Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
Before I judge my neighbor, let me walk a mile in his moccasins.~~Native American proverbTo Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus explains to Scout that "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"~~Lee Harper
Yesterday something happened that made a friend of mine sad. The rest of us talked to her, trying to cheer her up. But it wasn't until each of us shared our very similar experiences that she really felt like we knew what she was feeling.
It's not enough to say that you know. I think those are the times that you must demonstrate that kinship by sharing your experience. If you don't have that experience, then don't use that expression because the brutal truth is--you don't know. It would be better to say, "I feel bad for you."
I learned this lesson when my children were teens and I was forced to admit that I needed some help with parenting. The kind of help where the kid has twenty-four hour supervision outside of my home. I have to tell you--no one else knows how that feels unless they've been there. No one. When things were better, when I was on a more even keel, I chose to share my experience with other grieving parents in the same circumstances. Because the truth shines through when you truly can say "I know how you feel."
Something happens when you share kinship experiences. I haven't quite figured out what it is. But there is an old expression, "It takes one to know one." I believe this is true--especially in catastrophic, traumatic experiences. There is just something there that creates a bond, something that allows both people to reveal a secret, hurting part of themselves.
Not everyone can accept that gift, of course. Some are too angry. Some are too deeply damaged. But for those who can, the shared kinship can help them heal, help them move to the next step, whether the original experience is a dark traumatic event or simply something that has hurt their feelings.
So, if you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes, consider sharing your experience with them. Both of you may find something positive in the sharing.