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Whose Shoes Are They Anyway? January 24, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, People.

Friends and family,   acquaintances, and even strangers offer advice on matters beyond their ken.

Feel free to disregard the proffered advice.

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

You don’t need to justify your  decisions, or fit into neatly defined categories.

You are in a unique position.  You are the only expert on your life, your dreams,  your motivations, your preferences, and your priorities.  You  have the best vantage point to decide which choices are right for you.

You are an artist.  Your life is your masterpiece.  You can allow others to dictate the subject matter, colors, tastes, and textures which you apply to your canvas, or you can create a unique tapestry by following your desires.

Advice arrives daily on a myriad of topics ~ who to marry, whether and when to have children,  what career to pursue, the food, books, and movies we should consume, the car we should drive, the clothes we should wear, the religion we should follow, the sexual positions we should master, where we should vacation, and even whether we should have a natural or artificial Christmas tree!

When people offer advice, they are merely saying what they would do if they were in your shoes.

Only they are not in your shoes ~ you are. 

They are entitled to their opinions, and you are entitled to yours.

You do not have to like Green Eggs and Ham, even if they are a favorite of Sam-I-Am!

No matter how well a person knows you, you know yourself better.  And, if you don’t, you should.

When you know WHO you are, you will know HOW to live.

Of course . . . that’s just my opinion.  🙂

No rules.  Just write!

For wonderful writing advice, especially when well-meaning friends say, “You know what you should write about?” or “I’ve got a great idea for a story!”:  Keeping Focused by Jennifer R. Hubbard (Becky Levine)

Related posts:  What Have You Been Told? * Free to be Child-Free * Ho~Ho~Ho! Merry Christmas! * Stop Playing “Follow The Leader” * Life Is Not One-Size-Fits-All * Decisions, Decisions * Generosity of SpiritBut I Might Die Tonight * Way of the Peaceful Warrior * Live Your Life


1. Richard W Scott - January 24, 2011

I’m trying to decide whether or not to take this advice. (grin)

nrhatch - January 24, 2011

Exactly. It’s just as silly to mindlessly accept advice as it is to reject it “out of hand.”

Evaluating it in the light of what you already “know” about WHO you are is key.

But you already know that! 😉

2. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 24, 2011

Of course, if I were going to pick whose shoes I wore, I would choose some that belong to more delicate and dainty feet! Then I would choose the appropriate feet!

Great post, Nancy! 😀

nrhatch - January 24, 2011

You comment reminded me of Cinderella’s step sisters trying to mash their feet into the delicate and dainty slipper held out by Prince Charming. 🙂

Thanks, PTC!

3. Carol Ann Hoel - January 24, 2011

I agree that we are entitled to make our own choices. After all, we have to live with them. It’s only right. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - January 24, 2011

We want people to like us, so we are easily manipulated at times. If we are not mindful, we can get swallowed up by the preferences of others about what to do, be say, and think.

Then, one day, we wake up and realize we don’t know WHO we are or HOW we ended up where we are. The voices of those around us have completely drowned out the still silent voice within. And we are lost.

4. jannatwrites - January 24, 2011

Great post…and the comments were entertaining also 🙂 Sometimes it’s nice to hear someone else’s perspective, but it’s empowering to know the final choice is my own.

nrhatch - January 24, 2011

I agree. Having free will isn’t worth much if the decision making is left to those around us. 🙂

5. Cindy - January 25, 2011

Don’t anyone dare try to tell me anything about shoes … !!!
(Who’s that in the photo?)

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

My sister. 🙂

I assume you know The Cat in the Hat
As well as Thing One and Thing Two

6. Booksphotographsandartwork - January 25, 2011

I love to ask opinions of different people but that dosen’t mean that I will agree with or use all of them. It’s just one way that I sometimes weigh the pros and cons. I usually come up with what I want or need to know just by verbalizing something. Oh and by the way I still have no idea who I am at the age of 51! I know, I know, I should but I don’t! Hmmmm Maybe I should discuss it out loud with myself.

