Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm not sure I agree with Eleanor.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent, Eleanor Roosevelt said.

You have to let someone hurt you. Ergo, if you're sad because somebody said something you didn't like, it's definitely your fault. Dummy. (Man, she was harsh.) We've all heard that. Seems like it would be easy to just avoid getting hurt then, right? Don't let people hurt you. You control it. You control your reaction. Why does anybody let things get to them then? Why not just brush off the comments, keep things surface level and avoid the hurt?

We need it. That depth. The depth that makes life good. The vulnerability. That's why. For a relationship to mean anything, you have to value the other person's words. You let them have a little piece of your heart, and you hope they will take it and keep it safe. You want to trust that their opinion matters. Otherwise when they said I love you or I'm proud of you or I liked your short story, that wouldn't matter either. It would be nothing.

E's words hold more power for me than anyone else's. His opinion means more in my book, and things like you're right or that sounds like a good plan or this lasagna is really tasty can really make me feel great. Positive assessments of my worth. Not the only measures by which I decide how I do in life, but hopefully a true assessment of my actions by someone who knows me better than anybody else.

Sometimes I'd rather not take his assessment of me as truth, though. When he's critical, when that criticism is personal or of something beyond my control. What then? Because I can't say he's full of crap. I hope he's not--I wanted to believe the good stuff. But I also have to hold myself in enough esteem to believe I'm enough, regardless of what he thinks.

My problem is that I don't know how to turn it off, that part of me that wants his approval. Even when I know he's wrong, or at least that I disagree, it's hard to shield myself from the sting of criticism. I'm conflicted. I know in my heart that I'm better than I've ever been, yet I still let myself feel awful because of some words.

In this case, I'm not sure I agree with Eleanor Roosevelt.

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