STRENGTH: You are Stronger Than You Think You Are

By Sally Tippett Rains

Mae West was just the subject of a PBS documentary and it was great to learn about the larger than life bejeweled and fur-clad Hollywood Star of the 1930’s and ’40’s whose trademark line was “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime.”

She was quite a character—and one I can admire. Push away the judgment about her morals for a minute, because she did have a trashy reputation. (“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”)  And by the way if you would automatically judge her for how she lived her life then maybe it’s time to re-examine yours. People who are judging or criticizing others for not thinking or doing as they do,  are just as guilty of wrongdoing– because they, themselves are making judgements.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”—Matthew 7 NIV

mae-west-quotes-13Back to Mae West. The thing I liked about her was she knew what she wanted and she went for it. The lady was not that great looking—there were many young, beautiful stars with little tiny waste-lines during that time– yet she saw herself as beautiful and carried herself that way.

She wasn’t anything she was “supposed” to be. She was sarcastic, raunchy, full figured, she had a New York accent, she had opinions, she was 40 before she got her first movie role, she wore an abundance of gaudy jewelry and so on. But she didn’t care what others thought of her. When you become comfortable with who you are then you can gain respect for yourself and get confidence– thus becoming stronger than you think you are.

It was said that directors only wanted to direct one film with her because she pretty much “directed” the directors. Well why not, she wrote the screen plays and acted in them, and she knew what she wanted.

She might have wished she was thinner, or quieter, or sweeter—I know I’ve thought about that for myself sometimes—but she wasn’t and I’m not. You’ve got to work with what you have, and have confidence in it.

Dolly Parton is sort of a modern-day Mae West. As she rose to fame, there were those who looked down on her tight clothes and flaunting her sexuality. She used all the wrong words, opting for self-descriptive terms like “lil ole country gal.” She knew there were some who made fun of her but she just kept being the best version of herself she could and didn’t let what she perceived as other’s criticism get to her.  “I know some of the best Dolly Parton jokes,” she told film critic Roger Ebert once. “I made ’em up myself!”

dollyEarly in her career, Dolly decided she wasn’t going to be labeled or put down– she always got out ahead of people and did what she wanted and lived with it: “I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else.”

There was a famous story of how she walked away from the Porter Wagoner Show at the height of their fame as a duo. Being on the show and singing with Wagoner was a sure thing and people thought she was crazy to leave, but she wanted to do it and was strong enough to do it, because she had confidence and self-love.

Regardless of our gender, our race or our circumstances, we don’t have to be in the box people want to put us in– we just have to love ourselves enough to make our own box. Be strong enough to make your own box.

In this time when we are being bombarded about what we should do or who we should follow, we should remember first to follow God and also to follow you own heart. We can then make our own choices based on those.

“I could never love a person the way I love myself,” Mae West said when asked if she would get married again. That thinking is actually very desirable because we must first love our selves before we have enough love to give out to others.

love yourselfWhitney Houston sang about self-love, “I found the greatest love inside of me.” Unfortunately, she could sing it, but she could not do it. “No matter what they take from me, They can’t take away my dignity.” That statement is so true. No one can take away your dignity– unless you let them.  So begin to find things you love about yourself and as you do you become stronger.

Give away Love bread quoteWhen we work on ourselves and learn to love ourselves it’s like kneading dough and then setting it in a warm place. You check back and find you have a lot of it and after you bake it there’s so much more for you to share.

And also in the bread image, as with sour dough, you give your love away and more builds up inside you.

starterSourdough bread is a wonderful metaphor for love because as you gain love, you give it away, more builds up inside you.  You start out with your “starter” dough and split it up into jars, (as shown, right) nurturing it with water and flour and soon you can give that away and you each can have more to give.

The more love we have for ourselves the more love we have to give away to others. Remember to nurture your own love; be good to yourself and do things that make you proud of yourself. We take care of ourselves and in turn become stronger.

Remember one thing though. Things are always taken in different ways, so when you give out your love and it is taken wrong, that is not on you, it is on the other person. Whenever you are doing something with love in your heart, it is your action that counts; not how it is received.

Look around at the world. It seems everyone is mad and/or scared. As they say there are only two true emotions: love and fear, so if you are mad, you are probably scared of something if you look at all the layers.

How can you overcome your fear, anxiety or anger? Be more like Mae West.

“Every man I meet wants to protect me,” she said. “I can’t figure out what from.”

Male or female, let’s try to be so brave we don’t need someone to save us. Let’s be our own hero, During a time when our leaders sometimes seem to be failing us and our fellow man (and woman) seems to be disappointing us, we don’t need someone to run to. We can be our own hero.

We can be stronger than we ever thought we could be. Mae West worked in Hollywood yet she didn’t smoke or drink or go to all the fancy Hollywood parties. She never succumbed to temptations (there you go judging again—she didn’t succumb to those temptations, she chose them and there is a difference).

I will always choose the high, moral road; the one that leads towards the light—but I will try not to judge others for the roads they choose. I will try to love them through it.

When she was negotiating her contract for a film she once asked a director “How much do you make?” and when he told her, she said, “Well then I want to make a dollar more.”

No matter who you are you are just as good as anyone else—maybe even a dollar’s worth better. You are worth it; you are worthy, you matter. You are a child of God so shine brightly my friend.

Choose Happy. Find Contentment.

Bible Verse

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continuously.”  — I Chronicles: 16:11


“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”  — Mae West

Action Plan

Whenever you find yourself in a weakened state think about how you can get your strength back. Think of one thing that is really just getting you down and look at the following questions. Some people do better with a notebook and writing things down, some just like seeing the question and thinking about it.

  1. Is this something I can control? And if yes, what are some ways I can control it? If no, then why am I experiencing it?
  2. Do I deserve what is happening to me? Is it my fault? Most probably it is NOT your fault so how can you start believing in yourself instead of beating yourself up.
  3. While I am going through this, am I living the type of life I want? Is this the type of person I want to be? If you see areas you can make positive changes, then write them down or think of them and consider doing it.
  4. Is this feeling new or have I felt this way before? If you find yourself in a pattern try to figure out what the problem is. “I lost weight and then I just binged” – know about this ahead of time and try to avoid it or just take control right now and stop eating sugar or white flour, or drinking too much, or whatever it is that is causing you to have a downward slide. “I always go for the wrong man”—figure out what you don’t like about them and be proactive on your next relationship.
  5. Think of three ways you CAN be stronger than you thought you could. Get out of your comfort zone and try something.

One More Thought

Don’t ever regret anything and don’t feel guilty. We all make our choices and we should stick by them if the decision was the best we could make at the time. If you perceive others are making you feel guilty about a situation, it’s on you if you let them. No one can make us feel guilty except ourselves. Sometimes we think someone is saying something to make us feel guilty when really they aren’t. There are tones we use or things we think we hear. Let’s just stop judging everyone and try to see the love in our hearts.

I posted this on Facebook this week: You want some motivation today? Just remember no one or no thing can “own” you unless you choose to let it happen– men don’t own women, women don’t own men, political parties don’t own us, other people’s perception of how we should be shouldn’t own us, guilt or regret shouldn’t have the power to own us, how people treat us (now or in the past) shouldn’t “own” us– and COVID-19 doesn’t own us. We have the choice as to how we are going to look at things. Let’s choose happy and own it.  #ChooseHappyFindContentment

Sally Tippett Rains is the author of Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation.

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