220: Walking in someone’s shoes… helps or hurts?

Last week, I wrote about a situation where I disagreed with someone dear to me. I talked about why I should have taken the time to walk in her shoes – and how I wished she would have walked in my shoes. I related this to the phrase,”Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” This was post #218 if you have a desire to go back and read it.

Today, I was talking with this same friend, and as I was leaving I mentioned the idea about walking in each other’s shoes.

She commented, “That’s my problem, I am so busy trying to help others by walking in their shoes. I don’t walk in my OWN shoes enough.” Then she continued, “Do you think that’s because I don’t want to deal with things in my own life? It’s easier to walk in their shoes than my own?”

My immediate thought… “What is she TELLing me?” Does she really think she was walking in my shoes the other day?

It sure didn’t feel like it… Instead of judging and responding, I decided to be still and ponder.

Besides, as I mentioned, I was walking out the door at the time. Now, I can’t help but think deeper about this as I write this blog.

Through the years of studying interactions, I have noticed the pattern of trying to help others progress or helping others move toward success. “I’ll do whatever I can think is possible to help them create a better life. I’ve tried this…. I’ve tried that…. I’ll do whatever I can just for them…”

Does whatever you’re doing help? How does the person respond? What message are you really TELLing this person?

One the one hand, it’s admirable to have a desire to help others be better; I believe we all should have that desire! Yet, is this really what they are doing? Are they really helping the other person? I decided to go back to the quote.

The saying “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” does not mean you take your shoes off and you control the steps ahead. When you do that, you are walking in their shoes, but not really. You’ve just borrowed the shoes for a moment.

For example, I love to borrow shoes from mom when I visit her. She has many; I have few. She buys cool shoes, I buy practical ones. But, she wears a 6 1/2 shoe, I wear a 7. Because of our size difference, some of the sandals fit, but not all; certainly none of the closed-toe shoes fit comfortably. In other words, some shoes I can walk in, others no way! They hurt!

If the size and style fits in the moment, the walk may be okay, but if it is not a good fit, the walk is painful!

If the message you are sharing fits the other person, they may agree and the walk together may be okay. They may even appreciate your advice. But if your ideas do not fit with theirs, or they are not willing to listen, the result is pain.  It may still feel like you are helping, but to the other person it feels like judgment because you are not really walking in their shoes – you borrowed their shoes for the moment.

Walking a mile in their shoes really means walking the journey together. You are walking with them in their shoes, not for them. It means letting them be a part of the steps ahead, not you taking over and controlling their steps. You allow others to evaluate what is acceptable and unacceptable. You allow the person walking beside you to have a thought in the next step.

“Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” has a deeper meaning than the majority of people ever consider.

Today, think about how you walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Do you borrow their shoes and still do the walking by yourself, or do you walk with them in their shoes? Do you walk and listen to them; do you allow them to share thoughts and feelings on the walk? Does your walk and talk teach, encourage, and love others to decide which step is needed to move forward? It’s not until we walk with them, in their shoes, that we begin to better understand and help one another.

My friend’s full statement today was “That’s my problem, I am so busy trying to help others by walking in their shoes. I don’t walk in my shoes enough.” Then she continued, “Do you think that’s because I don’t want to deal with things in my own life? It’s easier to walk in their shoes than my own?”

Her latter comment I am still contemplating – and need to talk further with her about this — maybe you’ll be reading about that in another blog! In the mean time… #TELLforGood.


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219: It is worth arguing over?

I’ve been focused on disagreements lately … We all have these interactions every day if you think about it. The question is more about how we interact when we disagree with someone. In that moment, we TELL for better, or worse. The goal is #TELLforGood. That is, teach, encourage, listen, and love for good – not to hurt relationships and situations.

I was running the other day, and I heard two people screaming at each other, using one foul word after another. My first thought was a public domestic dispute, but the closer I got to the scene I witnessed a man and woman yelling about how awful of a driver the other one was, “Who in their right mind would ever give you a driver’s license!” followed by a series of angry profanity.

It amazes me how complete strangers can get into such heated discussions. People who have never met. People who have no clue what the other person is going through that moment, or earlier that day, or ever; and yet, they judge each other as guilty and unacceptable. The whole exchange is about proving the guilty and unacceptable verdict.

