Boots with Straps Long Enough to Strangle Frauds

Image result for bootstraps

We have a strong cultural identity as Americans to each has the intrinsic ability to be our own best advocates. If something is a challenge, it is to be conquered. If adversity rears its head, it’s only a matter of self-determination to persevere. When life knocks you down, you just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

In a world where perception and judgment are completely absent, the above scenarios can be successful. However, ours is not a world where we are allowed to go about our days without making perceptions and/or judgments of our own or being the direct object of others’ perceptions and/or judgments. As social animals, we are both blessed and cursed with living within a society; we equally need and reject all the trappings of biological and constructed togetherness.

What got me thinking about this duality was this quote:

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

Ex. When Sally shows you she is generous (in her offering half of her PB&J), Bill should believe that Sally is–by way of personality–a generous person.

Ms. Angelou’s words do not encapsulate the colloquialism of “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Why not? That pithy axiom of our culture comes to us through the lens of the one trying to be believed, rather than from the perspective of the one making the observation.

Ex. Sally does not know Bill. Sally wants to be regarded as generous by Bill. When given a chance to be regarded as generous, Sally hands over half of her PB&J to him. The first impression Sally made was successful: Bill now regards Sally as generous.

See the difference? Of course, Angelou’s advice is based on the underlying assumption that Sally wasn’t faking her generosity in order to trick Bill into thinking she was generous, but rather that Sally “shows” who she is, and who Sally is is generous.

But what about the flip of Angelou’s idea?

“When someone tells you who you are, disbelieve them every time.” ~ Jenna Brownson

(Side note: I feel confident in attributing that quote to me as a Google search for that quote yielded “No results found for “When someone tells you who you are, disbelieve them every time.”)

One of the most challenging parts of becoming who you truly are is to put aside the perspectives and valuations of you made by others. You must reject the labels and the assignments of descriptors attached to you by others–no matter how complimented or insulted their words make you feel.

You are the expert of you, no one else. So the next time someone gives your ego a positive stroke or a near-fatal blow, remember:

“When someone tells you who you are, disbelieve them every time.” ~ Jenna Brownson

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