Steppin in someone else's shoes

 

 

People often use phrases such as, “You can’t understand until you have walked a mile in their shoes” and “Before you judge, step into her shoes.” These sayings were likely derived from the phrase “step into someone’s shoes,” which means to take on a particular role that someone else has been doing.

 

In this case, it means to live the other person’s life or to connect with them in a way that you truly understand what has been going on in their life. The idea is to be empathetic to the person. This is never as easy as one might make it out to be because no two people’s experience is the same.

 

Differences

 

Two people that have lost a partner may react differently to that loss. One person may have died suddenly, while another died after years of illness. These two situations are very different. The partner will grieve in both cases, but in the case of the person who dies after a long illness, much of the grieving may have occurred before the actual death.

 

Even two people that are going through very similar losses will grieve differently. One person may grieve over a couple of months while another one may grieve for a year. Additionally, people’s grieving may take different forms. One person may need to surround themselves with friends and family. They may talk a lot about the person that has passed. The other person may grieve very privately needing space and alone time.

 

Empathy

 

Thus, when we put ourselves in their shoes, it is not good enough to have general empathy for the person. It is important to take it a step further. We must listen and try to understand what that person specifically is going through. Additionally, we must be extremely careful not to put our experiences or beliefs on others.

 

For example, if a person has had a loss and grieved deeply and inwardly for months, they shouldn’t believe that they are showing empathy for someone else if they encourage them to be alone and out of the social network. If they do and the other person is the type of person that needs to be out with friends to heal, they are not showing empathy at all despite their good intentions.

 

Truly In The Person’s Shoes

 

This example can be extrapolated to infinite scenarios. It is important to allow people to speak for themselves and express what they are going through. Then, people can support them in their situation. People should not, however, assume they understand what any specific individual or group is going through.

 

 

This is why it is important to give individuals and groups a voice rather than speaking for them. Even when people try to advocate for others with the absolute best of intentions, they are bound to get it wrong. They are advocating a story that they have created rather than the real story. Sometimes those stories overlap considerably; sometimes they don’t.

 

It is only by listening to others and their personal journey that we can have true empathy for them. Attempts at empathy are better than none, but does not stand up to true empathy, which is gained only by connecting to the person and their story.

 

Social Media

 

 

Social media usage has risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2018, Pew Research stated that 68% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook. * A lower percentage of adult Americans use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat than Facebook. However, none of the platforms dips below 20% and the total numbers are quite significant although even considering overlap of usage between apps.

 

The reason for the rise in social media usage is a combination of general industry growth, desire to connect, business demands, and a desire for attention. The industry has grown as new platforms evolved – each with its own focus and its own attraction to various age groups and types of businesses.

 

Desire To Connect

 

The initial boom in social media – and what keeps it going – is the desire for people to connect. Although you can know what is happening around the world almost instantaneously, people are not as connected to those around them as they were 100 or even 50 years ago. Thus, people turn to social media to (re-)connect with their family and friends that are often spread around the world.

 

People also join groups of like-minded people to discuss issues that are relevant to them, such as, parenting, hiking, or genealogy. Thus, people connect with new people and often receive support for the challenges that they are facing in life.

 

Business

 

As these platforms have grown, businesses have turned to them as a way to connect to their clients. They utilize these platforms for advertising, event announcements, and client engagement. They have replaced some of the traditional marketing methods and are especially important in the coveted 18-49 market, as they are the highest users of social media. It has also allowed businesses to expand their client base in new ways.

 

Desire For Attention

 

For some people, however, the use of social media isn’t really to connect with anyone. It is simply to draw attention to themselves. They use it to dramatize their life or a life that they choose to portray. Often, they play on people’s emotions, gaining attention from people they don’t even know. One must assume that they are starved for attention in real life. Thus, they create a more exciting or dramatic life online by making sure that people notice them. As a result, they gain the attention that they desire.