Apparently, both were driving in the neighborhood – a two-lane road. The woman passed the man thinking he was going to turn right onto a street, but he changed his mind. Simple misunderstanding on her part, I thought. He obviously did not see it that way.

The yelling continued “Where do you live?”; “I’m not letting you know where I live, you’re crazy, who knows what you’ll do to me.”; “Me crazy, you’re the crazy one, you #@%$#!” on and on.

I shook my head and asked why? Why would two complete strangers carry on an argument like this?

Is it because they are truly upset over what just happened? Did they feel threatened, attacked, or devalued by how the other person is driving? Or was one or both of them upset to begin with and were they using this opportunity to unload the built up anger? In other words, were they using the stranger as an emotional punching bag to release tension?

As an outsider, I thought the whole interaction was unnecessary and did not make sense. I wondered how many others were listening to this exchange. I decided to turn around and head the other way, best to avoid this exchange all together. This was none of my business!

As I continued to run, I could not help but think more about the heated and hurtful exchange.  Why do people argue like that – and is it any different when it’s a stranger or someone you are close to? Why do people feel they have permission to be so hurtful to another? Is it habit?

If you’re reading on to get an answer… well, I am not sure! But, I do know this. When you use hurtful words, you hurt the relationship… and yourself. You are TELLing the person one of the following messages:

I expect you to see and do things my way, or I will hurt you with words and/or actions.

It is your fault I cannot control my words and actions; you are the reason I had to use those words and/or actions.

I will do whatever I want regardless of how it affects you.

There may be many other messages being communicated in heated arguments like the one I witnessed that day – as well as the ones I have personally experienced in life. Let’s accept that arguments, even heated arguments, happen in everyone’s life at some point in time. The key is to pay attention and realize the messages you are TELLing about yourself in those moments.

You are teaching a message about who you are in the situation and relationship. You are also encouraging, listening, and loving a message – for better or worse. Become mindful of the messages you are giving to others, and maybe one day we all will become better at sharing our thoughts and feelings, even when we are hurting. Or at least, we may be less hurtful to one another.

From this day forward, let’s work on refusing to engage in hurtful interactions. Let’s refuse to interact with cursing and quick-tempered words which lead to rebellion and destruction. Think before speaking, seek to TELL for good. #TELLforGood



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218: Walk a mile in their shoes to TELL better

Have you heard the saying, “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”?

That phrase hit home for me the other day when I got into a disagreement with someone very dear to me. Neither one of us took a step in the other’s shoes. Instead, we walked and stomped our own shoes!

On the one hand, I felt I should know and do better. On the other hand, this became an opportunity to know more and do better in the future. When there is a disagreement, the messages we teach, encourage, listen and love matter a great deal. The words we speak really do matter. We TELL to make the situation better, or worse.

When we experience a disagreement with someone, it is critical to take our own shoes off and walk in their shoes – at least a few steps. Walk with them and listen to their reasoning. Become curious about the steps they are taking. Why is that? What do you mean? Do you think…? How can I help?

Too often, we are quick to judge and react accordingly.  We judge acceptable or unacceptable – and then we speak with the verdict in mind. We speak using only our own point of view.

How different would it be if we stopped and wondered where are they coming from? What is his or her story? What facts are being used to support the words being spoken and felt? I needed to walk a few steps in her shoes instead of solely walking and stomping my own shoes….

If only I would have thought about this when I was in that disagreement the other day. Maybe the exchange would not have focused on judging one another and defending ourselves. Maybe we would have been able to TELL each other better.

The way I see it now is I did not walk in her shoes, nor did she walk in mine. The heated exchange did not teach, encourage, listen, and love a positive message in the moment. I realize now I need to go back and do better. Relationships grow stronger when we TELL beneficial messages to one another over the long run.

The truth is, we never fully understand another person’s point of view; however, we can aim to understand better by walking in their shoes. Today, become more curious. Take your shoes off and walk some steps in someone’s shoes…  #TELLforGood



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217: Self-help: a myth or reality?

I read this morning that the self-help movement has become an $11 billion industry. There are more than 45,000 self-help books in print!

