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Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

I’m often questioning myself on the motives of other people. Why do some react to situations differently? Why do some have such a brash attitude or a quiet demeanour? I debate with myself as to why one person reacts one way, and another person differently. It makes my mind boggle how two people are in the same situation, but have such different reactions. Do you find that too?

Have you been in a bad situation recently? Something that either caused an argument or misunderstanding between you and another person. I’ll bet the resolution came down to one of two things; you understood the other person’s view, or the other person understood your view.

More often than not, any bad situation is due to the differing perception of the people involved. There is a whole science behind this, but simply put, everyone perceives a situation differently. Due to a mixture of emotional state, memories, and personal values, people will interpret and react to situations differently.

Quite often, you probably question why someone makes a certain decision or reacts a certain way. It’s not your way. Sometimes this might cause you irritation, frustration, or even anger. These other people may feel the same way about you for something you’ve done. You certainly didn’t mean to offend that person, but because of the frustration they feel, they take it out on you by attacking you in some way – through hurtful words, or undermining some good work you’ve done. This lack of understanding from both parties is a major cause in turning any situation into a nasty one.

How do we get out of these situations? How do we stop this endless cycle of resentment, frustration, and hatefulness?

One word: Empathy.

According to the dictionary, Empathy means ‘the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings‘.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It is the first step to understanding anyone. What would you do in the same situation? Bear in mind that that person has traveled a much different path than you in life. They have loved, lost, and achieved different things. Try and think as to why they would do something a certain way.

This is very hard to do. I still struggle with it every day. For example, I am quite driven and always willing to learn and experience something at least once. It frustrates me to no end seeing someone willingly wallow and stagnant in the same rut most of their life.

But I take a deep breathe, I put myself in their shoes, try to think of how I would react (knowing what I know of their past), and I already feel more patience toward them. I understand them a little more – then I can try help them a little more.

Understanding someone else’s thought process (even a little) can go a long way in resolving situations, building trust, and living an easier life – both for you and the people around you.

Think of a situation you are stuck in at the moment where you are in conflict with someone else. Put yourself in their shoes.

Just imagine for a little while … and take your first step to greater understanding of the situation.

[Featured image: Pierre (Rennes)]

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