Walk a mile in their shoes, or just stop my own judgement

Lule happily licking out the ice cream carton

Luke happily pouncing on an almost empty ice cream carton

The other day, as I was walking into a shop in Saratoga Springs, a woman stopped me. We’d met about 5 years ago at a fund-raiser, and didn’t even know each other’s first names, but that day, she felt compelled to tell me a story and I’ve been thinking about it, and its powerful lesson, ever since.

Several years ago, her granddaughter (who was in college at the time) died suddenly in an accident. This woman (now well into her 80’s) didn’t really want to talk about her granddaughter, she was making another point, and although I was filled with emotion at her telling of the accident, she almost brushed me off saying, “It was a tragedy, but you know what was so strange…?”

She proceeded to tell me that a woman, whom she had known for over 20 years, and had a very unfriendly relationship with, became a totally different person towards her when she found out that her granddaughter had died. She said, “She went from being a real bitch to me, to suddenly wanting to give me a hug every time we ran into each other.” Then she shook her head and said, “It took death for her to be nice to me.” and with that she walked away, and I was left standing with my mouth (and heart) wide open.

So many times, when we don’t really care for someone, we think we have no choice. I’ve even said things like, “They just turn me off”, thinking that it is something in that person that is unappealing.  What I have come to know is that it’s always the way that I am looking at them or thinking about them that “turns me off”….it is always a jugdgement (many times a moral one) that is making me think less of whoever it is that I find unappealing.

I admit that it is easier to be kind and understanding when we find out that someone has suffered a great deal but that is only because we now are subtly judging them worthy of our understanding and compassion. We always have a choice not to judge. We always have the option to refuse to let our minds tell a negative story about someone, even when we have no idea of what their lives have been like.

When I “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” I always end up feeling more compassion and love for them. But I can also take the short cut and just stop my judgements, and when I do, I now am meeting them at a higher level of being within myself; a place where no one is judged as “worthy” or “unworthy”…a place where everyone is worthy, infinitely worthy, of Love.

The world cannot change until you change your conception of it. ‘As within so without.’ Nations as well as people are only what you believe them to be. No matter what the problem is, no matter where it is, no matter whom it concerns, you have no one to change but yourself…” Neville Goddard from, Feeling is the Secret, pubished in 1966

10 thoughts on “Walk a mile in their shoes, or just stop my own judgement

  1. Beautiful message this morning Mary, thank you. I think judgement towards anything…especially towards oneself…can be misleading and ultimately destructive if we are not watchful. I love Neville Goddard’s quote about changing the world by changing ourselves.

  2. Love this post and lesson, Mary ….I have a Ghandi quote in my LIVING room, that says” be the change you wish to see in the world” I will lovingly try to keep myself in check today!

  3. What a powerful experience you’ve had, Mary in that one conversation with this eighty year old woman. An age where truth and reality meet. For a number of years in my goal of becoming non-judgmental towards others, I have been wrestling with something and I’ll place your quote here: “We always have a choice not to judge. We always have the option to refuse to let our minds tell a negative story about someone” and I would ask: when my boundaries have been impacted and encroached upon in a deep personal sense and I can no longer accept that behaviour towards me from another, where does compassion, understanding and choice enter into this. I’d be interested in hearing others thoughts on this.
    SandyP in Canada

    • There must be something wrong with me. The older I get, the less willing I am to “suffer fools gladly.” I feel as though age has conferred on me the blessing of clear sight into people. Instead of always trying to make things nice, as I have done most of my life, I now feel a certain sense of freedom in stating how I’m feeling about a situation, or the way a given person might be acting out, and then I just speak my truth and walk away. Oddly enough, instead of this casting a negative pall, I find that people consider me the “go to” person to get my gut reactions about a person or occurrence, because they feel I tell it like it is.

      Perhaps I am too involved with the every-day appearance of life, and not involved enough with the spiritual view. I know we all have our burdens and we all have a story. I’m just tired, at this stage, of watching people get away with things when what they’re doing is so clearly not right.

      My modus operandi in my current world is ‘know when to hold, know when to fold.’ Thin line between the two, but my own developing sense of self helps call the shots, when I listen to it.

  4. SandyP, I am sure there are situations when one simply cannot nor should continue a relationship that is unhealthy, either physically, emotionally or mentally. However, even then, we always have the choice to bless that person – not necessarily have anything more to do with them, but release that person and all the pain we have felt to the Universe, or God, Higher Power, – whatever you choose to call that which can intervene and work wonders once we have made this our intention. We never know. But you have chosen to bless and move on. I read this lovely thought today in the Daily Om.

    Don’t worry about what’s possible or impossible.

    In the silence of allowing is where miracles come into being.

    They’ve been there all along…
    Don’t you know you’re one of them?
    I love this idea, in the “silence of allowing” –
    Who knows what’s in store?
    Blessings to all!

    • I’ve often wrestled with being a consistantly ‘nice’ person……and like Suzanne, I reached the point in my life, in the past few years in my early seventies, where being understanding and compassionate (with two female children whom I’ve raised, one my own; one a stepchild), I have walked away now from both, one my choice, one not . It has not been without a great deal of emotional pain. However the relief felt over time has told me that this was long overdue and the right thing to do, for myself. I just plain ‘wore me out’ walking in someone else’s shoes and lost myself in the process. It may be taking out of context the initial post or it may just be another way of looking at it. Or it may be taking charge of one’s own self with greater respect for one’s own self. It’s a fine line.

  5. Also known as Grace. Grace, in that you are seeing them as God would see them. Grace, in the knowing that everyone’s struggles are unique to them. And that you can look beyond their poor choices, bad behavior, or whatever is distancing them from you and seeing them as God sees them. This does not mean that you have to like them, like their behavior, or like the situation, but that you truly see them.

  6. your words today made me think of a quote by Anais Nin: We do not see the world as it is.. . .we see it as we are.” thanks for your daily light and love, Veronica

  7. Luke looks so adorable there! Another great blog Mary. You make a huge point about our not be able to change anyone but ourselves. It took me a long time to realize that

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