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Do you believe in shoes? Are you sure?!

"For the person who wears shoes, the earth is covered with leather."

-my grandfather Boog

I searched Google to try to find the author of this quote. I couldn't. Since my grandfather was a pretty wise man, most likely he was the author. I remember him repeating this idea several times.

Let's apply the underlying principle of this idea to another even more important life area

"How could anything be more important than having shoes to wear?" you might be thinking.

Consider the following vignettes.

Vignette #1

Jamie says to you in a voice filled with frustration, "How could you forget to bring what I asked you to?!"

You, not "wearing shoes" and believing that Jamie shouldn't speak to you in a blaming way and instead should "wear shoes" so that you don't occur to her as having done something wrong, feel hurt and you respond with, "Well, you forget things too! Get off my back!"

Jamie, again, feeling like a victim and believing that you shouldn't speak back to her in a blaming way, feels hurt and responds with sadness, "You just don't care about my feelings."


Vignette #2

Jamie says to you in a voice filled with frustration, "How could you forget to bring what I asked you to?!"

You, "wearing shoes" and knowing Jamie's upset is not about you, respond with compassion and curiosity, "It pretty easy to understand why you'd be upset about that. I did forget. Would you like to tell me more about your disappointment?"

Jamie, not "wearing shoes" and secretly feeling some gratitude that you are "wearing shoes," responds with "Yeah, maybe I could have reminded you since I thought that you might forget. It's just been a rough day for me. I'm sorry."

Which are you more likely to be successful at?

  1. Spending your life energies trying to get others to "wear shoes" so that they don't get hostile or defensive because you occur to them as someone they need to change or protect themselves from?

  2. Or learning to "wear shoes" yourself so that others never or rarely occur to you as somebody you need to change or defend yourself from?

It's so obvious that you have a good chance of being successful at the latter rather than the former. Yet, for most of us, we act as if it's not obvious. We keep trying to change others.

When you "wear shoes" first, it will often occur that others are also "wearing shoes"

Byron Katie said, "Defense is the first act of war."

If you occur to others as someone who is not judging them (even if they are judging you), then they are likely to start responding as more accepting and non-judging of you.

And, even when others continue to get defensive with you, judge you, or try to change you, it's still okay since your "wearing shoes" regardless of whether they are.

"Wearing shoes" doesn't mean you don't set and maintain boundaries to take care of yourself

In fact, when you're "wearing shoes," it's much easier and more likely that you are going to be able to set appropriate boundaries with the various people in your life. This ensures that you're taking the best care of both yourself and your relationships with others.

The benefits are huge

You essentially "change" every person in world just by learning how to "wear shoes" yourself, which means that you see others and yourself more accurately and you fundamentally know that there is no one you need to defend yourself from. You surprisingly find that you live in a friendly universe, discovering that everything and everyone was put here just for you to play with and have fun with.

Why have so few of us focused our primary attention on creating the habit of "wearing shoes"?

Instead, we have, most often by default, continued to see ourselves and some others as victims and continue the default habits of defense, withdrawal, control, and blame.

The answer lies in a perfect storm of cognitive biases.

Here are the ring leaders of that conspiracy.

See Cognitive biases for an explanation of each of these biases.

A few tools to help you learn to "wear shoes"

Asking yourself a new question

If you were going barefoot and you stepped on a small piece of broken glass that cut into your foot, would you think,

"Damn it! What careless punk broke a glass and then didn't pick it up!?"


"Interesting. If I put more focus on learning how to wear shoes, I wouldn't have even noticed that glass."

Use Kickstarting a mental habit to program in the new mental habit of having the second response.

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