 

Cause Disruption

 

Some of these attention seekers take it a step further. They purposefully attempt to anger people and create arguments. These trolls never provide real facts and are quick to make highly judgmental statements. If those don’t create enough rage, they will turn to name calling and personal attacks. These trolls gain attention for themselves, but the joy they get is in seeing other people angry. Nothing makes them go away quicker than a calm, logical response where you completely ignore their inflammatory statements.

 

As you can see, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects of social media. It is important to prop up the good. The rest is something that we all have to work together to overcome. Thus, the next time you see an inflammatory statement or post consider what is going to create a positive outcome. If we could make everything on social media positive for even one day, it could change the world!

 

 

*https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

 

who is judging whom

 

In our previous article “Behind the Façade,” we discussed how people often hide their authentic self. This article will further investigate those who changed their façade based on their judgment of other people’s judgment of themselves.

 

When people become focused on how they believe others are judging them, they give away their personal power. Often the other person doesn’t even know that they have been given this power because they aren’t actually judging the person and may not have even noticed them.

 

Questions

 

When someone tells me that someone else is judging them, I typically ask a few questions. My first response generally is, “Why do you care?” In some cases, the answer to this question is obvious. However, in the case of a stranger or acquaintance who is not closely connected to the person, the answer is less clear.

 

Another question I ask is, “What made you jump to the conclusion that they are judging you?” The answer to this question is rarely satisfactory to me. It is something they perceive, but is often not tangible.

 

Who Is Doing The Judging?

 

In reality, if the other person has not directly stated a judgment, these people are judging the other person. However, I don’t believe most are aware of their own judgment.   It is in some ways a self-judgment and in other ways a judgment of the other person. It is possible that they believe they should look or act a certain way, but instead of owning it, they project it onto someone else. Alternately, they are judging the other person as someone who believes others should look and act a certain way.

 

For these people that see themselves through the eyes of others, I have to wonder how their life would change if they stopped projecting their judgment onto others.  It would clearly change. We must stay somewhat within cultural norms. Yet, at some point we need to be our true selves and not define our value on how we believe others perceive us.

 

So, when you start to believe that others are judging you then question yourself, “Are they really judging me, or am I judging them?”

 

behind the facade

 

 

As a child, my mother insisted that we keep the drapes closed at all times. I assume she was worried about protecting the family since she was a single working mother. My dad had died just after my sixth birthday. Therefore, I don’t really remember if she had a similar concern when he was alive.

 

All I know is that she never wanted anyone to see into the house. This became readily apparent one beautiful day when I dared to open the living room drapes. I was severely reprimanded as soon as my mom arrived home.

 

Of course, she also never wanted to be seen by anyone when she wasn’t looking her best. I assumed it was partially because she wanted to be attractive to men. Thus, she was always looking her best when she went anywhere.

 

Others Are Judging

 

Later, I realized that these behaviors were tied, in part, to her belief that she knew how others were judging her. Thus, she felt compelled to show people what she thought they wanted to see so that they would think highly of her. She was concerned with what others thought of her and made sure to show them what she believed they wanted to see. When she wasn’t prepared to show that image, she wanted to remain hidden.

 

I believe everyone does this to some extent.  Most of us put on our best business look for job interviews, are just a bit sweeter than normal when talking to a new love interest, and act a bit different at church than at home. However, there are those that rarely show their authentic self. Instead, they hide behind a façade of what they think people want to see. Those are the ones that are perpetually disconnected.

 

Some of those people end up feeling as if they have lost their identity. They may go through life without ever acknowledging their own value. These types of people constantly put others first and are often everyone’s go to person when they need something. Yet, these people often do not feel valued.

 

Hiding The True Self

 

Other people hide behind the façade as an escape from reality. For instance, a woman may not feel beautiful, thus, she will over-beautify herself. Similarly, a man may feel that he isn’t as good a provider as he believes he should be. In that situation, he may exaggerate his job responsibilities and income.

 

Others have, for one reason or another, come to believe that others’ views of them is critically important to their success and worth to society. These people often create judgments of themselves and attribute them to others. If they actually bothered to have a conversation and learn about other people’s perspectives, they might learn that the people that they are trying so hard to impress, don’t actually have the judgments that they believe they do.

