When my daughter was younger, we would watch a lot of chick flix and girlie movies, because it was just the two of us and we could. One movie we watched multiple time is Princess Diaries. I mean who hasn’t?
One scene that stands out to me is when Princess Mia’s (Anne Hathaway) limo driver (Hector Elizondo) quotes Eleanor Roosevelt. “You should know, that no one can make you feel inferior with out your consent.”
In doing my research on this quote, she was referring to someone being snubbed. Her original quote went more along the lines of:
“A snub is the effort of a person who feels superior to make someone else feel inferior. To do so, he has to find someone who can be made to feel inferior.”
Over the years, it got modified to the shorter version.
Recently, I was on Pinterest (I admit I spend way too much time on there) and came across this quote from Warren Buffett, which has, in my opinion, a similar message.
“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.”
I thought it was a compelling quote. For those of us dealing with fear, anxiety, depression, unworthiness, low self-confidence, low self-esteem and everything else associated with that, a reminder like this is powerful.
Eleanor’s quote basically says that I will not let you make me feel bad just because you treated me like crap. Warren’s quote basically says that I will not lose control of my emotions just because of what you said to me.
Really what it comes down to is only we have control over our own words, thoughts, emotions and actions. Other people really cannot make us do anything that we do not want to do. Yes, there may be consequences for doing or not doing something (like getting fired for not going to work) but the actions are still in our control. We say, think, feel what we want and act the way we want knowing there may be consequences.
It also comes down to the lies we believe about ourselves that are only reinforced when someone tries to make us feel inferior. If someone is having a bad day and yells and says rude, mean things to us, who do we, especially women, blame? Almost always, the first person we will blame is ourselves. Our first thought is not, “Oh, they must be having a bad day.” Almost always, our first thought is. “Oh, what did I do wrong? I can’t do anything right.” Or something similar to this.
Then for the next 30 minutes, we have to try to convince ourselves that, no, we are right and they are wrong. But are you really sure about that? Are you sure you know what you are talking about?
There are so many examples in the New Testament where Jesus was ridiculed and tested. He was confident in His skills, knowledge and teachings. When teachers of the law tested Him, not for one second did He doubt His responses.
Even at the end of His life, the Romans, the Jewish Leaders and Jewish people ridiculed Him. When that happened, what was His response? He stood there and listened to it and accepted their judgement. He did not angrily defend Himself or break down in tears just because they were mean to Him and lying about His behaviour, actions and intent.
They beat Him, nearly to death, and He just took it all in. Jesus was in grave pain as He carried that cross with the crown of thorns on His head; as they continued to beat Him when He tripped and fell, and blood ran down His face and body. He gathered the strength He needed to continue on. Was God giving Him the strength He needed to take each step to Calvary? Maybe.
Even as Jesus took His last few breaths, He forgave them. Instead of fighting, instead of getting off the cross, He accepted the judgement, though He and the disciples knew He was innocent. One of the most memorable quotes on cross was Jesus forgiving His persecutors.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
So when the people around us are trying to make us feel inferior, to ridicule and insult us, do not react, but respond. Ask God for strength and courage to deal with these difficult people. Lastly, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Very few people actually intend to harm us. It is usually their carelessness and our immediate reactions that cause the most pain. Do not give others the power to feel superior over you. Do not give them your consent.
Use your inner strength and power to control your response. And ask God to give you strength when you can’t do it on your own.