Walk a Mile in Another’s Shoes

Live out The Golden Rule in today’s independent, fast-paced world. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Ahhh….it sounds so easy. Treat your family, friends and strangers with respect, compassion, understanding. Always give the benefit of the doubt no matter the situation. I wish I did this well every single day because I have seen over and over again how vital this is.

Whether we realize it or not, everyone is struggling. They are hurting in little or big ways. Some feel like their lives are falling apart and unraveling. Others are losing hope for a job or just a better life. Some are in toxic relationships. Others are dealing with grief and loss. Life is just hard.

On Thursday, I learned of a tragedy, another suicide. A dear friend of mine told me of a death to a close friend of hers – a 25-year old had taken his life only a few days before. Tragedy for another family of a young man gone too soon. My heart was shattered for my friend, and for her personal loss of this young man. This is the fourth death of parents I know to lose a child to suicide.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Sadly, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment, according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report.  According to the National Institute of Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for America’s teenagers.

As parents and friends of young adults, we need to keep looking for ways to do more to prevent this statistic. It is not always easy to know how to come alongside someone who deals with depression or suicidal tendencies. But the one thing we all can do is offer friendship, love, and compassion. 

We can stop what we are doing and walk a mile (or two, or more) in their shoes. See life from their perspective. Understand why they are feeling a certain way. Offer love without judgement. Offer hope and commitment.

Walk a Mile or Two in Their Shoes

This takes practice. Here are two ways that have really helped me learn how to walk in someone else’s shoes – or as Atticus said in To Kill a Mockingbird, ”You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”…

Volunteer

Recently, I volunteered at the Denver Rescue MissionThe Crossing for families and met a 30 something year old dad with 6 kids. His kids joyously came through the food line, but I saw signs of stress on the man’s face, and my heart ached for the burden he must feel trying to care for his children. However, this small act of serving food and meeting some of the families gave me pause to know we are all in this life together, and we must extend compassion and support to each other to make our days brighter. Project Helping takes the guess work out of how and where to volunteer. They have 100’s of opportunities a month and make it so easy to sign up and serve.

Practice Mindfulness

The definition is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Instead of being hurried and impatient, take a deep breath and notice your surroundings. Be grateful and  say a prayer to be a vessel to peace and love to everyone you meet. Make eye contact with others, smile at someone, listen to understand. This practice alone can change the way you see the world and how you connect with your fellow man.

So I say this to you today, please don’t judge another until you walk a mile in their shoes. Take stock of your day, be kind to others and be slow to speak when presented with unforeseen frustrating circumstances. Everyone has challenges in their life, and at the end of the day all we desire is love and understanding. This is the legacy I hope we can strive to communicate to our next generation. Truly, their lives just may depend on it.

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