22 June 2011

In Their Shoes

One of the most important pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard is not to judge people until you’ve walked in their shoes.  Another important piece of advice for me is to listen to advice from other people who have learned through experience.

You see, almost everyone has heard the advice about walking in other people’s shoes.  Most people, though, don’t take advice like that to heart, and thus they lose the opportunity to learn some very important things about life and living.

Something very important about walking in other people’s shoes is the fact that it’s about the only way that we can learn true compassion.  When we see what other people are going through and try to understand it through the framework of our own feelings and experiences, then we simply can’t understand the truth of what they’re going through.  If we try to open our minds to understanding that there are other ways to experience things, we just might get a small indication of what it’s like to feel what they’re feeling.

And only when we get that small indication can we begin to feel compassion.  Only then can we accept that even if someone is experiencing things in ways that I never have, that doesn’t change their pain or their joy or their confusion or their satisfaction.  When we can step back and allow others to experience life in their own ways, then we can start to feel a part of a greater whole–then we can truly feel part of the human race.

Everyone is living his or her unique life.  That’s the beauty of being part of a world of individuals.  Our job isn’t necessarily to understand what others are going through or controlling it or fixing it, but simply allowing it to be and responding to it not according to what we think is expected of us, but according to what our true, sincere and authentic reaction is, the one that feels best to us as kind, considerate, compassionate human beings.

When life's problems seem overwhelming, look around and see
what other people are coping with.  You may consider yourself fortunate.

Ann Landers

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