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Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

The admonition to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes means before judging someone, you must understand his experiences, challenges, thought processes, etc. The full idiom is: Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. In effect, it is a reminder to practice empathy. While long credited as a Native American aphorism, replacing the word shoes with moccasins, the saying almost certainly is derived from a Mary T. Lathrap poem published in 1895. The original title of the poem was Judge Softly, later titled Walk a Mile in His Moccasins. There are many variations on the phrase such as walk a mile in his, her or my shoes. A plea for empathy is phrased put yourself in my shoes, as well as put yourself in his or her shoes.

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Examples

THE old saying that you must walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand what they are going through was put to the test by men who took to the city’s streets in high heels. (The Worcester News)

I pray that we find our way and that these types of events teach our citizens to walk a mile in the shoes of those for whom safety and security are long forgotten dreams. (The Huffington Post)

My proposal would help our 1 per centers to think about things other than themselves — to take a road less travelled, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to stop and smell the roses and that sort of thing. (The Financial Times)

Before you criticize Fla. for being bad you should walk a mile in their alligator shoes. (The Los Angeles Times)

Teachers walk a mile in shoes of impoverished students (The Evening Tribune)

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