Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

I remember studying in college the psychology behind and behavior of rage…this past week I was reminded of it all as I was pulled off to the side of the road looking up directions to where I was going…as I was pulling away another car pulled up with a driver who acted enraged I was leaving just as he was pulling up. The reason for his rage I have absolutely no idea.

I had the choice to return to where I had originally parked and duke it out with the man, linger for too long in my head about what I could have done to incite him, or did what I felt best and just drive away, seeing his behavior as reckless.When we become depressed, over stressed, consumed with our own lives, or expect all day to day happening to be fair, we may trap ourselves in an elevated position of judging others. My wife and I often discuss what it really means to walk in others shoes. Could we possibly even really walk a day in another’s shoes without having lived in their past, present, and future? Not really, and when we start falsifying a notion that we’d be able to; all that results is entitlement, unfair judgement, and rage.

Let me give you an exceptional example of trying to truly walk in another’s shoes. My wife’s grandmother died when she was in the 6th grade. Her father, who we’ll call Peter, had never been in an accident of his own accord. But right after Peter learned of his mother death he went to go and pick up his son so they could leave for the hospital right away. As he hastily pulled out of the driveway, with the death of his own mother weighing heavily on his mind; he backed into a neighbor driving down their own street with no fault to her. He got out and profusely apologized for backing up into their her car (a less than 2 week old new convertible). The neighbor gracefully “placed herself in Peter’s shoes,” reflecting on what it was like to lose her very own mother. Upon asking about an insurance information exchange, the neighbor said it could be taken care of after things calmed down. My wife’s family went on their way to another state for the wake and funeral. When they came back into town, Peter called for settlement with both insurance companies only to find the neighbor had it already taken care of her car through her own insurance and all that was left was for Peter to fix his truck.

In further evaluation of this story, who benefitted by the neighbor placing herself in my Father-in-Law’s shoes? The neighbor had no ill feelings and only ended up experiencing compassion, empathy, and good will towards her neighbors.

Peter ended up having the utmost respect and gained a better quality friendship for a neighbor he hadn’t really known previously. Now for those of you with children, if you want the real take away…my wife has been in countless accidents in real life without any fault of her own. She’s never had the driver at fault pay, she learned early on before she ever even had her own license or car, it is never worth any animosity when an accident happens. Isn’t that the true meaning of an accident anyway? She’d rather walk away taking, the stress out of a situation than adding to it. She will go forward and teach this to our children and they on to their children…

What would life be like if we took more time to walk in anyone else’s shoes?

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