I LOVE quotes. I have a quote journal that I’m adding quotes to all the time. But every now and then I run across one that raises the hackles on the back of my neck. (And those DON’T go in my journal!) That happened last night while reading one of Raili’s posts over at soulgifts — Telling Tales. The post, Words, is a list of quotes, MOST of which I DO have in my journal. But the Eleanor Roosevelt quote she used never fails to set my teeth on edge.

EleanorRoosevelt600No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote really touches a nerve somewhere deep within me. I don’t believe what it says is true, for one thing. And for another, I believed, just like with scripture, someone has taken it out of context and used it to suit their own purpose. So maybe my response to it was wrong? I decided to do some poking around to see where the quote was first used. I found out that was a whole lot easier said than done. Until I ran across…

What I found on Quote Investigator was the history of how the quote came to be. It was a response by Eleanor Roosevelt to the press about a big flap over a speech that was to be given at the University of California, Berkeley in 1935 by the Secretary of Labor in the Roosevelt administration. Seems the lady that normally hosted the event had her nose out of joint because the SoL wasn’t political enough for her, so she declined to host it that year.

Long story short, the happening made its round of the press and some folks were feeling the SoL had been snubbed. The press reported Eleanor as saying:

“A snub” defined the first lady, “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.”
She made clear she didn’t think the labor secretary fell within the category of the “snubable.” (excerpt from an Associated Press article)

So after a long history of being reprinted here and there, the quote finally ended up in its present form by 1940. (If you’re interested, you can follow the history of that metamorphosis at the link above for the Quote Investigator.)

In the end, that history didn’t change my feelings about the quote. I still disagree with it. Why? For the simple reason I believe we are conditioned to feel inferior (albeit not intentionally in most families) from a very young age when we have no control whatsoever over whether we believe something or not. If an adult implies it (or our older siblings maybe) it must be true. I think our schools are horribly guilty of this.

184607_childrenbullying362Adults seem all-knowing to children. That’s why it’s so easy for them to abuse children and make the child feel like the abuse is his/her fault. And once we have taken on those feelings as gospel truth, I think they haunt us for the rest of our lives. I don’t believe it’s a matter of “letting” someone else make us feel inferior. It’s a learned behavior that is harder than heck to fix because we believe it at our core. Just seeing the hundreds and hundreds of articles on it when I asked the almighty Google when we start feeling inferior, I KNOW that’s true.

Okay. So maybe I’m just super sensitive to this particular subject because I’m one of those grown children who has felt inferior all my life. And a lot of times it’s pert near crippled me when it came to doing/trying new things, meeting new people, etc.

So am I alone in my dislike of this particular quote? And do any of you guys have quotes that just don’t sit well with you? I’d love to hear about that! (Especially now that I’ve had a bit of a rant about THIS one! o_O


Picture Credits:
Eleanor Roosevelt — www.wnyc.org
Quote Investigator Header — http://quoteinvestigator.com/
Young Girls — wolipop.detik.com