 

Being Authentic

 

A person needs to show their authentic self in order to connect. Hiding behind facades prevents true connections.

 

In our next article “To Judge and Be Judged,” we will discuss the phenomena of people that judge they are being judged.

 

the search

 

 

In the previous article “Family Connections,” I discussed some of the reactions when people learn that one or both of the parents that raised them are not their biological parent. In this article, I explore the connections and feelings that often arise during the search for a person’s birth parents.

 

Now, rare cases exist where the person takes a DNA test and immediately finds their birth family, everyone loves each other, and they live happily ever after. However, that isn’t the norm.

 

Expectations

 

A person shouldn’t expect anything other than a rollercoaster ride when looking for a birth parent.  Emotions will go high when the person sees a DNA match. Then, they will fall through the floor when the match does not respond to messages or hides all their information. This process may repeat several times.

 

Likewise, the person searching may contact a DNA match, who puts them in contact with other family members. Just when they start building a strong connection, someone else does a DNA test and it blows a hole in the theory of who the birth parent is. Now, they are left dangling.   They feel connected, but they aren’t connected the way that they think they are. In some cases, they may not be connected at all.

 

News of a mis-connection can be almost as emotional as learning that one or both of your parents are not your biological parents. This is especially true in cases where the new connections were supportive and welcoming, while the parents that raised the person are deceased or the relationship with them is strained.

 

The Process

 

The process can be lengthy and the result is not guaranteed.   It is very easy for people to become too excited, which often scares off DNA matches. It is equally as easy for people to become frustrated, lose interest, and just give up.

 

The best possible approach is a slow, steady approach where the person makes lots of connections. This allows emotions to be more even while allowing the person to build relationships with people that are related, if only distantly. Building connections with these people helps the person learn information that is useful in solving their parentage puzzle. Possibly, more importantly, these connections help the person to feel connected to family.

 

The final article in this series “Found, Now What?” will discuss the ability to connect with birth families and the associated emotions.

 

family connections

 

 

As a genealogist, I have become involved in helping people find their birth parents. It is always an interesting journey and although there are various common scenarios, each journey is unique.

 

The Reactions

 

Some people who have found out that one or both of their parents aren’t who they thought they were express no interest in identifying and meeting their biological parents. These people usually feel a strong connection with the parents that raised them. Often their perspective is that there is no need to find out who their biological parents are given that they will always consider the parents that raised them as mom and dad.

 

Other people report always feeling like they were adopted or never believing that their dad was their biological father. These people are not at all surprised when a DNA test reveals that their intuition was correct. Many of them report feeling disconnected or like something was missing in the relationship.

 

Other people fit somewhere in between these two perspectives. Some are surprised, but embrace the possibility of connecting with more family. These people still view their parents as their parents, but are open to learning more about themselves and their roots. Some people that fall into this category are people who grew up as only children. They are excited at the prospect of finding siblings.

 

Another reaction is to feel lost and/or angry. In these cases, people feel as if they no longer know who they are. For these people, learning that one or both parents who raised them are not their biological parents is devastating. It can take time and professional counseling to get through this very personal crisis.

 

Connected?

 

To me, it appears that some people sense the lack of connection all their lives. But, others want what is comfortable or desire a connection with the parents that raised them so much that they fear knowing about their biological parents. Yet others are comfortable with any and all connections. It is a very personal situation and is unique to that person.

 

If you are going through this, know that although your situation is unique, most likely there is someone out there that has been through something similar. Seek counseling if you are struggling. Also, know that there are groups of people that can help you find your birth parents if you so desire.

 

The next article in this series “The Search,” will dive into expectations when searching for your family.

 

make an offer

 

In our previous article “Garage Sale Connections,” we discussed various kinds of garage sale shoppers. In this article, we will explore our experience having a garage sale where we asked shoppers to make an offer on items.

 

The Rules

 

For our “Make an Offer” sale, people selected the items that they wanted and then made an offer for the items. We reserved the right to counter-offer if the offer was too low. And, we jokingly included in the fine print that people making ridiculously low offers would be fed to the neighbor’s pet alligator.

