Indignant or Empowered: the choice is yours

EleanorRooseveltJust 2 short weeks ago we moved into February – the month of hearts, cupids and loving sentiments. While chocolate, red roses and romance has been plentiful in the Northeast, so has the cold weather and snow! Daylight still fades much sooner than most of us wish it would and the last vestiges of 2014 holiday cheer faded just as our good friend Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of cold, snowy and “not-quite-Spring” weather. People are tired of being cold, shoveling snow, wearing boots and battling treacherous roads on the way to work which translates into an environment that’s ripe for disagreements and other workplace conflict.

In other words, it’s a tough month to remind people about the Complaint-Free concept! This mid-Winter melancholy recently inspired me to share some advice from Eleanor Roosevelt; wisdom that is timeless and relevant for all of us at some point in our lives.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I am particularly encouraged by this quote because it came from a woman who endured a lot of very public criticism. Eleanor Roosevelt was the wife of the 32nd President of the United States (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and was instrumental in his presidency during war time when he became ill. After his death, her tireless work for the nation, including advocacy for those without a voice, culminated in her appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1945 by President Harry Truman.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s biography is much more extensive than this brief mention, but my point is that she accomplished a great deal in her lifetime, and did so regardless of the often-hurtful things said about her by strangers as well as close associates.

What in the world does this have to do with me?!?” you may be wondering.

We’ve all said things carelessly. Sometimes we realize this and apologize – other times we have no conscious realization that our words have upset or hurt someone and we go on our way.

While each of us is responsible for asking, “how can I be more kind?” we also have a responsibility for the way we react when careless things are said to or about us.
We can choose to be incensed and insulted; to carry the indignation around like a badge, telling our “how dare they!” story and creating disharmony, OR we can choose to allow the comments to roll off of us like water off of a duck’s feathers. In some circles this is called “choosing not to own it”.

When we refuse to “own” the insult or careless comments of another, the words lose their power. More importantly – we reclaim our power. By knowing that we get to define ourselves and what we contribute, we can neutralize and rise above what someone else thinks or says about us. Their words become irrelevant in defining who we are, what we do and most important of all: how we feel.

So,…the next time you catch yourself getting upset or angry about what another person says to you, or about you,….channel your inner Eleanor and ask yourself if you are willing to give your consent – your power – to someone else, …and then make a different choice.

Know your worth; remind yourself often, and make this week your best week of 2015 so far!


originally posted on the author’s LinkedIn page 


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