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Self

  • I am a restlessness inside a stillness inside a restlessness.

  • ... a biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may well have as many as a thousand.

  • Will not a tiny speck very close to our vision blot out the glory of the world and leave only a margin by which we see the blot? I know no speck so troublesome as self.

  • ... living for oneself is a bad thing. The keenest intellectual pleasure comes from being able to return to the self after being absent from it for a spell. But living all the time inside the self, that most tyrannical, demanding and capricious of companions — no, one shouldn't do it.

    • George Sand,
    • 1872, in Francis Steegmuller and Barbara Bray, eds., Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence ()
  • ... Self is the narrowest of countries, and its boundaries are soon reached.

  • Much of me was twisted and buried, and turned in upon itself, as a tangled skein of wool, to which the end had been lost.

    • Mary Barnes,
    • in Mary Barnes and Joseph Berke, Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness ()
  • In leaving Hollywood and coming to New York, I feel I can be more myself. After all, if I can't be myself, what's the good of being anything at all?

  • Everybody must learn this lesson somewhere — that it costs something to be what you are.

  • I didn't learn for years that you generally find your Self after you quit looking for it.

  • ... she's just been pointed one way all her life, and going one way, and now she's getting nearer the end of the road, she's pointed sharper and she's going faster.

  • Life, though it is short, is very long, and contains so much. And one does not, to one's consciousness, change as one's outward appearance and capabilities do. Doesn't Mrs. Somerville say that, so far from feeling old, she was not always quite certain (up in the seventies) whether she was quite grown up!

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Mrs. Harry Coghill, ed., The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant ()
  • When I was eleven I stopped dreaming the dreams that didn't come true, I stopped talking to people who didn't listen, I lost hope and I retreated. I assumed that the root of the problem was that I was too strange for the real world. That being the case, I created a charming and dynamic personality to make the necessary forays into the Outside, and I kept my strangeness for myself; my own peculiar jewels under lock and key.

  • The world is my asylum. I am called upon daily to perform miracles and absolutions. I am the priestess and the committee, the prison and the garden, and the patients are all me.

  • It's a hell of a thing to be born, and if you're born you're at least entitled to your own self.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Deborah G. Felder, The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time ()
  • The word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory. The sacred word: EGO.

  • ... the process of building a self and its works is always too slow. One is always in arrears to oneself.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Under the Sign of Saturn," in The New York Review of Books ()
  • I was right not to be afraid of any thief but myself, who will end by leaving me nothing.

  • One always, sooner or later, comes upon a city which is an image of one's inner cities. Fez is an image of my inner self. ... The layers of the city of Fez are like the layers and secrecies of the inner life. One needs a guide. ... There were in Fez, as in my life, streets which led nowhere, impasses which remained a mystery.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1936, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • Is devotion to others a cover for the hungers and the needs of the self, of which one is ashamed? I was always ashamed to take. So I gave. It was not a virtue. It was a disguise.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1945, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 4 ()
  • The self is merely the lens through which we see others and the world ...

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • in Philip K. Jason, ed., The Anaïs Nin Reader ()
  • 'You certainly are not yourself to-day.' 'I so seldom am,' said Cecilia.

  • I swear that each of us keeps, battened down inside himself, a sort of lunatic giant — impossible socially, but full-scale — and that it's the knockings and batterings we sometimes hear in each other that keeps our intercourse from utter banality.

  • I am I because my little dog knows me.

  • ... in search of my mother's garden, I found my own.

    • Alice Walker,
    • title essay (1974), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • ... I'm the kind of woman that likes to enjoy herselves in peace.

  • Turning into my own / turning on into my own self at last.

  • It's a little mad, but I believe I am many people. When I am writing a poem, I feel I am the person who should have written it.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • in George Plimpton, ed., Writers at Work, vol 4. ()
  • ... I am not at home in myself. I am my own stranger.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1964, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • But I warn you ... I am only really myself when I'm somebody else whom I have endowed with these wonderful qualities from my imagination.

  • Ourself behind ourself concealed / Should startle most.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, eds., Poems, 2nd series ()
  • I'm Nobody! Who are you? / Are you — Nobody — Too? / Then there's a pair of us? / Don't tell! they'd advertise — you know.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1861, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • I don't think a person should take herself seriously unless she is alone.

  • ... it takes a lot of rehearsal to become yourself.

  • ... it is rather depressing to think that one will still be oneself when one is dead, but I dare say one won't be so critical then.

  • ... I'm not real — Oh make me real — you are all of you real!

    • Clover Adams,
    • 1886, in Natalie Dykstra, Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life ()
  • ... no one can accomplish the inner release of another person. Freedom can be offered but it must also be accepted in order for it to 'take.'

  • If my work is to be good, / I must transcend skill, I must master mood. / For the expression of the rare thing in me, / Is not in do, but deeper, in to be.

  • I would give up my life for my children, but not myself.

  • Who you are depends on who you meet.

  • ... the idea came to me that I was, am, and will be, but perhaps will not become. This did not scare me. There was for me in being an intensity I did not feel in becoming.

  • ... even when nothing is happening, nothing stands still. ... I am not a rock, but a river; people deceive themselves by seeing me as a rock. Or is it I who deceive them and pretend that I am a rock when I am a river?

  • The emancipation of women is practically the greatest egoistic movement of the nineteeth century, and the most intense affirmation of the right of the self that history has yet seen.

  • My life has been one great big joke, / A dance that's walked / A song that's spoke, / I laugh so hard I almost choke / When I think about myself.

    • Maya Angelou,
    • "When I Think About Myself," Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ... 'Fore I Diiie ()
  • One must accept the fact that we have only one companion in this world, a companion who accompanies us from the cradle to the grave — our own self. Get on good terms with that companion — learn to live with yourself.

  • Do any of us understand ourselves? all the different selves that each of us is?

  • What you were yesterday is fixed for always, making its mark on what you are today, what you will be tomorrow.

  • ... I am not at all the sort of person you and I took me for ...

    • Jane Welsh Carlyle,
    • letter to Thomas Carlyle (1822), in Alan and Mary McQueen Simpson, eds., I Too Am Here ()
  • Many of our problems with anger occur when we choose between having a relationship and having a self.

  • The woman took a train / away from herself. / She thought: I need a change / and wheels make revolutions.

  • Ah! if only there were two of me, one who spoke and the other who listened, one who lived and the other who watched, how I would love myself! I'd envy no one.

  • These have been weeks when no one / calls me by name, and this is very simple: / The parrot in the kitchen of my house / has not yet learned it. / People the breadth of the city / don't know it. / It has no voice, no sound or note. / Days. I go without a name / in the street whose name I know. / I sit for hours without a name / before the tree whose name I know. / Sometimes I think without a name / of him whose name I don't know.

  • I meet myself every so often. 'You hideous old baggage,' I say, and I nod. For years I thought it was someone else.

  • An 'I' without a body is a possibility. But a body without an 'I' is utterly impossible.

  • The self is every person's true enemy.

    • Ding Ling,
    • "Miss Sophia's Diary" (1927), in I Myself Am a Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling ()
  • Penetrate deeply into the secret existence of anyone about you, even of the man or woman whom you count happiest, and you will come upon things they spend all their efforts to hide. Fair as the exterior may be, if you go in, you will find bare places, heaps of rubbish that can never be taken away, cold hearths, desolate altars, and windows veiled with cobwebs.

  • It was on that road and at that hour that I first became aware of my own self, experienced an inexpressible state of grace, and felt one with the first breath of air that stirred, the first bird, and the sun so newly born that it still looked not quite round.

  • One is what one remembers: no more, no less.

  • ... the most important thing any person can do is to get out of the light. Get out of his own light, I mean. Most of the time we let our shadows block off the sun. It takes so much not-doing to accomplish anything.

  • It was not at all true that everyone was alike underneath. Deep down, deep deep down, we live in a buried Tower of Babel, intelligible only to ourselves. If that.

  • We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other peoples' models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open.

  • Because I alone of all the world can understand and pity myself, I am God. I alone of all the world can offer equality to myself.

  • I am less than one. / More than two. I laugh / at the ways to count a person.

  • No sooner do we think we have assembled a comfortable life than we find a piece of ourselves that has no place to fit in.

  • ... there are public lives, personal lives, and private lives. The public life is the one everyone sees in your daily routine, the personal one you reveal to your family and closest friends, but your private life, that's just what you know about yourself, what you hide from everyone else.

