Words carry amazing power. They inspire us. They move us. They motivate us. They challenge us. We commit them to memory and carry them with us.
Today’s guest post from Mary at Transitioning Mom is a reflection on her favorite quote. I hope you find in these words the same power Mary did.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
I withdraw my consent…
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use the words of someone else to lift me up. Positive quotations are posted in my bathroom, living room, school room, and kitchen, decorating the rooms in which I spend the most time. (As a middle-aged woman, you’ll notice I started with the bathroom.) So, when The Lucky Mom asked me to write about a quote that inspires me, I went to my favorite.
Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was a wise woman whose words helped form the woman I am. I don’t remember the first time I saw this quote. It was likely in high school, a time of great emotional turmoil. I remember I felt empowered. A little. However, it would take years for me to truly internalize her message.
Like many, I’ve struggled with the voices of doubt and insecurity that hide in the corners of my mind. They creep from the darkness at unexpected times. Usually when I’m tired, over-stretched, or just feeling a bit funky. In the past, I gave them far more power than they deserved, and in doing so, left the door wide open for others to place their limitations on me. Regardless of my success, there was a part of me that often felt inferior to others. When snide, hurtful or sarcastic comments were made, I believed them. In turn, I gave myself permission to blame others when I was unhappy. However, I was the only one standing in the way of my happiness, not others. Conscious or not, I made a choice each time I allowed someone to make me feel inferior. I took baby-steps of change in my 20’s and giant leaps in my 30’s.
Becoming a mother changes most of us; we are pushed to re-examine all we have learned and internalized. And, so it was with me. When my first-born was still an infant, I stumbled upon Roosevelt’s words once again. One warm summer day, my mother-in-law shared with me all the ways I was mothering “wrong.” By the time she had left, I was convinced I had already failed as a mother. At the end of that exhausting day, I grabbed my book of positive quotations in search of encouragement. In Roosevelt’s words, I found encouragement and much more.
Though I’d read her quote before, I internalized it that day. It helped form the foundation of my parenting, and the message I have tried to instill in my daughters. When feeling hurt, insulted or otherwise inferior, we ask, “Why am I consenting?” and through that question, we can reclaim our power and withdraw our consent.
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