Friday, April 23, 2021

Freaky Friday- Walk a Mile in My Shoes


“Your job is not to judge.  Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something.  Your job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting.” – Joel Osteen


Many of you may have watched the movie Freaky Friday.  It’s the scary tale of a mother and her teenage daughter who are very different from one another and they end up switching bodies for a day.  That would be freaky!  Although, I wouldn’t mind having the body of a teenager for a day with their perky… attitudes.   I digress. 

The movie has several lessons; one being the importance of appreciating our mothers and understanding the load they are carrying.  Speaking of which, don’t forget Mother’s Day is right around the corner.  Tell your Mommy you love her! 

The other equally important lesson is; you should never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.   This seems like an easy concept and yet we make judgements and perceptions within seconds of meeting people.  In fact, according to research, it might take only a tenth of a second for someone to judge your trustworthiness and other important attributes.  Holy Guacamole!  Doesn’t seem quite fair does it?   What if I’m having a bad day?  Or worse, what if I’m having a bad hair day? 

The truth of the matter is, people will make assumptions about you.  It could be based on your appearance, the color of your skin, the gender you identify with or some other purely superficial reason that doesn’t reflect the full picture of who you are.   It’s an unfortunate truth.   We can’t control what other people think.  But we can learn from this fact and work on making “a great first impression,” right?
That includes how we present ourselves.  Ask yourself, am I dressing professionally and ensuring I am tidy and have good hygiene?  Am I walking with confidence, making eye contact, and am I actively listening and asking questions that show I am interested and care? 

But, the mother of all tips (that reference was to remind you that Mother’s Day is on May 9) to make a good first impression is to SMILE!   Studies show that a genuine smile boosts your confidence, makes you more approachable, increases your trustworthiness, and makes people feel good.   It’s just like the old saying goes, “You’d never hit a guy whose smiling, would you?”  Or, was it a guy with glasses you wouldn’t hit?  Well, you get the drift.

Perhaps you can do everything right-- and still be judged unfairly.  That is a possibility and you can only put out your very best effort and feel pride in how you presented yourself.  But, what you DO have control over is how YOU judge others. 

We don’t have the ability to change bodies with someone else like the mother and daughter did in Freaky Friday.  Trust me, you do not want to change bodies with this ole large-footed Amazonian with bad knees and tennis elbow!   But, we can practice empathy.  The definition of empathy is just doing that— it’s the ability to understand and see things from another’s perspective by imagining yourself in their place.   In the movie Freaky Friday, the mother was able to see her daughter in a different light after changing bodies with her.  She was able to experience all the insecurities of being young again and the pressures of school and trying to discover yourself.  Whereas the daughter was able to experience the stress of her mother’s career and all of the different roles she has to play as a mother, wife and working woman. 

So, how can we take the lesson of empathy and put it to work?  The following are a few tips:

1.       Listen- Be an active listener.  Repeat what you heard them say to ensure you have their correct message.

2.       Be open to new ideas, perspective and ways of doing things-  Creativity, invention and growth comes out of sharing and being open to new ways of doing things.

3.       Be patient- Slow your role and try to understand people learn and digest information differently.  They may need more time or need to see facts visually before giving input or making decisions.

4.       Don’t make assumptions.  It’s easy to just make swift assumptions about someone based on a one-time experience.  Give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove themselves or explain a situation.

5.       Show genuine care and compassion- Care enough to know, know enough to care.  If you don’t ask, you will never know.   Realize you do not know what another person in going through or how their circumstances, tragedies or experiences have shaped them.

6.       We are all human beings- We all fall short.  We are all broken.  Practice grace and forgiveness. 

By imagining what it may be like to walk in the shoes of another will get us one step closer to civility, respect, equality and inclusion. 

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