When you start going barefoot, it may seem like a big step for some of you, but trust me, once you get over the initial phases, you will start asking yourself how you ever were able to go about in shoes and socks. As I mentioned before, I developed a passion for going barefoot at age 9, but for some of you getting a later start, this may seem kind of foreign.
Take Baby Steps
In the movie “What About Bob?” Richard Dreyfus who plays a shrink advises Bill Murray his patient who drives him over the edge, to overcome his phobias by “taking baby steps”. This consists on concentrating on one fear at a time instead of trying to do everything in one shot. The same is true in barefooting.
Going Barefoot Begins in the home
If you are new to going barefoot, the home if is the first place to start. A lot of people do enjoy going barefoot in the home, but if you are used to wearing slippers, leave them in your closet. If you go about in socks, pull them off and start going barefoot. The first few times will seem a little alien to you, in fact you may feel as if you are naked. Don’t mind the feeling – you are starting something new and like everything else you will soon get used to it.
A good motivator for this is to keep any footwear out of sight. Stash your shoes away in your closet and socks where you can’t see them. Do this especially when you have company over. Let your family members and guests see that you go barefoot at all times in the home. Invite your co-workers or business associates as well and stay bare.
They may even start asking you if they should remove their shoes. Even though I don’t implement any kind of shoe rule at home, I often have guests or even workmen ask me if they should remove their shoes. You may want to implement it if it makes you feel more comfortable, but be forewarned that your guests may feel uncomfortable about it – but hey – it’s your home!
Going barefoot socially
As your friends, family and associates will get used to seeing you barefoot in the privacy of your own home, this will help pave the way for them to see you barefoot outside as well. After you’ve been doing this a while, you will start to wonder why you ever had anything on your feet while indoors, in fact, any kind of footwear whatsoever will feel so foreign that you will feel compelled to remove your shoes and socks at any place you please, including work. This is the signal that you are ready to take the next barefoot baby step.
Begin by leaving your socks in your drawer. If the weather is cold and you still need time to adjust your feet to the climate changes, you can invest in a pair of lined boots or fleece shoes that you can wear sockless in the winter. Wear them only when your outdoors and when the weather is below the lowest temperature you can tolerate bare. Still, In the back of your mind, continue to tell yourself that this is temporary and you will soon be going barefoot both indoors and outdoors. For now, your goal is to go barefoot socially as much as possible.
It is important to reiterate that a key thing is to remember that there is absolutely nothing unmannerly about baring your feet. Whenever indoors, go barefoot whether it’s just you and a friend or even if there are 100 people in the same room all wearing shoes and hosiery. Being the only barefoot person may feel odd at first, but after a few times, those feelings will begin to disappear and others will stop making comments.
When visiting others, most people don’t mind if you remove your shoes in their home. If you feel it may be polite to ask permission to remove your shoes, do so. Chances are your friends or family will not mind. If you are more comfortable doing this in socks, limit yourself only to the first few times just for experimentation, but then start going sockless and kicking off your shoes so you are barefoot.
I’ve mentioned in other parts of this site, that at times during the winter or to accommodate my spouse, I’ll come to a gathering in footwear. Being the only sockless person there, my footwear comes off within the first 5 minutes and I make every effort to dispose of it where it is completely out of my view and everyone else’s as well. While everyone else remains fully shod, I’m padding around in my bare feet for 2 hours until someone – often it’s my wife – notices I’m barefoot and then realizes that I’ve been barefoot the entire time.
After a while, you will also get to the point where the idea of shoes and especially socks will be enough to make your toes cringe that you will feel like barefoot is the only proper state podiatrically.
Going barefoot professionally
If you work in a fully casual environment, now that it is known that you go barefoot socially, there is no reason why you shouldn’t do the same at work. If your workplace dress code is more corporate casual, go sockless everyday and if shoes are necessary, make sure it comes off your feet very easily. Set a goal that in a week or two, you’ll be going about your entire day in bare feet. In a fully corporate environmemt, you may need to get others used to seeing you in socks. Wear loose fitting socks that you can slip off of your feet underneath your desk, so that way you can work at your desk barefoot.
