Eleanor Roosevelt’s Sign by John Powell
All the passages below are taken from John Powell’s book “Stories from my Heart,” published in 2001.
Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin, our former president, had a sign in her office. She had been attacked and belittled on several counts. I am beginning to think that there is no thesis on earth without its opposition, no person on earth who does not receive criticism for something. Eleanor’s sign read: “No one can make you feel inferior unless you give him or her permission!”
I think that the meaning of the sign is very important. Let me make a stab at this meaning. (I have been told that I have an amazing grasp of the obvious.)
If a person thinks of self as (somehow) inferior, then the remark, “You are (somehow) inferior,” will resonate inside that person as recognition. On the other hand, if a person does not think of self as (somehow) inferior, then it will resonate inside that person as a misunderstanding. At most it will seem to be a false impression.
The same is true of “good . . . beautiful . . . kind . . . intelligent, etc.” If a person thinks of self as endowed by God with goodness, beauty, kindness, intelligence, he or she will be able to interiorize compliments for such. If the person does not recognize these qualities in self, he or she will assume other motives for the compliments. At least such a person will scratch his or her head.
So, Eleanor’s sign has great meaning for me. In order to be hurt (or helped), we must first give our permission to be hurt (or helped).
What do I see when I look through the lens of my attitude toward myself? [126-127]