 

The sale had mixed results. Some people loved that they could make an offer. I believe they ended up buying more because items didn’t have a fixed price. Also, negotiations over the price seemed to serve to create a stronger connection as they often told us about what they were going to do with the items or why they wanted a lower price.

 

There were people, however, that really struggled with the idea of making an offer. Some of them didn’t know how to price the items, but others just couldn’t seem to comprehend the concept.

 

Culturally, Euro-Americans seemed to grasp the concept and be okay with it more than people from other cultures. People from cultures that like to barter seem to be thrown off by this approach, as they didn’t have a starting point. They didn’t know how to go about making a bid for the items. Plus, I sensed a reluctance to make a connection, which is really beneficial in this type of sale.

 

The Most Challenging Issue

 

The most challenging issue was language. When English was not the person’s first language or they spoke little or no English, explaining the concept just wasn’t possible most of the time. In those cases, we resorted to setting a price as that was the only way to make a sale.

 

We also set the price for children as they had no idea what to offer for something. Children always get good deals and generally speaking they are our favorite customers. A big portion of this is that they are the most open to making a connection.

 

Overall, I think we made as many connections or more with people doing the sale in this manner. Monetarily, things averaged out about the same as if we had priced the items. Some offered slightly more than we would have asked while others offered slightly less. There were a few cases where the offer was low enough that we counter offered and we were able to reach a deal in most of those cases.

 

Feed Them To The Alligator

 

We had only one case where we needed to feed a couple to the alligator. Each of them made offers that were just completely ridiculous. The man offered $4 for a nice cased dartboard and a set of very nice unique goblets. The wife offered something equally ridiculous for some other items. I explained the value of the items to them and they played innocent. The man said, “Well, I didn’t know. I just liked them.” Well, you don’t have to know a lot to know that those items are worth more than his offer. These are the type of people that are looking not just for a deal, but really to take advantage of you. They are not people with whom you want to make a connection because that makes you vulnerable to their actions.

 

In contrast to this couple, we had one gentleman carefully picked out some silk flowers. We found it unusual for an older gentleman to be selecting flowers with such care. In our discussion with him after the sale, we learned that he was buying the flowers to place them at the gravesites of his wife and daughter. His story brought tears to our eyes. So, despite selling the flowers for less than we would have liked, we were very pleased with the sale. We were happy to have made the connection for a brief time and happy to know that the flowers were going to honor two people he so obviously loved.

 

Bottom line . . . Connections can be found anywhere – even garage sales!

 

 

 

garage sale connections

 

Garage sales are an interesting time to both observe and connect with people from many different cultures who have many different reasons for being at the garage sale.

 

Some of the people are at the garage sale because they really can’t afford to shop in stores. Our garage sale is usually really good for them as we price household goods and clothing below the price at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Thus, they can shop at our sale and spend less money. We have also been known to give them a very good discount even on these prices if we feel they have no money.

 

Observation

 

It sometimes requires some excellent observation skills to know which people are truly in need and those that are trying to make you believe they are in need just to get a deal. The two have very different energy.

 

Of course, there are people whose culture is about bartering. Realizing this is the case is important because they are always going to try to talk you down from whatever price is given. My favorites are those that insult you or your items if you don’t accept their very low price. They give me a chuckle. Connecting with them enough to know what is happening gains you money and saves hurt feelings.

 

Then, there are those that speak little to no English. We have found that some of them still manage to easily connect with us while others do not. Clearly, fluently speaking the same language is not required in creating a connection. Likewise, speaking the same language and even being quite alike does not guarantee a connection.

 

Best Connections

 

Some of our best connections are with casual garage salers. Some of them are out just to enjoy the day, some are looking for something to do and to have a conversation with people, and others just enjoy seeing items people have for sale. These people have time and often want to have conversations. We sell less to them, but sometime the connection and conversation lead to sales of unexpected items. They are probably the least predictable of all groups.

The most predictable are the professional garage salers. They come, look for the specific items of interest, buy without hesitation, and leave just as fast. These people are generally not open to connecting, but are easy to spot.