This may be a big hurdle depending on what you do for a living (see going barefoot at work), but if you can get enough people used to seeing you in only socks, it will only take a few times to cross that psychological barrier (for both you and your associates) into bare feet. Remember that the key thing in these scenarios is to perform your job exceptionally well, be as accommodating as your bare feet will allow you to. At first your boss and colleagues will make comments but soon they will disappear. There will be jokes made so keep your sense of humor and smile a lot.
Going Barefoot in Public
Now that you’ve demonstrated to all your family, friends, colleagues, bosses and associates that bare feet are as integral a part of your daily attire as shoes and socks are to them, there is no longer any reason for you to be seen by even strangers in anything but bare feet. The only place where your shoes belong is in your closet, and your socks, if you still own any pairs, in your drawer, storage bin or your local thrift shop!
Remember that going barefoot is far healthier than having on footwear and unless you will be spending most of your day in a construction zone, have diabetes, or open cuts, you generally will not need to worry about having bare soles.
Get Yer Feet Dirty
Many people, among them spectators and people who wish they can go barefoot will claim that going barefoot on streets is highly unsanitary. If you think about it, when your feet are encased all day, they are perspiring – that is, the soles are emitting all the poison and toxins that the body needs to get rid of. Having nowhere to go, they linger all day in socks or shoes causing your foot to literally “swim” in them. This is what causes what is known as “athlete’s foot”. Not to mention, in places like gym lockers where the person gets a chance to remove his or her footwear, he or she is causing this fungus to spread. As a result, it creates a vicious cycle of others being afraid to go barefoot out of fear of catching this fungus.
Of course the average shoddie’s number 1 solution to the problem of athlete’s foot is to avoid it by wearing shoes and indoors, socks or slippers. Based on this reasoning, it is like putting a bandaid on the cut rather than fixing it. Or to use another analogy, remedying a nicotine or alcohol craving by taking in more nicotine or alcohol. It’s the same for people who depend on pharmaceuticals who have driven further downward on their spiral that it becomes harder for them to come off of them altogether.
If you think about it, in cultures around the world where people go barefoot 24-7, which comprises of most of the human population, you never hear about athlete’s foot or other foot disorders. For the past 10 years, I’ve been going barefoot in restaurants, buses, subways, museums, offices and gyms, as well as snow, grass, pavement, in both sunny and rainy weather, as well as snow and ice, and my feet are free of any warts or fungus. Remember that our bodies were created to adapt to their environment. It is up to us to properly maintain it.
So what’s the remedy for avoiding athlete’s foot and other skin diseases? Well if you are following the step by step approach, by going barefoot at all times in your own home (hopefully your sense of hygiene as high enough to keep your feet and your floors clean), as well as other indoor venues, the soles of your feet will strengthen and develop more of a resilience. A sole that is given the chance to go bare on any surfaces will be strong enough to prevent any kind of germs or fungus from entering the body.
This brings us also to another myth that it is somehow unsanitary to go barefoot indoors and establishments. Though it is natural that your foot may be bringing in dirt from outside, a shoe generally has more grooves, nooks and crannies where dirt easily becomes trapped, while the surface of a bare sole is generally smooth and is less capable of carrying excess dirt. The movement and spreading of your toes as you take each step prevents most dirt from getting stuck, thus, the bottom of a shoe has more dirt and debris from outside than a bare sole. It actually baffles me that for some reason, the general population thinks that it is more sanitary to have on shoes in an establishment than to be barefoot.
Even though it is actually more sanitary to walk into a public establishment barefoot than in footwear (where in public establishments people generally do not remove their footwear), it is a recommended practice to clean any dirt off of your soles and even better to wash them. This is relatively easy to do as the dirt pretty much comes right off as opposed to shoes in which the idea of washing is unheard of. This will also show your host or person running the establishment that you are conscious of your own cleanliness as well as the overall cleanliness of the place.
In conclusion, all it takes to start going barefoot is to overcome a couple of psychological barriers – the first one – coming to the realization that there is absolutely nothing weird or abnormal about it.
In the next section, I’ll talk more about overcoming the physical aspect – strengthening your feet. Generally this is a psychological barrier in itself as most surfaces and weather are relatively permissive towards bare feet. With the right conditioning, persistence, and perseverance, you will soon be barefooting in cold weather and even in snow! If you are excited about this, start going barefoot and learn how to strengthen your feet!