Eleven Hints for Life – 8 of 11

8. Always put yourself in the other’s shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the person too. – Unknown

Well, this hint seems to be close to a no-brainer, or is it? While this sounds like a simple interpretation of the so-called Golden Rule; another quote from George Bernard Shaw may cause you to pause and think a bit on this one.

colorful shoes “Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

What Shaw is saying to us is important to us because we are all want to put ourselves in those others shoes by interpreting the situation for them through our on perspective. I suspect that hurtful things are hurtful no matter what perspective you view them from and because of that our hint for the day is valid; however, in many other cases of trying to put ourselves in the other persons shoes we simply are not operating from the same frame of reference as they are and we may be way off base.

Shaw’s advice is particularly true when you try to cross cultural boundaries. If you did not grew up African-American or Asian or Indian or whatever the culture of the other person may be, then you cannot easily slip into their shoes and make any kind of a value judgment of the situation or how that person would react. Shaw was not talking just about tastes, it’s about your frame of reference to the world and how that may vary greatly from someone else’s.

I found a good read on this topic by a PhD who happened to write for the Hubpages.com site. He identified 8 factors that impact communications when you start crossing cultures. They are:

Cultural Identity

Racial Identity

Ethnic Identity

Gender Role Identity

Individual Personality

Social Class Identity

Age Identity

Roles Identity

You can click here to read the whole article. He identifies himself as ecoggins at the site and in his bio. What ecoggins is saying is that you might have to slip into 8 pairs of shoes to truly understand where that other person is coming from, which is really to say that it is impossible.

I guess it is best to leave today’s hint alone at its most simple level – if you feel it would hurt you if someone said it or did it to you, then there is a good chance that it angry womanwould hurt someone else, too; so, don’t do it.

Maybe the thing to focus upon in today’s hint is to ask what is motivating the thing that you were about to do or say about (or to) someone else that might hurt them. What kind of behavior on their part is driving you to do or say anything that you would feel hurt about if someone did or said it to you?

If you stop and ask that question; maybe you can then refocus upon what you really need to be expending your energy upon; which is to find a way to forgive them for whatever has driven you to this point, so that you can move on with your life. Start by admitting that you don’t understand their point of view (their frame of reference on things) well enough to understand what made them do whatever it is that you are thnk about itreacting to. Perhaps they did not stop and think about how it might hurt you. But causing a hurt back is not the answer.

One of the least understood but most liberating of human reactions to bad things that others do to us is our ability to forgive. You can see it in news stories of the loved ones of a victim of a heinous crime forgiving the person who committed the crime. The initial reaction is to ask, how could they do that? Once you understand the power of forgiveness; the real question is, “how could they not do that?” Forgiveness is so important to our well-being that the staff at the Mayo Clinic posted an article about it. To read what they have to say, click here.

So, this hint for life can serve a couple of purposes. It can hopefully prevent you new shoesfrom doing or saying something hurtful; and, it can help you deal better with someone who has done or said something hurtful to you. Either way, you get to try on a new pair of shoes, and who doesn’t like to do that.

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One Response to Eleven Hints for Life – 8 of 11

  1. […] trying to understand someone else’s point of view by putting yourself in their shoes in my post Eleven Hints for Life – Number 8. A take-away from that post is how hard it is to allow for all of the cultural differences that […]

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