Each book makes a promise toward a new and improved version of yourself. All you need to do is follow the simple steps provided. Through the years I have bought these fix-it guides. However, despite reading and following many of the words written, I still need help! Aren’t we always trying to improve an area of our life? Seek to becoming better?

Long ago, I also heard less than 20 percent of the people who purchase a self-help book or program actually begin the fix-it guide, even fewer complete the guide! As I look on my bookshelf, I see evidence of that in my life. I actually see two copies of the same book for a topic I’d love to fix! I’ve read two of the nine chapters. What good does that TELL me?

The explanation to why we buy the program or book and never open it is we already feel a sense of improvement by just purchasing the book or program. Similarly, as soon as we get over the hump – or made to feel better by the introduction – we stop. We are in one sense already improved.

Make sense? Common sense? Self-help?

The truth is these books do offer insight on a topic; however, because most people are searching to improve themselves, the real answer lies in the interactions you have with yourself and others. Your self improves when you have helpful interactions! When you intentionally and consistently seek wisdom, someone or something greater than you in the moment.

Wisdom is gained by principle. The resource, program, or strategy you investigate and implement as a means to improve the quality of your life is limited by how seriously and intentionally you interact. That is why these ideas work for some, possibly many. It is because you interact in such a way you receive good insight. The interactions teach and encourage you to think and act in certain ways; when you listen and love the ideas being presented, you interact in such a way that you are nurtured mentally and emotionally to improve.

There is not a set program that will work for everyone because there are fundamental principles for each program or strategy that must be part of the decision-making process and implementation. When people ignore these principles, the programs and strategies are a fix-it guide.

Every program or strategy has a set of principles to describe the context for success. The person implementing the program or strategy should be aware of the principles. They must also agree with the principles, or in the end the program or strategy will be just another fad, or a book on the shelf.

Principles provide the foundation for why and how something works. Principles are much like natural laws, for example gravity. Whether you know of the principle, understand it or even agree with it doesn’t matter – the principle, like a natural law, always applies. Principles are timeless and self-evident, and they apply any time and everywhere.

You TELL whenever you interact is an idea based on principles of communication. Every word you speak, every action you do, TELLs about you. You let others know your thoughts and feelings about the situation and about the relationship between you and others involved. You teach your thoughts, you encourage what should happen next, at some level you listen, and to some degree you love. #TELLforGood


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216: Get knocked down, get up again, and TELL

After 10 years of studying TELLing interactions, and even more years of studying interactions in general, I have learned the power in knowing your intentions. Knowing why and how your words and actions impact the relationships and circumstances in your life can transform your life.

I’ve learned the power of looking within and becoming more aware of the thoughts and emotions I communicate in my interactions. When life is ‘not good enough’, I pause and think why, how, and what must I be taught, encouraged to think and do, where should I listen and love right now?

When there’s an interaction with someone that doesn’t go as well as I had hoped, I similarly pause and wonder why, how, and what to TELL. This gives me insight to better understanding the interactions – and myself! Learning to pause and TELL myself and others better is consistent with a positive growth mindset. When you TELL, you do not allow yourself to hold on to a negative and limited point of view.  There is power in having TELLing  interactions when you are living a high-quality life.

There are books available that explain what to say and do in certain situations. These are helpful; I’ve read some of them! Without going into much detail here about what I have learned by reading such books, I will end this post by stating, it’s much simpler when you become aware of the messages you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love to yourself and others. When the situation arises that you feel ‘not good enough’ – go within and TELL yourself better. Don’t stay stuck playing a guessing game. Keep TELLing again, and again. I’ve learned that’s how you improve and grow stronger and better…for yourself and others!

Have a blessed day; keep TELLing! #TELLforGood

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215: Children need someone to T.E.L.L. them

During every interaction you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love according to your own thoughts and feelings. Others may influence your words and actions, but ultimately as an adult you decide your words and actions for better or worse. You choose how you think and respond in the moment or in a future moment.

With children, the story is a little different. A child definitely interacts with honest thoughts and feelings; however, they need others to TELL them better throughout childhood so they can ultimately decide on their own.

Help Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love the youth to think and choose wiser. Help TELL the youth to think and choose wiser.

Children need someone to TELL them…. well, don’t we all!

Have a blessed day by being more TELLing!

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