  • Perhaps the rare and simple pleasure of being seen for what one is compensates for the misery of being it.

  • There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.

  • The worst things weren't outside of you.

  • You're always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.

  • Man is wise ... when he recognizes no greater enemy than himself.

  • In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness ...

  • She was her own currency ...

  • 'He's not himself at all today,' Mr. Somerset told me. People say that about Jeremy quite often, but what they mean is that he is not like other people. He is always himself. That's what's wrong with him.

  • Perhaps it was not to be wondered at if Mr. Rickman had not yet found himself. There were, as he sorrowfully reflected, so many Mr. Rickmans.

  • If what I am watching evaporated before my eyes, I would remain.

  • I have no home but me.

  • Isn't it strange / That however I change, / I still keep on being me?

    • Eve Merriam,
    • "Me, Myself and I," Rainbow Writing ()
  • It turns out that our notions of what a 'self' is and how it might feel fulfilled have no more objective status than most of the rest of reality. It seems we make ourselves up as we go along.

    • Maureen O'Hara,
    • speech, Association for Humanistic Psychology Conference ()
  • If you keep changing for every person who tells you to, then who's going to be left? Why get the success and be somebody else?

  • ... within that ageing outer shell we remain very much the same as we did in our late teens and early twenties.

  • We never wholly shed anything that we have ever been.

  • Every time I deny myself I commit a kind of suicide.

  • My 'awakened dreams' are about shifts. Thought shifts, reality shifts, gender shifts: one person metamorphoses into another in a world where people fly through the air, heal from mortal wounds. I am playing with my Self, I am playing with the world's soul, I am the dialogue between my Self, and el espirítu del mundo. I change myself, I change the world.

  • And we find at the end of a perfect day, / The soul of a friend we've made.

  • Might we not say to the confused voices which sometimes arise from the depths of our being, 'Ladies, be so kind as to speak only four at a time'?

  • I take pleasure in my 'transformation.' I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.

  • ... how to divide ourselves fairly between ourselves and the rest of the world is the hardest question we ever have to answer.

  • I am the spring the holy ground / I am the seed of mystery / the thorn the veil the face of grace / the brazen image the thief of sleep / the ambassador of dreams / the prince of peace.

    • Patti Smith,
    • "Easter," Patti Smith Complete 1975-2006 ()
  • 'You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?' Aunty Ifeka said. 'Your life belongs to you and you alone.'

  • ... the majority of the neurons in your brain today are as old as you are. This longevity of the neurons partially accounts for why we feel pretty much the same on the inside at the age of ten as we do at age thirty or seventy-seven. The cells in our brain are the same, but over time their connections change based upon their/our experience.

  • Whoever you are when you are seven years old is where you stay.

    • Leah Adler,
    • in Mariana Cook, Mothers and Sons ()
  • I did not survive everything. No one ever does. Little pieces of you — sometimes the best of you — get lost in a little lie here, a little joke there. And of course, the aftereffect is the tiny sob — unseen, unheard, deeply felt.

  • You can't change the music of your soul.

  • I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

  • Your private relationship with yourself is a spring that will feed every other factor.

  • My dressing mirror is a humpbacked cat. / Continuously my image changes ...

    • Jung Tzu,
    • "My Dressing Mirror Is a Humpbacked Cat," in Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, trans., eds., The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China ()
  • All my life, my political and social and spiritual selves have all moved together. I just could not separate them.

  • We are new every day.

  • ... I'm not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I've gotten from books.

    • Anonymous,
    • in Beatrice Sparks, Go Ask Alice ()
  • ... no one in a group of three is the same person he (she, it) is in a group of two. No more than he is the same in a group of two as he is alone.

    • Rose Wilder Lane,
    • 1928, in William Holtz, ed., Dorothy Thompson and Rose Wilder Lane: Forty Years of Friendship ()
  • The only proper mask to wear in life is your own damn face.

  • Perhaps I am no one. / True, I have a body / and I cannot escape from it. / I would like to fly out of my head, / but that is out of the question. / It is written on the table of destiny / that I am stuck here in this human form. / That being the case / I would like to call attention to my problem.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "The Poet of Ignorance," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • Sometimes you need to let go of the person you think you are, in order to become the person you are meant to be.

  • 'I'm not myself' ... 'You can never say that. You're just a piece of yourself right now that you don't like.'

  • Living things tend to change unrecognizably as they grow. Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant? Flora or fauna, we are all shape-shifters and magic reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.

  • To live with the terrible truths about ourselves is the only way of not living them out. A need denied has infinitely more power than a need accepted.

  • Self-affirmation cannot be found in love; it is a prior condition of genuine love.

  • Might I be the one I am looking for?

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • Love of others is the appreciation of one's self.

    • Mina Loy,
    • "Aphorisms on Futurism" (1914), in Roger L. Conover, ed., The Lost Lunar Baedecker ()
  • Don't you love nobody better'n you do yo'self. Do, you'll be dying befo' yo' time is out.

  • In so far as one denies what is, one is possessed by what is not, the compulsions, the fantasies, the terrors that flock to fill the void.

  • We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.

  • Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

  • Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself.

  • For the possibilities of being different from what one is are infinite. Once one has negated oneself, however, there are no longer any particular choices.

  • I am not just a lesbian. I am not just a poet. I am not just a mother. Honor the complexity of your vision and yourselves.

  • ... it's perfectly possible to hate one's fat and to love one's body at the same time.

  • I love what I cannot be / as well as what I am.

  • We do not accept ourselves for what we are, we retreat from our real selves, and then we erect a personality to bridge the gap.

  • Your thorns are the best part of you.

  • All that matters / is to be in step / with one's self.

  • One must accept the fact that we have only one companion in this world, a companion who accompanies us from the cradle to the grave — our own self. Get on good terms with that companion — learn to live with yourself.

  • Self-affection is the real dwelling to which we must always return with a view to a faithfulness to ourselves and an ability to welcome the other as different.

  • There are three things I commit to on a daily basis: Exercising for an hour a day, tops. Never skipping meals. And accepting the size and shape I was born with.

    • Paula Abdul,
    • in Tina Schwager and Michele Schuerger, The Right Moves: A Girl's Guide to Getting Fit and Feeling Good ()
  • ... my trouble / is that I have the spirit of Gertrude Stein / but the personality of Alice B. Toklas ...

  • Learning to live with what you're born with / is the process, / the involvement, / the making of a life.

    • Diane Wakoski,
    • "I Have Had to Learn to Live With My Face," The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems ()
  • And I have not learned happily / to live with my face.

    • Diane Wakoski,
    • "I Have Had to Learn to Live With My Face," The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems ()
  • It is curious how believable I can be when I criticize myself, how unconvincing when I give myself praise.

  • Until we can tolerate our own company, we cannot expect other people to be overjoyed by our presence.

  • What a desire! ... to live in peace with that word: Myself.

  • ... when I'm trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.

  • Self-acceptance begets acceptance from others, which begets even deeper, more genuine self-acceptance. It can be done. But no one is going to bestow it on you. It is a gift only you can give yourself.

  • During much of my life, I was anxious to be what someone else wanted me to be. Now I have given up that struggle. I am what I am.

  • I am what I am.

    • Rosario Morales,
    • poem title, in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have.

  • ... the best-adjusted people are the 'psychologically patriotic,' who are glad to be what they are.

  • There's a point, around age twenty . . . when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.

  • Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

  • Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor ()
  • how you love yourself is / how you teach others / to love you.

  • In order to be chosen, you must choose yourself first.

  • If you have got a living force and you're not using it, nature kicks you back. The blood boils just like you put it in a pot.

  • To mature is in part to realize that while complete intimacy and omniscience and power cannot be had, self-transcendence, growth, and closeness to others are nevertheless within one's reach.

  • ... one is never got out of the cave, one comes out of it.

  • I want, by understanding myself, to understand others. I want to be all that I am capable of becoming ...

  • Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life — it gave me me. It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life. ... I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I could be.

  • There are some people whom we envy not because they are rich or handsome or successful, although they may be all or any of these, but because everything they are or do seems to be all of a piece, so that even if they wanted to they could not be or do otherwise.

  • The most comprehensive formulation of therapeutic goals is the striving for wholeheartedness: to be without pretense, to be emotionally sincere, to be able to put the whole of oneself into one's feelings, one's work, one's beliefs.

