PFA 003: NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL INFERIOR WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT
The Prepare for Awesome Podcast
Where I want to educate, inspire, motivate and empower you to strive higher, push further, give more, do more, be more as you become all you possibly can be.
‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’
This is reportedly a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, but was she right?
PFA 003: Show notes
On today’s show, we will be talking about how you can deal with feeling inferior particularly if that feeling is driven by someone else.
#PrepareForAwesome #Inferior #Inferiority #EleanorRoosevelt #FDR # AncientGreece #Shakespeare
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So, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ This quote is often ascribed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but was she right?
Whether it was the late President of the United State’s, Franklin D Roosevelt’s wife who made this comment or not does not really matter. The question is not about the veracity of the quote, but rather about the validity of the quote. That is do you believe it is true?
If we assume the quote is one that Eleanor Roosevelt actually made, I think it is important to understand a little about her life to understand why she could have made a statement like this. With a little understanding, we can gain a lot of perspective on her words. But this is not a history lesson.
So just a brief overview.
Although shy as a child, she lost both her parents at an early age and was raised by her grandmother, who sent her to Allenwood Academy in London to help her mature and become a lady. It was here she began to discover herself and thrived to become a responsible young lady.
However, after marrying FDR, the couple moved in with his mother, who was a forceful, manipulative and domineering woman. She never liked Eleanor and thought the marriage was wrong for her son. Eleanor was made to feel useless around the home and had no independence of her own.
For the first 10 years of her marriage, Eleanor was left only with the responsibility of giving birth and raising children, while also dealing with a husband who was cheating on her.
Her feelings toward herself in those first 10 years of marriage were at a bargain basement level. It is reported that she felt inferior to most people in almost every way conceivable.
In the last episode of this podcast, I spoke about that feeling of life happening to you. That feeling of you not being in control. Well this is where she found herself. Life was happening to her and she was just a passenger along for what seemed like a horrible ride.
And I know that are people reading this blog or listening to the podcast right now who feel that way. People who can identify with where Eleanor Roosevelt found herself. Made to feel inferior to her husband, his lover and inferior to her mother-in-law.
But, in her mid 30’s she made the decision to take control of her life and steer it in the direction she wanted it to go. She decided enough was enough and began to re-discover her independence and her voice. She began to re-discover her strength and stopped bowing to her mother-in-law.
And while always remaining loyal to her husband, she became publicly vocal on issues from children’s right, woman’s causes, works on behalf of the League of Women Voters and wrote a regular newspaper and magazine column.
When she entered the White House with her husband in 1933, Eleanor redefined what the First Lady’s role was and how she would live it out. She was determined to add value to everything she did and not to die unfulfilled as she had seen her grandmother do.
What a turn around and with that you could now understand how she could make that type of statement.
She had unconsciously given other people permission to make her feel inferior to them by her attitude and lack of action. Her mother-in-law, her husband and I guess to a degree, society with its precedents about women and their role in society.
So here’s the thing. Nothing hinders your achievement, your personal growth, your accomplishments or your success like the feeling of inferiority toward a person, yourself, the job. It gives rise to a lack of confidence and fear of failure.
But where does it come from? What is its source and its power?
You see we are not born with the natural ability to feel inferior or superior to any other person, in spite of the differing circumstance we may be raised in. Inferiority is an acquired or learned, deep-seated sense of feeling worthless, incapable of better and not good enough to measure up to other peoples expectations.
It is that persistent feeling, whether real or imaginary, is connected to shortcomings in physical appearance, intelligence, financial status, stature, education, social standing, etc.
There have been many occasions when I have visited friends in hospital shortly after the birth of their child and have stood looking through the nursery window and have wondered what each child will become.
But more than that I have often thought, these guys don’t even know they are black or white, male or female, American, British or Japanese. They don’t care. All they want is food and sleep. They don’t know whether they may become a doctor, engineer or thief. Billionaire tycoon, racing driver or a street sweeper.
All of these things are learned. Your place in society is learned. The expectations of who you are and will become are all learned. Whether these are learned through your family or through the education system and society in general.
