Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes
It’s so hard to really know, feel and understand what someone else is going through if we haven’t ‘walked a mile in their shoes’. Even if we did, it would still not be the same experience. But if we could just stop and try to understand, and have some empathy for others, then we may not be so quick to judge or criticize.
Each one looks at things through their own unique lenses of thoughts, feelings and memories. Each one reacts and responds differently to life. Therefore it’s not truly fair to go through life judging what others are doing, not doing, or should be doing. We cannot possibly understand the reasons why people do what they do.
Each one of us carries so many bags and baggages with us, and all of this detritus in the soul influences how we behave. We are not necessarily responding to what is happening in this present moment, we are acting/reacting/over-reacting according to experiences from a long-gone past. For those who believe that we take many births, there is even excess baggage to consider!
Let’s look at some examples. Unless you are a mother, you cannot know the difficulties of motherhood. The pain of childbirth, the sleepless nights, the numerous sacrifices, and the relentless love and kindness that the mother continues to bestow, despite the child’s mischievous behavior.
On one level, we cannot know what it is like to have a head of white hair at a young age (unless you have one of course!) and how one needs to maintain a strong sense of self respect as people call you ‘auntie’, when inside you feel young and twenty!
And at another level completely, we have no right to comment on those who are fleeing war-torn countries, or who are stuck in inhuman conditions in camps, unless we are living their reality A to Z. It is the kind of thing that one could never truly understand unless you have been through it. The fear, the pain of abandonment and rejection, let alone the brutal trauma of war, and lost loved ones is probably unimaginable to most of us who have not experienced it.
When it comes to judgements, we usually judge others out of fear, or ignorance. We also judge ourselves, sometimes harshly, and this is equally detrimental. One aspect is to deal with the judgment coming at you, the other is the judgments we make towards others. The latter is in our hands, the former is not. Therefore, instead of immediately judging others, we can take care of our karma and focus on treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated.
In our modern, so-called advanced society, we increasingly want to live our own lives. Everyone is seeking independence and freedom. We are so busy in our own worlds that no one has time to even take off their own shoes, let alone to be able to step into those of others for even a few minutes! We need to be ‘whole’ focused and not just ‘sole’ focused; to realize the one-ness of humanity and to think of others and not just live for ourselves.
Empathy and compassion are some of the keys to a purposeful and fulfilling life. To live ‘from the heart’ makes life more meaningful than to live from the head alone. It softens and strengthens us as we exercise those muscles of kindness and compassion. In this way there is benefit all around; for the others and for us also.
Empathy will reduce conflicts in our life as we try to understand what makes someone tick. We will not take things so personally. We will not take offence for little reason. We will be more mindful and aware of the dynamics at work in our relationships.
Most of all though, where there is empathy, there is communication on a completely different level – the mind, heart and soul. In this way we recognize the subtle connections between us and can actually ‘fit’ into the shoes of each other and walk the journey of life together in peace and harmony!
It’s time… to find the time and compassion to be a little more understanding and empathetic towards others.
© ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK