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Oh, so that's how the quote goes...

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:59am

Oh, so that's how the quote goes. Thanks, Courtney! I knew I was off a bit... I don't think her quote and what I said are mutually exclusive or conflicting- here's why, and see what you think-

In a large sense, a meaning of what Eleanor Roosevelt said is that no one can take away our power without our consent. She puts it in terms of feeling inferior; that sentiment, feeling inferior, can be seen as what it is, in and of itself, and it can also be generalized as part of the larger concept of power.

It is true that words can be hurtful and we ought to be careful about how we use them. That truth doesn't negate any veracity in what Mrs. Roosevelt said. For example, last week a client told me someone had called her "chubby." At first she was horrified by the comment, by the fact that this person had actually said it, and by the worry that it might mean she was fat. After the initial shock wore off, she reviewed what she knew to be true: She is an athlete, with strong, well-developed muscles. She's in terrific shape and has lots of strength and stamina. Her doctor says her weight is well within normal limits and her body composition is pretty much all muscle.

So, after reviewing the evidence, this client could say to herself, "Hey, wait a minute, what's he talking about? I'm perfectly fine." By doing this, she kept her power, and did not allow the comment or the person who said it take that power away from her. She then went one step farther and asked her friend not to make such comments- he could think whatever he wanted about her body, but she didn't want to hear it. She had asserted her power even further by communicating to the commenter that she'd appreciate him never repeating what he'd said, or anything like it.

Those words he said about being chubby could have "cut like a knife" and they did sting for a few moments initially. My client's ability to remind herself of, and hold onto, the truth about what she knew, prevented them from cutting deeply.

Again, I'm not saying words can't hurt. Sometimes no matter what we do, or what we know to be true, we can't prevent them from hurting. And we can't always protect ourselves from being hurt by something someone says. All these things can be true- which is why in our relationships we need to be thoughtful about what, how, and when we say things.

Here, I'm talking about a specific type of protecting ourselves- or "inoculating" might be a more apt way to put it- from what people say- the things the say that usually are more about them and their views than really about us. And this has everything to do with staying true to ourselves, learning not to doubt what we know is true, and learning to hold onto our truth and not letting it go.

I'm going out of town until this Sunday. I plan to have my computer with me, but depending on internet access, I may be off my blog for a couple of days. If so, I'll be collecting thoughts and ideas to write about when I get back. And if so, I'll miss writing, and I'll miss getting to read your comments! Have a good few days.

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