 

All in all, garage sales can be an interesting way to observe people. Listening to people, watching how they look at items, and seeing what they skip over tells you a lot about them.

 

In the next article, we will discuss our experience having a “Make an Offer” Sale.

 

 

synchronous thoughts

 

Synchronous Thoughts

 

Have you ever noticed multiple people or companies having the same idea at approximately the same time? A famous example of synchronous thoughts is the development of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray developed a telephone independent of each other.  However, they submitted patent applications for the telephone to the U.S. Patent Office on the same day.

 

The same or similar ideas arriving at the patent office close together is not uncommon. This is why the patent office added a requirement that inventors document when they initially conceive of an idea. Otherwise, it was simply a race to arrive at the patent office first.

 

My Experience

 

Having the same ideas as others is a normal experience for me. I’ve had numerous ideas that popped into my head that became commercial products or were patented by others within a few years. Ring (home security system) is such an example. Several years ago, I had the idea of using web cams, which could alert your cell phone, to monitor your home security. Today, the Ring system has a solution that is very much aligned with my idea.

 

Having seen similar ideas show up at approximately the same time many times, makes me wonder why this occurs. Some of these coincidences can be explained by a market need. In this case, multiple people expand the use of known concepts and technologies to create products and solutions.

 

How Do You Explain That?

 

There are other concepts, however, that seem to pop-up around the world seemingly without an explanation. Pyramids, for example, exist in different parts of the world. They vary in structure, but are overall very similar. Yet, there is no explanation as to how these massive structures were conceived by several independent civilizations that are believed to have had no means to communicate with each other.

 

Clearly there is something more at work here than people sharing ideas or evolving existing ideas into something new. Whatever is the source of this phenomenon, one of the purposes it serves or side effects of it appears to be injecting ideas into society.

 

Bringing Thoughts To Life

 

Once a thought originates somewhere in the Universe, the ideas take on a life of its own wandering through the consciousness until people act upon it. Even people that simply think about the idea are unknowingly assisting in making it a reality as their thoughts are blowing life into it. Eventually, the energy is overpowering and someone takes a risk and acts upon the idea to make it a reality.

 

Just think, if we all shared our ideas with the world immediately and openly and the world was willing to listen and act, so much more would be able to be achieved. Inevitably the world would become a better place.

 

Energetic Connection

 

 

Have you ever had a place, food, service, or professional recommended to you by someone you trust only to find that you don’t feel the same way? It has probably happened to most everyone. But, why?

 

Does It Resonate?

 

A business, house, church, or restaurant can be highly recommended and yet it just doesn’t seem to resonate with you. In the case of a restaurant, the food is good and the atmosphere is fine, but it just doesn’t feel quite right. For a church, the people can be nice and the beliefs aligned with your own. Yet, it too doesn’t feel right. The same can be said of almost anything or any one.

 

With relationships, your friend can introduce you to someone who seems perfect for you. That person seems to have all the attributes that you are looking for in a relationship. Still, there isn’t a spark and you may not even get along at all.

 

Energetic Connection

 

The reason for these reactions is that you do not connect with these places and people. It goes far beyond the logic that says that you should like these places. Instead, it falls into the category of an energetic connection.

 

Two people, places or things can have positive energy and seem to have much in common. However, the energy of the two is incompatible and they don’t resonate with each other. This does not mean that there is anything negative about either one. They simply aren’t an energetic match for each other.

 

Your Energy Knows

 

Thus, it is important to tap into your energetic sensors that give you that feeling of this is a match or not. If you simply rely on facts and logic, you will spend lots of time figuring out what your energy already knows.

 

Interestingly, if you tap into that energy, you will see the facts differently. Facts that might be interpreted as major roadblocks for something that is wrong for you will be dismissed or seen as minor bumps if it is energetically right for you. It is important to distinguish viewing facts with an energetic perspective from taking the facts and trying to make them fit because you want them to fit. These are two very different things.

 

Tap into your energy today and decisions will become obvious!