In other words, it is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
So often we are quick to judge someone else. They do something, and we immediately jump to conclusions about that person, or we get defensive, or we criticize, get angry, laugh at them, or blow them off. We dismiss the idea that anything else is going on in their world besides that one moment of action. We do not know what is going on in someone else’s life. We do not know what has happened to them that day, that week, that month, or even that year. Humans have emotions, and those emotions can make us act in ways that are not always the best.
A week or two ago a lady was turning into a parking lot. She had to cross two lanes of traffic to do so. I was driving straight in the lane closest to the parking lot and she came shooting over and almost hit my car. I had to swerve into the parking lot and do a u-turn to avoid being hit. Now, I could call the girl a crazy broad, be angry that she almost hit me, yell at her, complain to all of my friends about this b*tch that needs to learn to drive. I didn’t do any of that. I could see the lady was scared, she was obviously upset. First of all, an accident is called an ACCIDENT because it is not done on purpose. I highly doubt she was planning to try to hit my car. Any number of reasons could have been behind her doing what she did. There are millions of possibilities as to why she was in a hurry. She could have been needing to get to the grocery store to get medicine for a sick person, she could have just been dumped by a boyfriend, had a family member or friend die, or any other of a million reasons. It is not my place to assume the worst of her. There was no harm done, and I simply waved saying it was okay, I forgave her and moved on with my day.
I have a friend who can appear not to care when something upsets you. He will laugh and joke about the situation and tease you, tell you to “grow a pair and get over it.” I could easily say that he is a jerk and doesn’t care about my feelings. Or, I could be a little more empathetic. Maybe that is his way of dealing with things? Maybe it is easier to joke about everything because he doesn’t know how to talk to someone in a crisis, or doesn’t understand how you feel. This same person would give you the shirt off his back if it was needed, stand up for you in a fight, protect you physically. We all have ways of expressing our feelings, and sometimes we just have to look at the whole picture instead of just a corner of it.
The ability to be empathetic and to see things from someone else’s point of view is an amazing trait. If it is used I think we can be so much happier and more positive.