  • I do not want to die ... until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown.

    • Käthe Kollwitz,
    • 1915, in Hans Kollwitz, ed., The Diaries and Letters of Käthe Kollwitz ()
  • For the integrated human being there is no past: there is only the continual transformation of original experience.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "Toward a Definition of the Female Sensibility," Essays in Feminism ()
  • A self-realized person will accentuate the positives — medicate the negatives.

  • You can waste your life drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.

  • It is not easy to be sure that being yourself is worth the trouble, but we do know it is our sacred duty.

  • First, I'm trying to prove to myself that I'm a person. Then maybe I'll convince myself that I'm an actress.

    • Marilyn Monroe,
    • in Gloria Steinem, "The Woman Who Died Too Soon," Ms. ()
  • ... each time that I have run away — and from a habit it quickly became an illness — I have betrayed someone. Myself, but not always only myself.

  • No one betrays us as much in our lives as we betray ourselves.

  • How much of my true self I camouflage and choke in order to commend myself to him, denying the fullness of me. How often have I paraded sweetness and interest when I felt otherwise; pretended to take careful leave of him on many an occasion when I would rather have walked right out. How I've toned myself down, diluted myself to maintain his approval.

  • I was willing to pay any price including subservience to secure this love, hoping that with each piece of myself I gave up he would be so pleased that he, too, would be transformed.

  • Too often when I am with other people I hand over my freedom and values as if they are the price of admission to companionship. I expect others to be as harsh with me as the critic living in my mind — the critic with my mother's voice.

  • Humiliation is a guest that only comes to those who have made ready his resting-place, and will give him a fair welcome. ... no one can disgrace you save yourself.

  • I saw one of the absolute truths of this world: each person is worrying about himself; no one is worrying about you. He or she is worrying about whether you like him, not whether he likes you. He is worrying about whether he looks prepossessing, not whether you are dressed correctly. He is worrying about whether he appears poised, not whether you are. He is worrying about whether you think well of him, not whether he thinks well of you. The way to be yourself ... is to forget yourself.

  • The next voice you hear will undoubtedly be your own.

  • It was hard to communicate with you. You were always communicating with yourself. The line was busy.

  • 'I thought we talked things out!' 'Yes, and you listened very carefully to every word you had to say.'

  • ... egoism is in general the malady of the aged; ... we become occupied with our own existence in proportion as it ceases to be interesting to others.

  • There are characters which are continually creating collisions and nodes for themselves in dramas which nobody is prepared to act with them.

  • He talked to her of himself, always of himself. Why not? He talked so well!

  • Gordon was his own world, and nothing that concerned anyone else was important to him, and nothing that touched him unimportant.

  • The affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will live as one of the prettiest love stories in all literature.

  • That woman ... would use the third-rising of a corpse for her ends.

  • She was one of the most unimportantly wicked women of her time — because she could not let her time alone, and yet could never be a part of it. She wanted to be the reason for everything and so was the cause of nothing.

  • She had no tolerance for scenes which were not of her own making ...

  • He was always willing to be the text of his own oratory.

  • The conversation of selfish people is often far more amusing than that of the unselfish, who see things too diffusedly, and who have not, as a rule, the gift of vivid description. Mrs. Palmer was deeply, deeply interested in her own various feelings.

  • Only a very small percentage can regard conditions from any but a selfish point of view or conceive of any but their own shoe-pinch.

  • The only people whose mainspring is not egotism are the dead ...

  • He was talking at the top of his ego ...

  • ... it hath been a long and true observation, that every one had rather speak than listen to what another says; insomuch as for the most part all mankind run from company to company, not to learn, but to talk, and like bells their tongues as the clappers keep a jangling noise all at once, without method or distinction.

    • Margaret Cavendish,
    • Duchess of Newcastle, epistle, Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancies Pencil to the Life ()
  • ... Annabel, who frequently confused her dramatic instinct with her emotion, derived not a little pleasure from making a scene.

  • ... Emily heard a great deal of conversation, of which conceit was the canvas, while flattery laid on the colors.

  • We have no patriotism toward posterity; and the selfish amusement of the present always has, and always will, outweigh the important interests of the future ...

  • ... he who seeks pleasure with reference to himself, not others, will ever find that pleasure is only another name for discontent.

    • L.E. Landon,
    • "The Enchantress," The Book of Beauty ()
  • The truth is, we never make for others the allowance we make for ourselves; and we should deny even our own words, could we hear them spoken by another.

  • The lover and the physician are each popular from the same cause — we talk to them of nothing but ourselves ...

  • She invents dramas in which she always stars.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1931, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1931, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • Introspection is a devouring monster.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1936, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 3 ()
  • ... she longed to occupy people's fancies, speculations and thoughts.

  • Modern neurosis began with the discoveries of Copernicus. Science made man feel small by showing him that the earth was not the center of the universe.

  • In men this blunder still you find, / All think their little set — mankind.

    • Hannah More,
    • "Florio" (1786), The Works of Hannah More, vol. 1 ()
  • 'Won't that be delightful?' said she, twitching my arm, rather roughly, by way of recalling my attention, which however had seldom wandered.

  • Everywhere there was somewhere and everywhere there they were men women children dogs cows wild pigs little rabbits cats lizards and animals. That is the way it was. And everybody dogs cats sheep rabbits and lizards and children all wanted to tell ... all about themselves.

  • ... no one can return to the place he has left, only to the place it has become. Some subconscious and idiotic ego, he supposed, made one imagine that nothing happened except in the place where one was.

  • It's no wonder human beings are so narcissistic. The way our ears are constructed, we can hear only what is right next to us or else the internal monologue inside.

  • Nothing's done well when it's done out of self-interest.

  • It is possible that an individual may be successful, largely because he conserves all his powers for individual achievement and does not put any of his energy into the training which will give him the ability to act with others. The individual acts promptly, and we are dazzled by his success while only dimly conscious of the inadequacy of his code.

    • Jane Addams,
    • "Industrial Amelioration," Democracy and Social Ethics ()
  • We are so fond of hearing ourselves spoken of, that, be it good or ill, it is still pleasing.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1671, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 1 ()
  • What is a total mind / Fixed in a total state / But that which denies surprise / And thinks itself its fate.

  • Two loves has she and both of them are herself.

  • At times ... one is downright thankful for the self-absorption of other people.

  • He could not read more than a few consecutive sentences in any book or newspaper unless they referred immediately to himself or his interests.

  • People in the world pay little heed to reason where their own interests are involved.

    • Teresa of Avila,
    • 1576, in E. Allison Peers, ed., The Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus, vol. 1 ()
  • She had a tremendous impatience with other people's ideas — unless those happened to be exactly like hers; even then, often as not, she gave a hurried, almost angry, affirmative, and flew on to emphatic illuminations of her own.

  • No privileged order ever did see the wrongs of its own victims ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • speech (1867), in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 2 ()
  • The trouble with Clare was not only that she wanted to have her cake and eat it too but that she wanted to nibble at the cakes of other folk as well.

    • Nella Larsen,
    • "Passing" (1929), An Intimation of Things Distant ()
  • ... the best thing for everyone concerned ... is what people always say when they have arranged something exclusively to suit themselves.

  • Every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost.

  • ... what might once have been called whining is now exalted as a process of asserting selfhood; self-absorption is regarded as a form of self-expression ...

  • Egotism — usually just a case of mistaken nonentity.

  • I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty ... But I am too busy thinking about myself.

  • ... a personality devoted uniquely to its own development absorbs other lives.

    • Georgette Leblanc,
    • 1898, in Janet Flanner, trans., Souvenirs: My Life With Maeterlinck ()
  • You can't see the world through a mirror.

  • You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you.

  • Self-absorption is different from self-love.

  • What nonsense it is, this desire to be without limitations, this wish always to be seen in the most flattering light. We are anxious, not because we think so little of ourselves, but because we think so much of ourselves. We are anxious, not that we may appear in the worst light, but that we may not appear in the best light. Anxiety is born of self-consciousness, and it is alleviated to the exact extent that we can drop consciousness of the self.

  • I saw one of the absolute truths of this world: each person is worrying about himself; no one is worrying about you. He or she is worrying about whether you like him, not whether he likes you. He is worrying about whether he looks prepossessing, not whether you are dressed correctly. He is worrying about whether he appears poised, not whether you are. He is worrying about whether you think well of him, not whether he thinks well of you. The way to be yourself ... is to forget yourself.

