I am currently writing a novel where one of the main characters wakes up in another person’s body. The old saying, “walking in someone else’s shoes,” literally becomes real for her.
At one point, she expresses some of her feelings about her predicament by writing a blog. After I wrote the chapter, I decided to actually share this fictional blog as included in the book. This excerpt may likely be altered a bit during editing, but for now, I share it with you as initially written.
There are stark reminders about the ease of making assumptions about other people.
Waking Up A Stranger
What would you do if you literally awoke in someone else’s body? Someone who lives a vastly different life than your own.
Perhaps one who has habits and addictions you do not possess, like cigarettes or alcohol or drugs. A person who battles depression or finds themselves on the street with no home at all and others gawking at you like you were scum. If you were forced to beg for money or rummage through dumpsters to eat your next meal. Maybe you have a job, but no one talks to you except to bark out orders or reprimand you for doing something wrong.
It’s simple to assume we know the reasons why people are in their particular situations. The problem is assumptions are hugely lazy and way too convenient. Making fun or ridiculing someone by a snide comment or disapproving facial expression is so easy.
Who am I to judge?
Unless we ask with the intention of honestly listening for understanding, we simply do not know because we are not walking in their shoes.
Many people put on a positive face because that’s what society tells us we should do. Who wants to be ridiculed or embarrassed or humiliated? Even if not apparent on the exterior, everyone has internal strife and struggles they must deal with.
The question to ask ourselves is what small thing can I do to help the person in front of me now?
The connection to another individual goes beyond riches, so it is not always a handout of money, although it may be. A simple smile, gracious hello, look in the eye, handshake offer, word of encouragement, or a question asked can make all the difference.
Nobody knows what it’s like to be in another’s body, otherwise everyone would be overflowing with empathy and compassion.
When you find yourself about to make an assumption about someone, stop. Admit that you don’t truly understand. If you can, ask or at least acknowledge them as a living, breathing human being who’s experiencing an existence that might be harder than you could ever imagine.
We may not be able to provide them a solution to their struggle, but we can validate their humanity.
How will you treat that someone today?
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