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

That’s how I felt at 39. I stopped practicing law and had NO IDEA what I wanted to do next. I was completely in the dark.

So I started small. What do I want to eat? What do I want to do this afternoon? Do I want to go to that party?

At first it was hard to even answer those types of questions. Conflict surrounded every question.

I don’t want to go to the party, but I should go to the party, because they wanted me at the party enough to invite me, and I like them, and want their friendship, so I better go to the party, but I don’t want to go to the party . . .

It gets easy. At times, it’s still a struggle.

7. souldipper - January 25, 2011

I can hear the gavel! Bang! Could you still be a judge? You could give Judge Judy a run for her money. 😀

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

I am an attorney in good standing in three states ~ NC, PA, and NJ.

I could be a judge if I returned to one of those states, reactivated my license, took a ton of CLE courses to get up to speed, and then jumped through a bunch of hoops to get appointed as a judge.

Or I could stay here ~ barefoot and fancy free.

Another option would be taking the FL Bar to get admitted to practice here. But there isn’t a single day in 14 years that I’ve regretted my decision to stop practicing. So, I doubt that is going to happen.

At the moment, my life is a perfect fit. 🙂

8. granny1947 - January 25, 2011


nrhatch - January 25, 2011

Thanks, Granny.

Freedom and Autonomy are a central focus in my life. I expect that one reason that so many people are not happy and content is that they are not being true to themselves.

The more we know who we are, the better choices we make about how to live.

9. flyinggma - January 25, 2011

I’ve often tried to wear someone else’s shoes and all I got was stinky feet and blisters. No more…

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

Excellent analogy, Jeanne.

When we live life by following the preferences of others, it’s hard to soar. Instead, we idle on the runway and never really take off.

10. Loreen Lee - January 25, 2011

It appears that the conflict from which we want release into a life of freedom and happiness is not with others, but with ourselves.

The Great Loss Hidden in Wanting Others to Like You
by Guy Finley

Key Lesson: You cannot suffer the pain of wanting to be all things to all people without having first forgotten what it means to be true to yourself.

This article is excerpted from The Secret of Letting Go (pages 156-161)

How to Win Your Own Life
No human being has any authority over you. Your life belongs to you and to you alone. No scowling face or irritated manner, no challenging posture or threatening tone has any power to make you feel nervous or anxious, frightened or angry.

What this means is that if we are not living life completely on our own terms — if there is anyone in our life that dominates us — it isn’t because life has given that person an unfair advantage or power over us. The fact is simply that we have given away our true estate in life, a forgotten heritage that calls to us now to remind us that our True Self cannot be dominated by anyone or anything. Each of us is entitled to be a wholly independent and totally free human being. Truth declares that nothing real stands between you and this noble life, and it invites you to recover the real pleasure of living life on your own terms.

“I can actually feel the rightness in this idea, and there are times when it seems I am able to live life on my own terms. Then there are those other times when, for some unknown reasons, it feels like I have no life of my own. For instance, sometimes I agree to do things for people I don’t really want to do at all, or I find myself in places where I don’t really want to be — with people I don’t really like — and yet I can’t seem to leave. And sometimes I feel so much resentment toward the very people whose approval means the most to me… it just doesn’t make sense. When these times come, not only am I unsure of why I am acting the way I am, but I don’t even like myself. It doesn’t add up! How can a person be in charge of his own life one minute, and in the next minute find it in someone else’s hands?”

The truth is it will never add up as long as you are figuring in flattering but false notions about yourself. Plug this new self-insight into your equation and see if things don’t immediately make more sense: Whenever you do something that you resent doing but feel compelled to do, you must unconsciously be more concerned with how others feel about you than you are with how you are really feeling. This is what it means to live in conflict.

“I can see that this must be the case. It explains almost everything except for why I would want to treat myself this way. Why do I care at all about how I appear in the eyes of others?”