  • The desire to be the object of public attention is weak, but the excessive dread of it is but a form of vanity and over-self-contemplativeness.

  • In connection with death, or birth, or love, modesty is only a rather puerile self-consciousness.

  • Sometimes I pose, but sometimes I pose as posing.

  • People would worry a lot less about what other people think of them if they realized how infrequently they do!

  • Sneezes ... always sound much louder to the sneezer than to the hearers. It is an acoustical peculiarity.

  • Shyness is I-ness. Shyness is really wondering if you have other people's approval.

  • I do not like to employ secretaries that have more wit than myself. I am afraid to make them write all my nonsense.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1676, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 4 ()
  • I can't quite summon up the nerve / To bare my pale, imperfect torso, / Till all around me I observe / Shapes like mine — or even more so!

  • If you think back over your experiences, the chances are that you will find the finest moments in your life were those when you completely forgot yourself.

  • You ought to try eating raw oysters in a restaurant with every eye focused upon you — it makes you feel as if the creatures were whales, your fork a derrick and your mouth Mammouth Cave.

    • Lillian Russell,
    • in Marie Dressler, The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling ()
  • ... how magnanimous was a gesture if one were constantly aware of its magnanimity?

  • We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.

  • I cured myself of my shyness when it finally occurred to me that people didn't think about me nearly as much as I gave them credit for. The truth was, nobody really gave a damn.

  • It's always the fear of looking stupid that stops you from being awesome.

  • Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.

  • The change of life is the time when you meet yourself at a crossroads and you decide whether to be honest or not before you die.

  • But I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply moulding one's inner life. And that too is a deed.

  • Our deeds still travel with us from afar, / And what we have been makes us what we are.

  • ... not wholly consciously, but not quite unconsciously, as far as I can remember, I determined to fashion my future as a sculptor his marble, and there was in it the same mixture of foresight and the unknown. The thing in the mind of the artist takes its way and imposes its form as it wakens under his hand. And so with life.

  • A vital force is active in every individual and leads it towards its own evolution.

  • My goal is always, how do you get better?

  • There is no paycheck that can equal the feeling of contentment that comes from being the person you are meant to be.

  • I still want what I've always wanted ... to be the best person I can be.

  • It's never too late for a happy childhood.

  • ... imagining anything is the first step toward creating it. Believing in a true self is what allows a true self to be born.

  • I am the daughter of myself. / I am born of my own dream. My dream sustains me.

    • Rosario Castellanos,
    • "Wailing Wall," in Magda Bogin, trans., The Selected Poems of Rosario Castellanos ()
  • Our choices tell our story.

  • ... one is never got out of the cave, one comes out of it.

  • We make ourselves our own distress, / We are ourselves our happiness.

  • Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptable for one's private, secret thoughts — like a confidante who is deaf, dumb, and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. ... The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1957, in David Rieff, ed., Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 ()
  • What we do modifies us more than what is done to us.

  • It is my firm belief that all our lives we are preparing to be somebody or something, even if we don't do it consciously.

  • It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate.

  • What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

  • I am becoming something — I am living the most intensely happy time of my life.

  • Improvement begins with I.

  • ... doing and being are very closely tied together, and unless you are doing what you secretly want to do, you aren't able to be the sort of person you want to be.

  • There's always the sunshine, only we must do our part, we must move into it.

  • You have control over three things — what you think, what you say, and how you behave. To make a change in your life, you must recognize that these gifts are the most powerful tools you possess in shaping the form of your life.

  • We need to find the courage to say no to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.

  • What she wanted was to donate to the world a good Maud Martha. That was the offering, the bit of art, that could not come from any other. She would polish and hone that.

  • I wasn't born a redhead, but I was born to be a redhead.

  • I will not ask that you nor you shall teach my soul the way, but I will trust my soul.

  • Have we arrived at our own faith and our own path or simply internalized the beliefs of parents, clergy, spouse, or friends?

  • A man would rather fail according to his own ideas than succeed according to another's.

  • If, as the girls always said, it's never too early to think about whom to marry, then it could certainly not be too early to think about who to be. Being somebody had to come first, because, of course, somebody could get a much better husband than nobody.

  • A child should be allowed to take as long as she needs for knowing everything about herself, which is the same as learning to be herself. Even twenty-five years if necessary, or even forever. And it wouldn't matter if doing things got delayed, because nothing is really important but being oneself.

  • Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

  • I/woman give birth: / and this time to / myself.

  • Whatever we really are, that let us be, in all fearlessness. Whatever we are not, that let us cease striving to be.

  • You can't have relationships with other people until you give birth to yourself.

    • Sonia Sanchez,
    • in Houston A. Baker, Jr., "Our Lady," in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., Reading Black, Reading Feminist ()
  • How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but to be someone.

  • Growing into one's personal power does not happen overnight. It is an evolutionary process that encompasses observation, reflection, letting go, decision making, developing commitments, accepting validation, taking action, and experiencing the success of responsible choices.

    • Cheryl A. Maloney,
    • in Mary Pinney Erickson and Betty Kling, eds., Streams From the Sacred River ()
  • We make ourselves up as we go ...

    • Kate Green,
    • "Possible Love, Possible Sky," If the World Is Running Out ()
  • The gift is that we are unfinished. The sixth day is not yet over for us.

  • Believe it or not, I used to be a self-help victim. A hapless seeker trapped on the treadmill of self-improvement. For years, I left no stone unturned. I perfected my orgasm. I fell in love with myself. I got in touch with my shadow, my inner child, my past lives, my power animals, my Higher Self, my lower chakras and my former husbands (they owed me money and as soon as I got in touch with my rage, I went after them). I learned how to rebirth, rebreathe, meditate, communicate, have meaningful dreams and walk on hot coals.

  • I want the freedom to carve and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own gods out of my entrails.

  • Your world is as big as you make it. / I know, for I used to abide. / In the narrowest nest in a corner, / My wings pressing close to my side.

  • i, woman, i / can no longer claim / a mother of flesh / a father of marrow / I, Woman must be / the child of myself.

  • ... I ran away. I hurried more than if lions had chased me. Without telling him. Without telling my mother or father. There wasn't any liberty in San Francisco for ordinary women. But I found some. No jobs for girls in offices like there are now. You got married, were an old maid, or went to hell. Take your pick.

  • Like any art, the creation of self is both natural and seemingly impossible. It requires training as well as magic.

    • Holly Near,
    • in Holly Near, with Derk Richardson, Fire in the Rain...Singer in the Storm ()
  • As one goes through life one learns that if you don't paddle your own canoe, you don't move.

  • I have become that third gender: a human person, the being one creates of oneself.

  • Maybe being oneself is always an acquired taste.

    • Patricia Hampl,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 2 ()
  • The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life ...

  • ... when asked, most folks will gladly tell us about ourselves, who we are, what we're feeling, and where we should be heading. And if we don't honor ourselves by listening to our lives, we'll believe them.

  • Free to be ... you and me.

  • Being, I imagine, must be very simple. It is Becoming which is so messy and which I am all for.

    • Alice B. Sheldon,
    • in Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon ()
  • We think we need to create ourselves, always doing a paste-up job on our personalities. That is because we're trying to be special rather than real. We're pathetically trying to conform with all the other people trying to do the same.

  • She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.

  • The people and circumstances around me do not make me what I am, they reveal who I am.

  • There's always room for improvement, you know — it's the biggest room in the house.

  • Once we let go of the belief that we are helpless, we may find that we are powerful.

  • It was the worry about not making the most of herself. The thing that troubles nearly all of us, nearly every day.

  • I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.

  • In youth, it was a way I had / To do my best to please, / And change, with every passing lad, / To suit his theories. / But now I know the things I know, / And do the things I do, / And if you do not like me so, / To hell, my love, with you!

  • I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will.

  • My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.

  • ... there are two things everybody thinks they can do—write a book and run a shop.

  • The human mind has an infinite capacity for self-deception.

  • Is there no Villain in this World who doth not regard himself as a poor abus'd Innocent, no She-Wolf who doth not think herself a Lamb, no Shark who doth not fancy that she is a Goldfish?

  • His cravings and dreams were not for somebody to be devoted to, but for somebody to be devoted to him. And, like most people who possess this characteristic, he mistook it for an affectionate disposition.

