macs, I also wrote a post last night about judging. You may be surprised when you read it….. We all have the ability to judge or be kind. But it takes work!

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    1. I know it can be done but it’s funny how it becomes an automatic response in situations. Maybe it is as DB above suggested and that it is genetic programming in relation to the survival of the fittest.

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  8. Love this Sue! But on a funny note (how surprising), there’s no way I can walk in THOSE yellow shoes! Gone are heels for me, lol. I’m living in the flatlands now. πŸ™‚

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      1. haha, well I will say i too have one pair of boots that have a short heel. i can’t believe I’m in the stage of my life where sensible shoes would be part of my wardrobe!

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  9. Well said. I think we all look at others in judgement and it is not until we see past the package that we really see the person.
    Compassion and acceptance go a long way.

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