IN ANOTHER MAN'S SHOES
I once took a snapshot of a pair of shoes and I wondered how the owner felt wearing them every day. It was not the front of the shoes that intrigued me although the cover was tired and peeling off it could be polished, shined to look improved and accepting. It was the insole of the shoe that caught my attention, they were completely wore off and devoid of any form of comfort. Walking is not supposed to be a painful experience but to the owner of the shoes it evidently cannot be a pleasure from all indications. What coping mechanisms did he adopt during winter, raining months and summer months? How did he conceal his feelings and prevent his peers from noticing his shoes?
People might admire the owner of these shoes though they cannot see what is going on with his feet. His external expression is jovial, happy and comfortable. He comes from a huge house smiling all the time. What they are not aware of is that he sleeps on the bare floor in the corridor of the mansion.
So before you deny or belittle the impact of somebody's experience you might need to walk under the same circumstance as the other person. This is done by listening carefully and putting yourself in their shoes under the same circumstances to have a better understanding of their trauma. To sit back thinking, "How can you have suffered blisters from wearing those shoes when you a big man”- This line of thought without sufficient information and empathy can be damaging.
I spoke with an engineer who works with the London Underground and in the course of our conversation he mentioned that there are suicide attempts almost everyday. We need to be more empathetic when people express their feelings, concerns or hurtful experience. By trying to understand where they are coming from we would be in a better position to help others.
A way forward is the ability to listen and allow others express their feelings without pointing a finger at them to say, "You are wrong". To somebody in a desperate position that could be his final push. A little empathy will go a long way, if you can put yourself in another man’s shoes.