  • There is no illusion so permanent as that which enables us to look backward with complacency; there is no mental process so deceptive as the comparing of recollections with realities.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "A Question of Politeness," Americans and Others ()
  • It is human nature to overestimate the thing you've never had.

  • Human beings are mercifully so constituted as to be able to conceal from themselves what they intend to do until they are well into the doing of it.

  • Everyone realizes that one can believe little of what people say about each other. But it is not so widely realized that even less can one trust what people say about themselves.

  • The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.

  • ... people have a nearly infinite capacity for self-delusion, don't you think?

  • Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.

  • He was really very fond of his temper, and rather enjoyed referring to it with tolerant regret as being a bad one and beyond his control — with a manner which suggested that the attribute was the inevitable result of strength of character and masculine spirit.

  • One has no right to form ideals of people, and then, because they don't justify them, become bitter.

    • Olive Schreiner,
    • 1920, in S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner, ed., The Letters of Olive Schreiner 1876-1920 ()
  • Mabel Pettigrew thought: I can read him like a book. She had not read a book for over forty years, could never concentrate on reading, but this nevertheless was her thought ...

  • It is a great thing to be persuaded that at bottom you have a good heart. Lady Charlotte was so persuaded, and allowed herself many things in consequence.

  • There are no such self-deceivers as those who think they reason when they only feel.

  • Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself ...

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.

  • Gertrude could scarcely restrain a smile at hearing Lord Rossville quote himself as a pattern to be followed instead of a rock to be shunned; but such is the blindness of human nature; we are all but too apt to hold ourselves up as guides when we ought to be satisfied to serve as beacons.

  • ... Michael couldn't bear to think of himself as average. He lived on dreams, saw a tycoon in the mirror when he shaved, lied to himself and everyone.

  • Our ability to delude ourselves may be an important survival tool.

  • Nothing, nothing am I but a small, loving watercourse.

  • If I may venture to be frank I would say about myself that I was every inch a gentleman ...

  • I am and am not; freeze, and yet I burn, / Since from myself my other self I turn.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • 1582, in Gwen John, Queen Elizabeth ()
  • ... I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.

    • Jane Austen,
    • 1815, in Deirdre Le Faye, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • I've been things and seen places.

  • Describing herself was Suzanne's way of being herself.

  • You're only as sick as your secrets. Either it comes out their way or my way. I talk about myself behind my back. And I'm funny about it.

    • Carrie Fisher,
    • in Mimi Avins, "Carrie Fisher Takes Reality for a Spin," Los Angeles Times ()
  • A lot of the time, I'm just smart enough to be unhappy.

  • Eventually, life of the party is just like any other job. I've thought of myself that way at times, but it's sort of like holding everybody hostage. It diminishes everyone else. And ultimately, your friends don't require it of you.

  • Part of my gestalt is that I still feel a little bit like a wallflower. Even in my own life. I talk about myself behind my back.

  • I'm the last of the truly tacky women. I do trash with flash and sleaze with ease.

  • I am the box / within a box / within a box. / Open me and be deafened / by my shadow.

  • Once more I am overcome by my own amazing sloth and unmannerliness. Can you please forgive me and believe that it is really because I want to do something well that I don't do it at all?

  • I prefer to remain anomalous.

  • ... anyone who used the word hip probably wasn't.

  • Outside I am a little machine wound up; inside I am a thousand miles away, and doing a thousand other things. Some day I am going to blow up and break my inside workings, for I wasn't meant to run regular and on time. I wasn't.

  • [On herself:] A doormat in a world of boots.

  • I feel like a baited bull and look a wreck, and as for my unfortunate brain well I saw it neatly described yesterday on an automatic thing in the tube: This machine is empty till further notice.

  • I am said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe. About that, of course, I cannot judge because I cannot know. But about the other queens, I know. I am the most beautiful queen in Europe.

    • Marie of Romania,
    • 1919, in Hannah Pakula, The Last Romantic: A Biography of Queen Marie of Roumania ()
  • ... if you ain't got on to it by now, that I'm no little, tremblin' wife, you never will. Those kind has nerves. I only got nerve.

  • ... by what miracle could he understand me? I was experiencing the inevitable consequence of a nature like mine — a nature too diverse and made up of extreme opposites. I could with discipline secretly harmonize my elements; by dint of regulating myself properly, to my own ears I sounded in tune. But I thought that such subtle attuning would never be perceptible to anyone else. I knew then, I know still, that I sound off-key to those who do not listen with attention.

    • Georgette Leblanc,
    • in Janet Flanner, trans., Souvenirs: My Life With Maeterlinck ()
  • I am what you call a hooligan ...

  • I was then at the height of my two-facedness: that is, outside I seemed one way, inside I was another; outside false, inside true.

  • I feel like I don't have all the ingredients a person is supposed to have.

  • Describe me broken mast / adrift but strong / regardless what may / come along.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Who Look at Me," Things That I Do in the Dark ()
  • I am dark, daughters of Jerusalem, / And I am beautiful! / Dark as the tents of Kedar, lavish / As Solomon's tapestries. / Do not see me only as dark. The sun / has stared at me.

  • Sometimes, Bobbi, I feel like I am a figment of my own imagination.

  • ... to speak as black, female, and commercial lawyer has rendered me simultaneously universal, trendy, and marginal.

  • I am all that I am / And some of what I hope to be.

  • Nora robbed herself for everyone; incapable of giving herself warning, she was continually turning about to find herself diminished. Wandering people the world over found her profitable in that she could be sold for a price forever, for she carried her betrayal money in her own pocket.

  • I've often found myself preferring second-rate people to supposedly superior people, simply and solely because of their uncontrollable tendency to bang themselves against the sides of life's vast lampshade like fireflies or moths.

  • ... it's a sad day when you find out that it's not accident or time or fortune but just yourself that kept things from you.

  • Give him enough rope and he will hang himself.

  • The mind is its own enemy, that fights itself with the innumerable pliant and ineluctable arms of the octopus.

  • Neurotics, who cause less distress to themselves and their neighbours than those in the other category, are at war with their own natures. Their right hands are in conflict with their left. Psychotics, and it is those who commit purposeless crimes and prefer death to life, are at war with their environment. Right and left hands strike against the womb that carries them.

  • ... destruction is ultimately self-destruction.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1961, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 6 ()
  • Self-destructive patterns cause as much suffering as outer catastrophes.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1961, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 6 ()
  • I did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water.

  • very often / you are / the one / who creates the traps / you fall into.

  • Every man is his own worst enemy

    • Queen Christina,
    • in Margaret Goldsmith, Christina of Sweden: A Psychological Biography ()
  • Who would play the foolish part / Of fueling a fire / Above whose flame he sees his heart / Dangling from a wire.

  • When Harold, and many others like him, obeyed an irresistible urge to move on to new and wilder places, they carried with them the seeds of the very things from which they were trying to escape. ... So the shunners became the spreaders, and people like Harold were hard at work destroying their own salvation.

  • I saw this thing turn, like a flower, once picked, turning petals into bright knives in your hand. And it was so much desired, so lovely, that your fingers will not loosen, and you have only disbelief that this, of all you have ever known, should have the possibility of pain. All the time you are seeing the blood trickling a red answer slowly down your hand.

  • All human beings hold the tools of their own destruction.

  • I've always burned my bridges before me.

  • If something feels right, I do it. If it feels wrong, I don't. It's really very, very simple, but you've got to be willing to take your chances doing stuff that may look crazy to other people — or not doing something that looks right to others but just feels wrong to you.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • We cannot leave the expression of our lives to those better qualified than we are, however dear they may be.

  • I gave up being a conventional person a long time ago. Things have been so much more exciting since I did.

  • One ship drives east and another drives west / With the selfsame winds that blow. / 'Tis the set of sails and not the gales / Which tells us the way to go.

    • Ella Wheeler Wilcox,
    • "Winds of Fate," in Hazel Felleman, ed., The Best Loved Poems of the American People ()
  • My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose. Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on their altars.

  • No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy.

  • Only on the surface of things have I ever trod the beaten path. So long as I could keep from hurting anyone else, I have lived, as completely as it was possible, the life of my choice. I have been free. ... I have done the work I wished to do for the sake of that work alone.

  • He is blessed who won't follow a path that conforms / To the rule of his clock, the black hands on white.

