I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.


I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it. – Maya Angelou

The owner of this diploma was sent home. But she didn't allow it to reduce her to the status of a failure. She went back and finished.

The owner of this diploma was sent home. But she didn’t allow what happened to her to reduce her self-image to that of a failure. She went back and finished. Congratulations!

What does that mean?
Things happen in life. Some of those things change our path in life. Some of them even change our lives. These changes could be for the better, or they could be for the worse. But that’s life.

That is what I believe the first part of the quote is about. The second part of the quote talks about how we react to that event. It says that no matter what happens, we can refused to be reduced, or made less, by it.

We can choose how we react. We can choose to respond or to ignore what has just happened. The quote urges us to stand firm and not allow what happened to us to make us any less than we were before it happened.

Why is being resolute important?  
This is kind of an old-fashioned word, not too often heard outside of legal or historical circles. TheFreeDictionary.com defines resolute as “Firm or determined; unwavering.” This is why proclamations and laws usually say something like “Be it resolved that…”

They are saying that they are determined and unwilling to yield. After all, who would obey a law which started by saying “We think it would be kind of nice if you would please …”? Would you?

I believe we must be as well. Not in everything nor on every issue, as that has a different name (usually named after a particularly stubborn or dim animal). There is, as usual, a middle ground between too much and too little.

By being resolute, we remain committed to who we are, even if life throws a curve our way. Even if our hopes are dashed or our plans fail in a spectacular manner. We are still who we were before the event, we just have to learn from it, and continue forward with our lives.

Where can I apply this in my life?
When it comes to ourselves, our self-worth and our self-image, we cannot let outside influences dictate what we think of ourselves. We cannot let those events reduce or diminish us as people, as human beings, or as a group.

There have been a few events in my life which could have really made a mess out of my self-esteem or self-worth. But I refused to allow these events reduce or diminish me in any way shape or form. It wasn’t always easy, nor was it much fun, but I persevered.

When I was in school, I was asked to take a semester off to re-evaluate my life and it’s direction. That could have been a crushing blow, but I didn’t let it reduce me. I refused to consider myself as a “looser” and I applied myself. I got back in, and graduated, proving my worth.

I’ve lost a few jobs in my time, due to economic cycles. These things happen, and I didn’t let these events to reduce me. I know how and why these things happen, and I know how to get hired when things pick back up. I also lay some money aside for the next time.

I have also been divorced. That can be a real painful blow, but I didn’t allow it to reduce me. I understood what happened, and I learned from the experience. I became stronger and more competent than I could have in any other way. I allowed the experience to enhance me, rather than reduce me.

We all go through rough times, and it can be hard to continue holding our heads high. Sometimes it hits us close to home. Imagine having an identity of “breadwinner” and losing a job? Imagine having the identity of “expertly competent” and failing badly and publicly?

If you define yourself as something and something happens, it is a big hit, isn’t it? That is when you need to separate what you like to do or what you are good at doing, from who you really are. You are not your job. You are not your core competency. You are far more than that.

With that bit of pre-framing, grab some paper and write down how you would describe yourself, mostly by listing the key parts of your life. Take a moment and write down at least a half dozen items. Are you a good cook? Are you a good driver? What are you?

Now take a moment and look at the list. How would a good driver react to getting a ticket or being involved in an accident? Is that really a good description of who you are, or is it part of your skill set?

How many of your list of items are skills or things you do? Even things like “good husband” is a skill set. And how would that identity fare if there was a serious fight or even a divorce?

That is why I think it would be better to describe yourself in another way. If something happened, how would you avoid being reduced by it? How would you keep your self-worth and self-esteem? Consider that question for each of the items on your list.

Hopefully you have a few ideas regarding how you could best weather an event in your life which was less than favorable. Hopefully you are now more resolute, more determined and unwilling to yield to remain true to yourself, and not be reduced by the event.

From: Twitter, @NetworkerMK
confirmed at : http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7980-i-can-be-changed-by
Photo by Sarah Stierch

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in choice, dignity, failure, goals, self-image, struggle and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.

  1. My eyebrow raised when you mentioned divorce. I got divorced 1-1/2-years ago (after 28-years of marriage) and found it to be the most liberating moment of my life. Not only did I only get my self-esteem back but also the confidence to do what I always wanted to do with my life. The calling, the one gift I knew was inside me and screaming to come out. It is sad, after a divorce, how you suddenly realize what it was that was keeping you down and trying to limit your potential. Although I never failed at financial stability, it was that creative calling that had been restrained on the other side of the rainbow.

    Finding yourself through an unfortunate event or maybe even after decades of suppression is manageable and not impossible. In that 1-1/2 year time period, I’ve resurrected that gift and have had quick success with it. Like I wrote in a recent post: “The only thing we have to fear about time itself…is if we let it run out!” Don’t let time run out on rescuing yourself.

    • philosiblog says:

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words.

      Yeah, divorce isn’t fun. Even if you want out (which I did), it can be hard to separate the failure of the marriage and yourself as a failure. But in the process of working through it, I learned so much about myself. It was an amazing time, and as painful as it was, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if it wasn’t for the learning experience I went through as I recovered from the hurt and pain.

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