Step into their shoes

2015-03-05 11:08

In life there are things which because we are used to, we think they are just meant to be there or to be part of our life. The statement, 'Familiarity breeds contempt' really asserts this fact. Just because something is part and parcel of your environment does not make it normal to each and every person. Your 'normal' is therefore not necessarily someone else's normal- you therefore need to step into other people's shoes for you to see things as they do.

Escalator experience

A few months ago I was watching a comedy show in which a famous South African comedian was narrating how a certain African country had built a mall where the first escalator in that country had been put. He went on to mention how families would actually go to the mall to visit not for any other reason but to be able to use the escalator which they had never seen before. The audience packed up laughing because it seemed so ludicrous that people would actually do this. While watching the show at home, I did laugh because of how he put it...but it got me thinking (as most things around me do :).

Though it was something which was making us laugh, this was actually coming from a place where we are now so used to using escalators that we might not even remember what it was like before we used them. Some might have never been exposed to a time when there were no escalators. To those people the escalator was a BIG thing because it was something new.

In order to understand how their experience was like, you need to take time to look at how you personally reacted to something which you had never been exposed to before...something which was somehow inconceivable. When you do such this will enable you to see things through the same lens as the person in that situation. This is how you "step into someone's shoes."

First ATM

In October 2014 I heard something on the news headlines which inspired me to write this initial post on my blog. Somalia had recently installed its first ATM.

One might wonder why this would be newsworthy, but in line with the example I gave above...one needs to step into their shoes in order to see the significance of such a development. ATMs are so ubiquitous (all around us) that we no longer see anything which can make us go 'wow!' This is however a significant milestone for them as such infrastructure has never been part of their landscape- due to the ensuing conflict in this country.

Step on- step in

In life we always need to be able to 'step into other people's shoes' in order for us to understand what they are going through. This is what is referred as empathy. Being able to possess this quality of stepping into other people's shoes is what will enable your interactions with those in your environment worthwhile. Things which you might have easily dismissed as unimportant or insignificant will take on a different form when you step into their shoes.

All around us there are people requiring for us to step into their shoes in order to 'get them'. Currently there are cases of foreign nationals running away from the communities in which they were doing business. Stepping into their shoes will enable you to see what they are going through and to feel for them. More than just feeling- it will stir you up to do something about the attacks they are currently subjected to.

Recent forest fires in the Cape Peninsula have seen some individuals losing their properties. Stepping into their shoes will make you ask, "if i was in that situation how would I want people to assist me?" Once you answer that question, the answer(s) will help form a base for you to plan a program of action.

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