  • We are never trapped unless we choose to be.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1944, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 4 ()
  • ... I ... found myself saying to myself — I can't live where I want to — I can't go where I want to — I can't do what I want to — I can't even say what I want to. ... I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to and say what I wanted to when I painted as that seemed to be the only thing I could do that didn't concern anybody but myself ...

  • The first rule of survival is: Make your own rules. The hell anyone thinks about the way you're acting; listen only to yourself.

  • ... my choices were partly conditioned by the two great laws — of biology and sociology — for I do not conceive of myself outside of them. ... Inside every biological and social situation I am free to make decisions.

  • If Rosa Parks had taken a poll before she sat down in the bus in Montgomery, she'd still be standing.

  • To the happy all things come: happiness can even bring the dead back to life. It is our resentments, our dreariness, our hate and envy, unrecognized by us, which keeps us miserable. Yet these things are in our heads, not out of our hands; we own them. We can throw them out if we choose.

  • I wrote for 12 years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn't all that important to me.

  • One should always act from one's inner sense of rhythm.

  • Women who want to lead the orchestra have to turn their back on the crowd.

    • Patti LaBelle,
    • in Patti LaBelle and Laura Randolph Lancaster, Patti's Pearls ()
  • ... sooner or later I do what I want to do.

    • Muriel Spark,
    • in Martin Stannard, Muriel Spark: The Biography ()
  • Nobody knows what I am trying to do but I do and I know when I succeed.

  • Of my own spirit let me be / in sole though feeble mastery.

  • There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

  • I'll walk where my own nature would be leading: / It vexes me to choose another guide ...

    • Emily Brontë,
    • in Charlotte Brontë, ed., "Selections From the Literary Remains of Ellis and Acton Bell," memorial edition of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey ()
  • Over the course of my career as both an actress and an author, I have met many wanna-bes. I distinguish the wannas from the gonnas because the WBs all think someone else is to blame for their problems. ... By contrast, GBs say: 'What? There's no door here? I'll build one.'

  • I may be helpless to change your attitude toward me, but I am not helpless to disregard it.

  • Don't depend on other people's encouragement. It's never enough and never when you need it.

    • Sigourney Weaver,
    • "The Crooked Path Has Its Dividends," in Tonya Bolden, 33 Things Every Girl Should Know ()
  • Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility. Nothing adds such dignity to character as the recognition of one's self-sovereignty ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • "The Solitude of Self," farewell speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association ()
  • I will dare to do just what I do. Be just who I am. And dance whenever I want to.

  • Don't look left nor right and never compete. Never. Watching the other guy is what kills all forms of energy.

  • Never allow yourself to say, 'I can't do this or that, I am too old.' If you do, your convictions will engrave themselves on your face and bring stiffness to your limbs.

  • No one can think for us any more than another can eat for us.

  • If it is to be, it is up to me.

  • ... the more we are focused on controlling and changing others, the more unmanageable our life becomes. The more we focus on living our own life, the more we have a life to live, and the more manageable our life will become.

  • I know there isn't anything I can do that will please everybody. But if I have done according to my beliefs, I sleep very very well.

  • ... how can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?

  • What use is it for me to force my nature? / For my nature shall always remain / What it is and conquer what belongs to it, / However men may narrow its path.

    • Hadewijch,
    • "To Live Out What I Am" (13th cent.), in Mother Columba Hart, O.S.B., Hadewijch: The Complete Works ()
  • ... they wish to dissuade me / From all that the forces of Love urge me to. / They do not understand it, and I cannot explain it to them. / I must then live out what I am; / What Love counsels my spirit, / In this is my being: for this reason I will do my best.

    • Hadewijch,
    • "To Live Out What I Am" (13th cent.), in Mother Columba Hart, O.S.B., Hadewijch: The Complete Works ()
  • I tried not to let anyone direct my life if they weren't me.

  • This expressionless white face / Is what the world and love / Have carved upon her. / Her dark face is rigidly turned away; / She's carving that for herself.

  • My definition of courage is never letting anyone define you.

  • Be an unsinkable ship. Basically, making yourself seaworthy is easier than trying to control the sea.

  • Self-restraint may be alien to the human temperament, but humanity without restraint will dig its own grave.

  • Getting to know ourselves and learning to control ourselves are the two great tasks of life. Don't make up strange and exotic 'penances.' Simply say no to yourself once a day, and you will be on the road to sanctity for the rest of your life.

  • Nothing ever really sets human nature free, but self-control.

  • I am not impressed by external devices for the preservation of virtue in men or women. Marriage laws, the police, armies and navies are the mark of human incompetence.

  • ... when I have jobs I dread, I am for takin' 'em by the forelock and grapplin' with 'em at once.

  • The business of self-command she settled very easily; — with strong affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit.

  • As far as your self-control goes, as far goes your freedom.

  • It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate.

  • Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?

  • I try to teach my heart to want nothing it can't have.

  • Remember that you will never reach a higher standard than you yourself set. Then set your mark high, and step by step, even though it be by painful effort, by self-denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole length of the ladder of progress.

  • I did and still do find a serious error in the emphasis of spiritual masters and hagiographers of all faiths on self-denial and austerity as an end in itself, instead of a means. L'art pour l'art. We must do the good because it is good, not because it is difficult.

    • Ade Bethune,
    • in Judith Stoughton, Proud Donkey of Schaerbeek ()
  • Many thrive on frugal fare / Who would perish of excess.

  • If you don't control your self, some one or thing else will.

  • My whole theory for the improvement of society is based on a belief in the discipline and the education of the individual to self-control and right doing, for the sake of right doing. I have never seen fundamental improvements imposed from the top by ordinances and laws.

  • I find that self-denial is painful for a moment, but very agreeable in the end.

    • Jane Taylor,
    • "Theory and Practice," The Writings of Jane Taylor, vol. 3 ()
  • You have control over three things — what you think, what you say, and how you behave. To make a change in your life, you must recognize that these gifts are the most powerful tools you possess in shaping the form of your life.

  • The mind's health, as well as the body's, is promoted by occasional privation or abstinence.

  • O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her!

    • Clare of Assisi,
    • in Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius Brady, eds., Francis and Clare: The Complete Works ()
  • ... until you are master over the earth and air and water and fire in yourself, how can you be master of the elements of Nature?

  • People who keep stiff upper lips find that it's damn hard to smile.

  • If you can't control yourself, you'll never control a situation.

  • The success of life, the formation of character, is in proportion to the courage one has to say to one's ownself: 'Thou shalt not.'

  • The poorest education that teaches self-control is better than the best that neglects it.

  • ... self-control, in every station and to every individual, is indispensable, if people would retain that equanimity of mind, which, depending on self-respect, is the essential of contentment and happiness.

  • ... self-control ... is a thing one can best achieve alone ...

    • Ellen Axson Wilson,
    • letter (1905), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book ()
  • Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.

    • Margaret Thatcher,
    • in John Blundell, Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady ()
  • Insecure people have a special sensitivity for anything that finally confirms their own low opinion of themselves.

  • Don't pass judgment upon yourself. People are not especially interested in what you think of your own character or personality.

  • There is as much vanity in self-scourgings as in self-justification.

  • Insecurity breeds treachery: if you are kind to people who hate themselves, they will hate you as well.

  • Let's not hate ourselves. We are all we have. ... I have been a longtime perpetrator of hate crimes against myself, and I am turning myself in. I have had enough.

  • ... each of us only feels the torn lining of his own coat and sees the wholeness of the other person's.

  • Self-hatred leads to the need either to dominate or to be dominated.

  • There is no wretchedness like self-reproach.

  • He who despises himself esteems himself as a self-despiser.

  • I sit and pass judgment on myself: this is dull, this is unclear, this is insignificant: ergo I am dull, I am unclear, I am insignificant.

  • Easier, she thinks, to hate yourself than to respect yourself: it involves less imagination.

  • Self-criticism, like self-administered brain surgery, is perhaps not a good idea. Can the 'self' see the 'self' with any objectivity?

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Enigmatic Art of Self-Criticism," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • Self-loathing is the silent hemorrhaging of the soul. You don't feel or see the life force fleeing until it's not longer there, and then, of course, it's too late.

  • It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.

  • ... lack of self-esteem is what causes wars because people who really love themselves don't go out and try to fight other people ... It's the root of all the problems.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • I have a sense of greatness, which comes from feeling that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing on the planet — empowering people, especially women.

  • No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

  • ... self-esteem isn't everything; it's just that there's nothing without it.

