"Mama, what are those people saying?" he asked.
"I don't know, son." I had to answer. "They are speaking Spanish, which is another language."
"Why don't you speak Spanish?" Zane seemed completely flabbergasted by the idea that his mother might not know everything.
"Because I am not smart enough to learn another language," I responded absentmindedly. I was thinking about the next errand on my to-do list, and that was when a voice startled me.
"Don't ever say that you're not smart enough!" I turned to find the woman behind us in line giving me a hard look. She looked very stern. "You're smart enough to do anything that you want to do."
She was bigger than me, and I wasn't sure what would happen if I disagreed. So I smiled, nodded, and said that I agreed with her. Thankfully, it was our turn to pay at the register.
But I thought very hard about what she said for the rest of the day.
If someone told me that I wasn't good enough or smart enough, my shields would go up faster than Captain Kirk could say 'Red Alert'. I would be angry. I would be right up in someone's face if they said I wasn't smart enough, glaring and belligerent, and tell them what they could do with their insults and put downs. I would under no circumstances put up with such rude behavior.
So why do I put up with it from myself? Why do I make self-deprecating remarks all the time? Thinking about it, I make at least one such statement a day, if not more. Why? To put people at ease? To make people think that I'm not as scary as they've heard?
It's not just me; I hear woman saying bad things about themselves every day. It's as though we've been conditioned to put ourselves down, and maybe we have been. Pay a woman a compliment, and nine times out of ten, she will argue with you about it, downplaying her skills and her accomplishments. Oh, this is nothing, she'll say.
Women get rewarded for behaving that way, so they think it's acceptable. It's supposed to show that you're humble? You never hear men putting themselves down. Why is that? It's time to cultivate a new habit. Instead of putting myself down, I will pull myself up. As soon as I hear something negative coming out of my mouth, I will turn it into something positive. Maybe after I hear it a few times, I'll start to believe it. Because it is true:
I am smart enough to do anything that I want to do.