May 07, 2005

...and what if the shoes are too big?

I have tried hard, atleast in recent times. I have consciously made an effort and I confess, I am not good at it. But, I will still try. If you have not already guessed (really! you haven't?), I am talking about the over-publicized concept of putting yourself in someone else's shoes. I have a bone to pick with established proponents of this theory. This theory has several flaws that I categorize below.

  • What if the shoes just don't fit?

    We are all individuals. We are all allowed to have a healthy difference of opinion. The problem appears when we try to think alike. The fact that we think differently - isn't that what makes us individuals? Individual tastes, individual opinions, individual likes and dislikes? Even individual sense of right and wrong? If we try to align these, even with a close friend, aren't we asking for disaster?

  • What if your feet kill you once you are in someone else's shoes?

    Lets assume, I have managed to convincingly hide myself from my feelings and I now perceive the world at large as someone else. In this process, although, I have shut myself in a little cell and promised myself I would not give myself a second glance, I do subconsciously realize that I am suffocating myself. In other words, I have managed to fit into someone else's shoes and the person getting hurt in this process is me more than anyone else.

  • What if you shouldn't be trying to fit into someone else's shoes to begin with?

    Sometimes, it's just not worth the effort. Maybe the someone whose shoes you are trying to step into, does not care about anything else but the perspective as he stands, in his own shoes. Maybe, we just need not make ourselves go through the rigmarole of preparing ourselves to step out of our cosy shoes and step into their shoes!

Jokes aside, I understand empathy, more than I want to :). It's just that sometimes, the whole consequence of thinking in someone else's shoes weighs so heavily on me, I wonder why I am doing it.


dinesh said...

"What if the shoes don't fit" ?

The shoes are not expected to fit. And yes, there should be healthy differences of opinion. It's healthy only when you understand them. The problem arises when we make decisions or accusations not understanding what the other person is going through or coming from!

"What if your feet kill you once you are in someone else's shoes?"

By putting yourself in another person's shoes, we are only expected to understand the difficulties/emotions that the other is going through and thereby some of his/her actions originally perceived as erratic, can be understood a little better. Afterall we are only trying on somebody else's shoes ! We don't wear them for life !

Yes, sometimes it's not worth the effort. My point is that it comes easily to others and to some others, not so easily ! And, to me, it works on all walks of life. This is like a formula that I apply to even simple things in life and I like the approach. But sometimes, I have been found wanting in some aspects as well !

sb said...

Yet another good one.
Some times you come across people who never gets off with their shoes. They are really not worth your time!!!
Dinesh, please!!! nee vandhu kalyanathukku pora case. oru 100 jodi seruppukku munnadi nindhundu edha pottukkalamnu yosikkara aalu. I mean, I have always felt that you try to empathize with everybody.

RS said...

To Dinu: I guess I was trying to emphasize on this rather than the first part but understand what you are saying:

I understand empathy, more than I want to :). It's just that sometimes, the whole consequence of thinking in someone else's shoes weighs so heavily on me, I wonder why I am doing it.

To Sujan: Thanks :)

Zeppelin said...


very nice one...

some people are very good when it comes to putting themselves in other peoples' shoes..even after they realize that they will be looked upon as fools...

ironically, when it comes to wearing their own, finally, they are totally thrown off track... in the sense they have worn so many others' shoes that they dont know their own...

hope am making sense here... :)

RTD2 said...

Empathy is being able and willing to step into others' shoes, but having the sense to step out and see things from your perspective ultimately. It's interest and care, not 'alignment' and conformity. It's okay to feel frustrated about it sometimes, it means you're doing a good job!

RS said...

To phil: complete sense.

To rtd2: Good point...I hope I am doing a good job...

On a lighter vein, was talking to S today and she had an interesting perspective too, just get rid of all the shoes and walk barefooted :))

dinesh said...


Summed it up so well ! That's my girl ! :)

a no nymous said...


Well thought and well said.
There is wisdom in what you said... and insight. Dont loose either :)

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