  • The need to treat ourselves as well as we treat others. It's women's version of the Golden Rule.

  • You can be pleased with nothing when you are not pleased with yourself.

  • But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never.

  • I have always known that being very poor, which we were, had nothing to do with lovingness or familyness, or character or any of that ... We were quite clear that what we didn't have didn't have anything to do with what we were.

  • Self-affection is the real dwelling to which we must always return with a view to a faithfulness to ourselves and an ability to welcome the other as different.

  • This sentiment of self-contempt is a frequent one in young people of both sexes. Their valuation of themselves varies as much as the barometer, and is as much affected by outward causes.

  • Between the combination of Judeo-Christian religious 'be good be good be good' and Capitalist 'something's wrong with you, buy this' and the parental upbringing, which is 'you're wrong, you're not thin enough, you're not smart enough' I mean, hello! We don't have a shot.

  • It is curious how believable I can be when I criticize myself, how unconvincing when I give myself praise.

  • Self-love, so sensitive in its own cause, has rarely any sympathy to spare for others.

  • We cease loving ourselves when no one loves us.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • in C. A. Sainte-Beuve, "Madame de Staël" (1835), Portraits of Women ()
  • The things we hate about ourselves ... aren't more real than things we like about ourselves.

  • You cannot be successful and continue to be a victim.

  • There is an applause superior to that of the multitude — one's own.

  • Self-love is so monogamous that no one is going to take the trouble to break the affair up for you.

  • For instance, in group therapy, I'll have people stand up, show off, give a speech about themselves as though they've just died and have to give a eulogy. Even with this explicit permission — even an order — to say something nice about themselves, this is the hardest thing in the world for people to do. They'd rather take their clothes off.

  • The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.

  • The only person you will live your entire life with is yourself.

  • Most people who make movies are in real life a bitter disappointment. I, on the other hand, am so much better in real life.

  • The sudden desire to look beautiful made her straighten her back. 'Beautiful! For whom? Why for myself, of course.'

  • Walls protect and walls limit. It is in the nature of walls that they should fall. That walls should fall is the consequence of blowing your own trumpet.

  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

  • I feel so small I could sit on a dime an' my legs wouldn't even hang over ...

  • Nothing can be so bad as to be displeased with one's self ...

  • [Wishing she could take back self-deprecating remarks like 'I'm as thick as a plank' and 'Brain the size of a pea, I've got,' the latter made to a 16-year-old in an orphanage who was worried about his exams:] This was just a jokey way of putting a nervous youngster at ease, but it lingered in the public's mind.

  • ... innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • ... at this point I meet Me face to face. I am Mary MacLane: of no importance to the wide bright world and dearly and damnably important to Me.

  • The man who doesn't love me / I love twice: / once for his beauty, again / for his sound sense.

    • Nancy Mairs,
    • "Wise," In All the Rooms of the Yellow House ()
  • I see nothing to fear in inner space.

    • Yeshe Tsogyel,
    • 8th cent., in Keith Dowman, Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel ()
  • Until kids decide, 'I am a miracle. I am unique. There is no one else exactly like me,' they can never draw the conclusion, 'Because I'm a miracle, I will never harm another person who's a miracle like me.' In this slippery world, they all need something to hang on to.

    • Marva Collins,
    • in Beth Benatovich, ed., What We Know So Far ()
  • ... nothing enhances self-esteem so much as the ability to do something well.

  • ... she'd been so programmed by Julian to think of herself as inferior material that if a man threw himself at her feet, her immediate reaction would be to call an ambulance.

  • ... and he said: you pretty full of yourself ain't chu / so she replied: show me someone not full of herself / and i'll show you a hungry person ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Poem for a Lady Whose Voice I Like," Re:Creation ()
  • Self-love is always the mainspring, more or less concealed, of our actions; it is the wind which swells the sails, without which the ship could not go.

    • Madame du Châtelet,
    • in J. De Finod, ed., A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness ()
  • People take you at your own valuation; might as well set it high.

  • ... the world is terribly apt to take people at their own valuation ...

  • Nurtured, nourished people, who love themselves and care for themselves, are the delight of the Universe.

  • If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

    • Dorothy Law Nolte,
    • in Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris, Children Learn What They Live ()
  • Self-esteem is something you have to give to yourself. That's why it's called self-esteem. What you get from others is something else entirely.

  • I have always regarded myself as the pillar of my life.

  • God didn't have time to create a nobody ...

  • All men seek esteem; the best by lifting themselves, which is hard to do, the rest by shoving others down, which is much easier.

  • ... it follows that if you aren't happy with yourself, you won't be happy with others.

  • Remember that nothing is so damaging to self-esteem as waiting for a telephone or door-bell that doesn't ring.

  • ... the world never puts a price on you higher than the one you put on yourself.

  • I should coldly, clinically think of myself and stop worrying about other people, as though I'm a necessary woman, indispensable to their happiness and well-being. Self-preservation is the first law. I must start trying to obey the law.

  • Miss Owen and Miss Burney asked me if I had never been in love; 'with myself,' said I, 'and most passionately.' When any man likes me I never am surprised, for I think how should he help it? When any man does not like me, I think him a blockhead, and there's an end of the matter.

  • People who succeed speak well of themselves to themselves.

  • The happiest and most fulfilled women are those who listen to themselves.

  • Learn more about yourself! Make a self-esteem collage using pictures of other people you wish you were.

  • I'm just a loudmouthed middle-age colored lady ... and a lot of people think I'm crazy. Maybe you do too, but I never stop to wonder why I'm not like other people. The mystery to me is why more people aren't like me.

  • ... I think I'm just as good as anyone. That's the way I was brought up. I'll tell you a secret: I think I'm better! Ha! I remember being aware that colored people were supposed to feel inferior. I knew I was a smart little thing, a personality, an individual — a human being! I couldn't understand how people could look at me and not see that, because it sure was obvious to me.

    • Bessie Delany,
    • in Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth, Having Our Say ()
  • In those days I was a slip of a thing with a divine figure and a face I was certain drove men wild. There is no doubt that I was the most conceited thing that ever lived. I simply adored Dagmar Godowsky and it was a passion that has withstood the test of time.

  • If I could stand beside my body / and really see the woman I am, / then I would understand at last how envy feels.

    • Anna Akhmatova,
    • "Northern Elegies" (1945), in D.M. Thomas, trans., You Will Hear Thunder ()
  • No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.

  • There's no room for demons when you're self-possessed.

  • A child can never be better than what his parents think of him.

  • The person who conveys, 'I am nothing. Make me something,' may all his life have people trying to answer his hidden plea, but their answer will be in terms of, 'I am trying to make you something because you are nothing,' and, thus, the insult will be embedded in the response. It will be heard just as clearly as the attempt to help. And it will be hated.

  • And like you, I remain as always strikingly beautiful, even though nobody knows it but me.

    • M.F.K. Fisher,
    • in Norah K. Barr, Marsha Moran, Patrick Moran, eds., M.F.K. Fisher: A Life in Letters ()
  • I did not know then, as I know now, that people are prone to build a statue of the kind of person that it pleases them to be. And few people want to be forced to ask themselves, 'What if there is no me like my statue?'

  • We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us.

  • [On being told Mary, Queen of Scots, was taller than she:] Then she is too high, for I myself am neither too high nor too low.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • 1568, in Katharine Anthony, Queen Elizabeth ()
  • Miss Gavin was emancipated, or believed herself to be, which amounts to the same thing.

  • The one thing I would like to get across about my whole feeling regarding high school is how I was when I was fifteen. Gawky. Always a hem hanging down, or strap loose, or a pimple on my chin. I never knew what to do with my hair. I was a mess. And I still carry that fifteen-year-old girl around now. A piece of me still believes I'm the girl nobody dances with.

    • Nora Ephron,
    • in Ralph Keyes, Is There Life After High School? ()
  • She went over to the mirror ... glancing at herself sidelong, as women do who think they have lost their beauty; repudiating a complete reflection.

  • Although he was ambitious at this time to become a great writer, he saw himself rather as a literary figure than as a man at work.

  • Who thinks he will fail — will probably fail. Who believe that dreams are only dreams — will probably find it so. Who doubts himself — will achieve only such results as will confirm it.

  • We are told to value ourselves without feedback, but if nobody is making a pass at you or trying to take you to Bermuda, how are you supposed to feel? Confident?

