Monday, November 12, 2012

eleanor roosevelt quotes and the belief that we actually can decide our feelings


Eleanor Roosevelt once very famously wrote, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." 

She meant that your emotions are just that - yours. You get to decide to feel them or not, and when someone makes you feel inferior, it's not because of something they did, it's because you're letting them make you feel that way. I've been living this philosophy hard the past few months (along with the Why the fuck...? philosophy) and Big Damn Surprise: The woman was right. And not just about feeling inferior.

During this past summer, when I basically spent every second I was at home with my ex anxious or despondent or downright angry, I tried everything to avoid feeling that way. I tried not going home except to sleep, I tried reconciliation with him, I tried dating other people, I tried complete celibacy (really), and I tried just making sure I had plenty of alcohol if I knew I was going to be home. When all those options didn't work (anyone surprised?), I came back to Eleanor's idea - to just fucking decide that I wasn't going to feel anxious or despondent or angry anymore.

And you know what? It worked.

Because here's the thing about emotions (and I mean emotions, not mental illness - let's get that distinction clear): After our initial reaction to a situation, we get to decide how we're going to continue to feel about it. Being angry that my ex still lived with me didn't do anything except make me miserable, so I just stopped caring. Now, when I stumble across a photographer whose portfolio gives me all sorts of jealousies, I feel that jealousy (and inferiority)... for about a second. And then I decide that instead of feeling jealous, I'm going to use it as inspiration to become a better photographer myself.

I'll be real: It isn't always easy. When my boss at my day job is yelling at me, it's really hard not to feel angry or stressed. But then I think, "You know what? I'm a barista. I refuse to feel stressed out/angry about this because, well, why the fuck would I do that?"

How much better of a place would the world be if people were less stressed out and angry about the small things? If we could all just decide to literally keep calm and carry on?

So the next time you're thinking "My job is stressing me out..." or "My boyfriend/husband is making me so angry..." Ask yourself: can they really make you feel that, or are you just letting them? Then act accordingly. And I promise to keep doing that too.

1 comment:

  1. i have seen these things on pinterest that say "my personality is me, but my attitude depends on you" and i am constantly annoyed by this, for the reasons you listed above. your emotions are only yours and whether you let something affect you or not is up to you - within reason. so yes, just yes. about the whole dang thing. that Eleanor. she's so smart.


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