If you go way back to ancient Greece, social classes were well structured and adhered to. You basically fitted into one of 4 classes and that was your lot in life and there was very little you could do to move up a class. At the bottom of the pile were the slaves or prisoners of war, who were bought and sold at the will of their masters and were seen as inferior to everyone else. That inferiority was re-enforced constantly and often brutally. In fact, they were treated as lower than domestic animals.
Women and female children came next, then male children and finally adult males. All along the way, the class above showed through their clothing, living quarters, etc, their superior status and authority.
But children had to learn to fit in with this system, grow to believe it and live within it’s confines.
The same is true through the ages. From ancient Rome to the Victorian era. The style remained the same.
To be honest, we still, in this modern age, see parts of that structure.
For example, statistics show that women on average earn 20 to 30% less than their male colleagues, even where they have the same qualifications, experience, etc. We see the class system in schooling, housing and attitudes.
So where does it come from then?
The people and the environment around all us. Just like Eleanor was made to feeling inferior by her mother-in-law, you and I learn that feeling of inferiority through the words, actions and attitudes of other people. Just like in ancient Greece, slaves were told they were inferior, they were beaten until they accepted it and the attitudes of the people around them, including other slaves, confirmed it.
If the words, actions and attitudes of a person, like a father or mother or later in life a work colleague, friend or acquaintance, are repeated often enough, they can influence us and can create that feeling of inferiority. A lifetime of being told you are not good enough, will cause you to believe it eventually.
The fact is though, many people don’t realise that they have allowed themselves to become trapped in the box of inferiority. And very often don’t realise there is a way out.
You don’t have to live in that place of feeling inferior. So if it has been a process getting to the place of feeling inferior, then it is a process of getting out of that place.
So what can you do?
Well, it may surprise you to discover just how much control you really do have over your feelings and the causes of those feeling.
For example, if someone says to you, ‘You are so stupid.’ You need to understand there are 2 things going on here which you need to separate from each other. Firstly, there is the person who has insulted you and secondly there is your feeling.
The words spoken you can’t do much about. They have been said and can never be taken back. They are out there. So that is the first thing that is going on. It is their actions and their attitude and that is their thing.
But then there is the way in which you feel and that is your thing. You, by conditioning or by decision, make a choice to feel inferior, insulted, demeaned, etc. Whether you make this a conscious choice or as an unconscious choice, the feeling is within your power to determine.
Lets face it though, most things said which give that feeling of inferiority are not said by people who are close to you and want to see that best for you. These things are mostly said by people who may not know you very well, have an ax to grind, think they are perfect and can’t do any wrong, etc. And you already know that to be a fact.
But generally, these things are said by people who don’t want others people to see their shortcomings, so they try to highlight other peoples faults or shortcomings.
So now you have considered the source of the things which give rise to those feelings of inferiority, you can begin to take control of your thoughts, which drive those feelings.
I remember very little about Shakespeare or any of his works from my school days, but I remember a quote, which it turns out comes from Romeo and Juliet. I asked my great and knowledgeable friend Google and discovered it comes from Act 2 scene 2, whatever that means, and it is this. ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other word would smell as sweet.’
So ask yourself the question, ‘Is what has been said true?’ Or if it is an attitude which has given rise to that feeling, stop, breathe and take control of your thoughts. You can then choose to act differently and feel differently.
If whatever is being said is not true, you have nothing to feel inferior about.
As you train yourself to understand you are in control of how you feel, no matter what words people use toward you, you will always ‘smell as sweet’.
As you take more and more control over your thoughts and the inferiority feelings begin to diminish and the more you will begin to believe in yourself and your qualities. Very soon, a whole new life will lay ahead.
Obviously, the older you get and the more things people have said about you, the more difficult it to overcome, but it is worth it. It is never too late to turn it all around and find a new perspective on you and your abilities.
So my challenge to you is, this next week, when someone tries to belittle you with their words and actions or you feel that inferiority feeling growing, ask yourself, ‘Is what has been said true?’ or if it is an attitude check the source and ask, ‘What is the reason behind the attitude and how can I confront it?’
So that it for this episode. Thanks for listening. It has been great chatting with you today and I look forward to doing so again in the next episode.
Thanks again for your time today and I look forward to chatting with you on the next episode where I will again share with you ideas, tips and tools to help you become the best version of yourself you could possibly be.
Have a great day. And remember to be awesome today.
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