What are your thoughts on the following quote: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

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Like many truisms in our culture, the "truth" of this one depends on the circumstance. We have to understand, first, that we live in what scholar and cultural critic Henry Giroux calls a "culture of cruelty" in the United States. In such a culture, people are continually blamed for their own problems when, in fact, many of the problems people are face are systemic.

I would say that, while a "correct" interpretation of this quote is probably "you are responsible for your own self-esteem and your own experience," that answer, in fact, is not entirely truthful. It depends on the power differential between you and the person or group trying to make you feel inferior. A parent, for example, can very easily make a young child feel terrible about himself without his consent, simply because the child is too young to fight back against the adult's idea of his worth. The child is learning to define his self-worth against the approval of the parent—and who is he to say the parent is wrong?

Likewise, if a powerful group that controls resources tells you that you are worthless and, worse, denies you access to the resources that define worth in your culture, you are likely to have a hard time not feeling inferior, especially if the message is repeated over and over in small ways (this is called micro-aggression).

On the other hand, if you are among people who are truly your equals or over whom you have power, then, yes, they cannot make you feel inferior without your consent.

It's important to always put statements in the context of power. No society is completely flat: there are always some people with more power than others. Therefore, it is best simply to acknowledge feelings of inferiority that might arise in some contexts. Don't feel guilty or bad about yourself for having these feelings, or waste energy denying them. You can then try to move on with your life and find ways to counterattack the negativity.

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I think it's very true.  Often a person is able to really cut us with an insult about something we already felt unsure of ourselves.  For instance, a child who knows they are overweight might be hurt by a comment about overweight people.  Since they already felt insecure about this part of themselves, they are, in a sense, giving someone permission to make them feel badly about this area of their life.  If we can be secure and confident, others will not be able to make us feel insignificant or inferior.  Of course, most of us will struggle with this.  It is easy to recognize the truth of the statement, but difficult to follow its implicit advice.

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To me, this means you have control over how you react.  Of course, many of us have difficulty doing this.  We need to learn to control our emotions, but it's easier said than done.  It is true that if you decide not to let other people's actions and comments bother you, you'll be much happier!

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Insensitive remarks can hit at the core of a person's psyche, but as one grows older and wiser, he grows thicker skin, and such comments mean less and less. I always tell myself to "consider the source" in such a situation, but I know it's especially tough for younger people to shake off such insensitve remarks.

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I agree with it! There are many things in life which are beyond our control; our personal thoughts are not among them. No one can force me to think anything, especially about myself - it is my choice and decision. If I am feeling inferior in a situation, it is because I am letting myself interpret the situation in that light. I could just as easily choose to change my perspective and find an attitude that would let me feel more positive about myself.

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I like this quote! At the end of the day, if somebody tries to make us inferior, they are only successful if we allow ourselves to be made inferior. It is a choice, and we need to remember that nobody makes us inferior. What makes us inferior is how we think of ourselves. This quote challenges us to have enough self-knowledge and understanding of who we are to be able to combat the attempts of anybody else to make us feel inferior.

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Insults strike at the core of a person's emotional state. We feel humiliated because on a deep level, we're worried that some part of an insult may be true. It is possible, though difficult, to become satisfied with one's state and comfortable in one's life, and so insults will not affect you because you know they are just a negative person lashing out.

In short, if you refuse to let words hurt your feelings, you cannot be forced to feel inferior.

Sticks and stones....

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