No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

These were the well-known words uttered by Eleanor Roosevelt: A former First Lady of the United States.

However, implementing these words is more difficult than it sounds.

We cannot entirely control how others perceive us. However, we are responsible for how they treat us. The way that people respond to us is influenced by their perceptions of us. Their perceptions are also informed by their world views and belief systems. Human beings are most likely to adopt opinions  which favour them and make them feel superior. They in turn believe in their supremacy over others because of their own biases and distorted beliefs.

You are probably wondering how we give consent for others to mistreat us. Let’s take for an example where Person A is emotionally abusive to Person B. Person A says all sorts of insults towards Person B. Person B never addresses the insults or the manner in which they are spoken to. The lack of response and communication towards these insults is what makes Person A continue his behaviour. What we allow will always continue. In instances where a person is passive towards someone who makes them feel inferior, that person is giving consent. The Oxford English dictionary describes consent as, “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something”.

Confrontation is the best way to alter people’s behaviour towards you. When you confront someone, you are showing them that you are bold enough to stand up for yourself. You can, with courage and conviction,  tell the person to not speak to you in a specific tone or with insults.

Although we can truly change other people’s behaviour towards us, this may be difficult for people who live in societies which have systems in place that marginalize and make others inferior. In such instances, it may be extremely difficult and dangerous to confront someone who thinks they are superior.