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No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent

Updated on January 9, 2012

Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady and wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, is attributed with saying one of my favorite quotes: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

When I first read this quote, however, I disagreed. Plenty of people had made me feel inferior and I did not consent to it (read Don’t Let Bullies Ruin Your Life – Parts 1 and 2). What could she possibly mean? And what made her, a woman born into immense wealth and privilege, qualified to make such a statement?

After researching her life, I discovered she was more than qualified. Although she was a member of a high society, her life was not free of low periods. She lost both parents by the age of eleven, her husband – who was also her fifth cousin once removed – was unfaithful and, during her marriage, she acquiesced to the will of a domineering mother-in-law. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and enclosing herself in the comfort and luxury her wealth could afford, she became a proponent of civil rights, an advocate of women’s rights and an eloquent speaker. She did not allow the hurt she experienced to crush her self-worth or her purpose.

Like Mrs. Roosevelt, we should not let the opinions or actions of others determine how we feel about ourselves. This is not to say that people don’t do or say things to make others feel inferior. During Mrs. Roosevelt’s lifetime, there were laws enacted that designated certain groups as second-class citizens. Currently, there is bullying across the world despite the push to stop it. Words can hurt as much as a fist. Sometimes, the pain of an insult can hurt worse than a punch to the gut because it tends to travel with us like carry-on luggage.

Although there may be unfair policies and practices, although that person did you wrong or was cruel, you cannot give in. You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control your reactions to them. To allow another person’s negative opinion to affect your opinion of yourself is to be in agreement with the negativity. We should all take the stance of “Just because this law states I’m a second-class citizen, I am not,” and “Just because that person says I’m ugly and dumb, I am not.”

This, of course, is a learned behavior that goes against natural instinct. As Mrs. Roosevelt’s life illustrates, it can be achieved. We are not defined by our circumstances or other people’s opinions…unless we consent to it.

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      2 years ago

      TRUTH

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      Johng863 3 years ago

      I really enjoy the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic. edeaddadkabc

    • cadebe profile image
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      cadebe 5 years ago

      Thanks for the kind and insightful comment, jeugenejohn.

    • jeugenejohn profile image

      jeugenejohn 5 years ago from Kerala

      An article with a strong message. Humility does not mean we are inferior to others, but equal in all aspects.

    • cadebe profile image
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      cadebe 5 years ago

      Thanks, Meloncauli. I totally agree.

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 5 years ago from UK

      Interesting hub. We need to learn to love ourselves more to begin with then it's harder for people to make us feel inferior anyway.

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      kali 5 years ago

      i Love this quote! The first time I heard it was when I was 12 and it got me through some really tuff times. But i somehow found the strength to stand up for myself and then i thought why not take it one step further so I stood up for others too. It can sometimes be a heavy weight though but I've continued it through HS and now through college and i would like to believe my way of thinking may have helped others from doing stupid things too. I think THAT was the only thing that got me through it. That i knew I had to be strong for others. though I Love that quote, i must say, i would have reworded it to, "No one should be able to make you feel inferior without your consent." Because in reality they do. But you have the power to change that! The hardest part is finding it. But once you do, nothing can knock you down! :)

    • cadebe profile image
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      cadebe 5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment, mandymoreno81. I agree.

    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 5 years ago

      It's easier said than done but people need to realize that they do have the power to change their situation, no matter how difficult it may be. It's hard to find the voice and ability to stand up for yourself but it's certainly possible.

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      cadebe 5 years ago

      Hopefully very soon, shea duane! :-) My turnaround happened around the time I realized the people trying to make me feel inferior had just as many insecurities as I had. Plus, I got tired of trying to impress people who obviously would never be impressed with me. Not that I don't have my moments, though. Thankfully I am now able to shake them off.

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      shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

      I'm 50... when will it becoem easier for me??? lol

    • cadebe profile image
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      cadebe 5 years ago

      Thanks shea duane & SoberNation for reading and for also leaving such kind and thought-provoking comments!

      I often wish I had stumbled across Mrs. Roosevelt's quote when I was a teen. It takes effort to not let others make you feel inferior. I was totally unable to do it when I was younger. The older I become, though, the easier it is for me.

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      SoberNation 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Fl

      Excellent stuff. I agree with Shea a little bit, but not completely. I've got a big belly, which isn't the "social norm". But I like it! I think its how we feel about ourselves inside that counts.

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      shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

      Great hub. I agree and disagree, though. I think we are conditioned by society to feel inferior if we are not 'perfect' by social standards. I love Mrs. Roosevelt and hope I can, like you, fight against the conditioning that makes us 'let' others hurt us. As I said, great hub.