How to Help Your Family Walk in Someone Else's Shoes
By Sandy Schroeder
In a very busy world that can be very impersonal, health experts are encouraging us to discover and practice empathy at home, at work, and in our community.
The greatergoodberkeley.edu tells us, “Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person to understand their feelings and perspectives and use them to guide our actions."
Explore the Paths of People Around You
For each of us that can mean making the effort to reach out, really connect, and then help those around us. It could take you and your kids to an animal or marine shelter, a senior facility, or a hospital cancer ward for children. Once you start reaching out, you may find yourself looking for more ways to be more open to helping people around you.
GreaterGood writer Roman Krznaric gives us six ways to learn how to relate and help others more.
Be curious about others - Talk to people in your community. Ask questions. Find out what is going on, what needs doing. Often one person will lead to many more. You might start a conversation with a new person at work, or the lady who helps you at the library. Your kids might talk with the people in a senior facility. Set a goal of talking with one new person each week.
Sample someone’s life - Try a new sport, visit different restaurants, museums, and recreation areas in your community. Go somewhere that you have never been and see what’s going on. You may find yourself eating a new food, participating in local festivals, or helping people who could just use a hand. Make every weekend an adventure to visit a different area in your community and connect with someone there.
Learn to really listen and open up - As you and your family become more comfortable with excursions in your community, you may find yourself forming connections that become ongoing. Getting to know others can mean spending time listening to music, playing games, or just talking about common experiences. Learning to listen to hear what’s going on with people is a skill that will benefit our kids all of their lives.
Talk about what you have learned - After a few weekends of going out there to meet and help people, you may want to talk with your family about what you have seen and what it means. Your kids may surprise you with their awareness of the situation. They may even have suggestions for new ways to help the animal shelters, seniors, or people in the hospital; perhaps they will see new opportunities in their schools to help other kids. The spirit of connecting and helping is an important one to sustain. Enjoy the process with your family and keep looking for more ways to help.
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