I am fascinated with shoes. Gym shoes, sandals, boots, flat shoes, high heel shoes (my favorite!. When shopping for shoes I tend to go toward the sparkly high heel shoe on display at the department store. It’s beautiful, the perfect shoe! It’s not until I wear it when I realize how uncomfortable or painful it really is. More recently I have acquired a liking to flat comfy shoes. There I said it, “I like flat comfy shoes”. A few years ago, it was all about style; but I have learned that style without comfort is just plain wrong!
When my daughter was in second grade she brought home a shoe made of clay. They had been learning about empathy. The lesson for the day was to think about someone in their life and how it would feel to walk in that person’s shoes. She said she thought about me and everything that I did for her and our family. The shoe she made was pink & purple high-heeled shoe! She knew me well even back then.
The English dictionary defines empathy as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another…
In life, we walk through our paths, with family, friends, at work, with colleagues, and even those we’ve just met once in passing. We look at people and think “wow they have it all together; they are cool, calm and collected,” assuming that things come easy to them. At first glance it may seem that they are problem-free.
Take Facebook, for instance, it’s a place to post pictures, and status updates. It’s a place to let friends know what you’re up to, where you’re going, and where you’ve been. But do you really get the full picture of a person’s life on Facebook?
Although things may look great on the outside, until you walk in someone else’s shoes you may never know their struggles and the burdens they carry.
Think about someone in your life, how would it feel to walk in that person’s shoes? How do you best empathize with another?
Gabriela Contreras is director for meeting planning.