Please follow this explanation carefully. It will set you back on the road to having your own life. You have always believed that the better people feel about you, the better you can feel about yourself. However, you may have never really considered that the opposite of this belief must hold equally and unhappily true, and that is: The less you are approved by others, the more alone and uncertain you feel. This helps to explain why you think you have to please people, as well as why you resent those you feel you must please. Being approved by others has become a strange kind of life-support system wherein, after a lifetime of depending on it, you unconsciously believe that there won’t be life without someone there to approve you into existence. Just the opposite is true. The more you depend on others to confirm you to yourself, the less real life you have of your own.

The chief cause of why our lives so often wind up in the hands of others is not that they are superior or that the world is too strong for us, but that we don’t want to face the uncertainty and aloneness that we think we are too weak to bear. This is the real cause of all of our wrong relationships in life. We have been betrayed by a belief in our own weakness.

The conscious refusal to go along with your weakness is what invokes and finally delivers real inner confidence. This new kind of strength gradually becomes the cornerstone of a true individual existence — the life you’ve always wanted. The stakes are actually eternal — but self-victory is as certain as the fact that light always triumphs over darkness. If you will stay in the middle of this struggle for true self-possession, not asserting your individuality but allowing it to flourish and to blossom — bearing what you must bear by refusing to submit yourself to negative, self-betraying influences — you will come to know the highest approval that life can award: Reality itself will approve you. And when it does, all of your struggles will become a thing of the past. You will possess yourself. No one around you will suspect that you now live in a new kind of bright inner world — a world that is always on your terms, because your terms and the terms of this happy new inner world are never in conflict. You have won your own life.

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

Thanks for this, LL. It sums up how I try to live these days ~ free and autonomous.

Guy says, “Each of us is entitled to be a wholly independent and totally free human being.” ~ this “truth” is why I love the quote:

“What you think of me is none of my business.”

It reminds me to mind MY business and let “them” mind theirs.

And why I love this quote:

You have as many reputations as acquaintances and none is accurate.

When we start to live our own life, we care less and less what others think of us and they lose their ability to manipulate us into doing what THEY want US to do.

Excellent addition to the discussion.

11. Loreen Lee - January 25, 2011

I found a must see. If you have time, you may like to Google ‘Ego is a Closed Loop’. I found it wonderful.

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

I’ll check it out. Thanks.

Loreen Lee - January 25, 2011

Also just found on Ted: http://www.authentichappiness.org a test on your quality of happiness in three areas: l pleasure, 2. flow or eudamonia, and concentration, engagement, time stopping, and 3. meaning, strength of purpose and ‘helping others’. It says that technology, entertainment and design will help us in all these areas. Thanks for your patience. Am going to stop forwarding for now. Just thought that these would resonate with you.

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

You might be interested in this post I did back in March when SLTW was in its infancy:


When we are “in the flow” of life ~ our generosity of spirit expands. But we share the parts of ourself that we want to share . . . rather than just saying “yes” to the demands of others.

12. suzicate - January 25, 2011

I suppose I should have read this post before today’s post since they tie together. Yes, we always think we know what’s best for everyone, especially our kids…and even there we’re wrong and need to grant them the freedom and support to find their way even when we don’t like it.

nrhatch - January 25, 2011

In some ways, this post makes more sense AFTER reading the concrete examples used in “I know what YOU should do.”

It’s not just silly input on trivial issues. People like to have input in the BIG issues too.

But, once we reach adulthood, it’s not the GIVING of advice that is the problem . . . it’s the TAKING of it without thinking things through for ourselves.

13. “I Know What YOU Should Do” | Spirit Lights The Way - July 29, 2013

[…] posts:  Whose Shoes Are They Anyway? * Other People See Your Problems More Clearly Than You Do […]

14. Rejecting Proffered Advice | Spirit Lights The Way - August 12, 2013

[…] * How Do You Know? (Awakening to Your Story) * The Matrix of Choice (Think Simple Now) * Whose Shoes Are They Anyway? * Other People See Your Problems More Clearly Than You Do  […]

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