Been there, done that.
I crossed that bridge...
Tell me about it!
Are more of "I really have been through that", whereas "putting himself in somebody´s shoes" may or may not
denote that you have passed that experience in life,or else you are just being sympathetic.
In this site for example, take the excerpt until the 3rd paragraph:
"Just over a week ago, I pored over the photo on thestar.com like a teenage girl.
The photo was taken at Adam Giambrone’s launch for mayor. His partner, Sarah, was right by his side, gazing up at him with pride. The videos I watched showed the same thing.
I poured over these photos trying to put myself in this woman’s shoes. I mean my name is Sarah, too. We’re about the same age. We both have glasses. I have a set of pearls (though more than likely the ones she wore that night are real)."
(The author could be just emphatysing with the other Sarah. It could even be in a positive way. )
Whereas in the end it has:
"And then Tuesday morning happened.
As news broke about Giambrone’s alleged affair with a 20-year-old student (and we thought that video of his was bad), I find myself empathizing with Sarah McQuarrie even more.What was she thinking now? What was she feeling?
Whenever these politician sex scandals happen, all that’s talked about is the politician and his mistress. His mistress is given all the air time, his partner (usually wife) is left silent. I can’t even imagine what this woman is going through this morning."
Then it do means "viver na pele/realmente passar por algo" (as in Thiago initial question).
Well, when you empathize with someone it might mean that you have experienced the same thing, but sometimes it just means that you understand what the other people is not alone, you are listening (not necessarily that you have experienced that too).
I hope I have made myself understood this time, English minutes are sometimes harder to explain than to understand indeed.