  • A direct statement about yourself is considered objective only if it is negative. If it's positive, it is considered subjective. And 'objective' means it is accurate, and 'subjective' means it is conceited self-delusion.

  • Retracing the various episodes of one's life, one is disconcerted to discover that one was not as noble as one thought oneself at the time.

  • The moment you alter your perception of your self and your future, both you and your future begin to change.

  • ... undoubtedly if you think yourself a worm you soon become one.

  • When I look at myself, I am so beautiful, I scream with joy.

  • For every individual who really is exceptional there are about fifty thousand who just imagine they are — until it's too late, and they find out they aren't after all.

  • Those who believe they are ugly / objectify the rest of us.

  • ... a woman has been trained ever since she was a little girl to look in the mirror, not to see what's right, but to check what's wrong. Women are inclined to see their flaws rather than their assets.

  • ... self-admiration giveth much consolation.

  • 'I may not know much' — another form of locution often favored by her. The tone in which it was spoken utterly belied the words; the tone told you that not only did she know much, but all.

  • I wish I could buy you for what you are really worth and sell you for what you think you're worth. I sure would make money on the deal.

  • Many people who imagine they are live wires are only shocking.

  • Some people confuse having a lot of money with being worth a lot of money.

  • ... he was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.

  • I've never any pity for conceited people, because I think they carry their comfort about with them.

  • Enveloped in a common mist, we seem to walk in clearness ourselves, and behold only the mist that enshrouds others.

  • ... conceit is the devil's horse, and reformers generally ride it when they are in a hurry.

  • She had no tolerance for scenes which were not of her own making ...

  • ... he believed that he was a pillar supporting the world. It sometimes makes one nervous to reflect what very amateur pillars the world seems to employ.

  • ... self-interest usually brings injustice with it.

  • He thinks he's finer than frog hair.

  • Even in misery we love to be foremost, to have the bitter in our cup acknowledged as more bitter than that of others.

  • All people interested in their work are liable to overrate their vocation. There may be makers of dolls' eyes who wonder how society would go on without them.

  • Too much self-regard has never struck me as dignified: trying to twist over my shoulder to view my own behind.

  • His was the triumphant mien of the military commander who has taken no active part in the dust and heat of the battle, yet marches very actively indeed at the head of his troops when they return victoriously home.

  • But Andrew when compelled against his will had a trick of falling ill. It was not conscious pretense — it was an actual disturbance caused by the distress of not having his own way.

  • When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.

  • Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life on his own terms.

  • Anger is the common refuge of insignificance. People who feel their character to be slight, hope to give it weight by inflation: but the blown bladder at its fullest distention is still empty.

    • Hannah More,
    • "On the Comparatively Small Faults and Virtues," Practical Piety ()
  • ... bluster will scarcely produce a mouse.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her daughter (1791), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • Mostly every one is needing some one to be one listening to that one being one being one boasting.

  • ... nobody is a good judge in his own cause!

  • You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long, and the great charm of all power is modesty.

  • Conceit spoils the finest genius.

  • Rare indeed is the nature that does not become a little more intense when its own affairs come under discussion.

  • She imposes a high standard of conduct upon herself and wears it instead of jewelry.

  • When someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high.

  • It is the common failing of an ambitious mind to over-rate itself ...

  • No country pleases a man so well as his own, nay, so far is he apt to carry prejudice, that he can seldom be induced to do justice to any other nation, even where truth is on its side, if the honor and interest of his own is at stake ...

  • 'One might have seen it with half an eye from the beginning.' Mrs. Thornbrugh had not seen it with two eyes, as we know, till it was pointed out to her; but her imagination worked with equal liveliness backwards or forwards.

  • [Asked if David Frost is religious:] Oh, yes, he thinks he is God.

  • How friendly we should all be with one another if nobody were interested in money and honor.

  • His book was an instant success with those who thought of themselves as thinking for themselves (if they had only had time for it).

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • "A Christmas Carillon," The Collected Stories of Hortense Calisher ()
  • We were worse name-droppers than people who dropped our names. Another actor was a 'best friend,' 'know him very well,' 'died in my arms,' 'gave him his first break in that picture of mine.'

  • ... she had the egoism that is more selfless than most people's altruism — the divine egoism that is genius.

  • It is impossible for one class to appreciate the wrongs of another.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1 ()
  • You who have read the history of nations, from Moses down to our last election, where have you ever seen one class looking after the interests of another?

  • She's one of them kind of women who's always seein' she gets what's comin' to her, and takes what ain't.

  • ... what if the universe / is not about / us? Then what? / What / is it about / and what / about / us?

  • Self-love knows no impediment.

  • Mr. Godfrey, since the publication of his lyrics, went around with the usual conscious simper of one who has just committed the indiscretion of dropping into print — regarding all conversation sustained in his presence upon any other theme than his recent enterprise as decidedly lacking in taste.

  • It is no good to think that other people are out to serve our interests.

  • What concerns anyone so much as the time he has to live?

  • I've always thought an inability to laugh at yourself must be the greatest curse a human being can bear.

  • When we are all wrapped up in ourselves, we present a very small package to others.

  • People who think too much of themselves do not think enough.

  • Every time we start thinking we're the center of the universe, the universe turns around and says with a slightly distracted air, 'I'm sorry. What'd you say your name was again?'

  • Interested in himself, he believed himself a subject of interest ...

  • Men astonish themselves far more than they astonish their friends.

  • When the need to be right is a driving force instead of just a preference, it is very heavy baggage.

  • [They] would leave their tracks on pavement, if self-importance counted for anything.

  • 'It's remarkable — most remarkable, the way these people manage, from time to time, a tragedy or a near-tragedy to break the even tenor of their ways,' said Mr. Tingley, in a tone of half-humorous superiority, by which he considered that he distinguished himself, subtly and inoffensively, from 'these people.'

  • How completely and / how deeply faithless we are, which is / to say: how true we are to ourselves.

    • Marina Tsvetaeva,
    • "I Know the Truth," in Elaine Feinstein, ed., Selected Poems ()
  • ... narcissists ... have the least sense of self of anybody on the planet.

  • [On her marriage to George Sanders:] We were both in love with George Sanders.

    • Zsa Zsa Gabor,
    • on her husband, in John Robert Colombo, Colombo's Hollywood: Wit and Wisdom of the Moviemakers ()
  • When I do a show, the whole show revolves around me, and if I don't show up, they can just forget it.

  • Some people think they are worth a lot of money just because they have it.

    • Fannie Hurst,
    • in Leon Gutterman, Jewish Telegraphic Agency ()
  • Nobody's really paying that much attention to your massive personal dramas.

  • There is a tendency among men as well as women ... so soon as they have acquired a little knowledge of some kind, to want to display it to the best advantage.

  • [On Theodore Roosevelt:] My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding, and the baby at every christening.

  • One's conscience may be pretty well absolved for not admiring this man: he admires himself enough for all the world put together.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1817, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • Egotism — usually just a case of mistaken nonentity.

  • ... affectation is fond of making a greater show than reality. ... Nature and truth have never learned to blow the trumpet, and never will.

  • To matter, to mind. ... What we mind is in our power, but whether we matter may not be — and there's the tragedy. ... Can anyone truthfully say, I don't matter and I don't mind?

  • To matter ... Is there any human will deeper than that? ... We don't want to live when we become convinced that we don't, can't, will never matter. ... We no sooner discover that we are than we desperately want that which we are to matter.

  • The first person I ever cared deeply and sincerely about was — myself.

  • Mark wasn't interested in others and their affairs. His favourite word was 'I,' with 'me' a close second.

  • ... before feminism was, Paglia was!

    • Camille Paglia,
    • "Crisis in the American Universities," Sex, Art, and American Culture ()
  • If you are all wrapped up in yourself, you are overdressed.

  • When you collaborate with other people, you tend to regard your own individual contribution as the most important.

  • His idea of oral sex is talking about himself.

    • Lisa Cofield,
    • in Lisa Cofield, Debbie Dingerson, and Leah Rush, Mrs. Murphy's Laws ()
  • Vain people can't bear to be crossed. They are the center of their world, and if circumstances don't allow the world to meet their needs, then the circumstances need to be changed. Their actions appear proportionate to them because any situation where their needs aren't being met is an affront.

  • Men and women make sad mistakes about their own symptoms, taking their vague uneasy longings, sometimes for genius, sometimes for religion, and oftener still for a mighty love.

  • If you want to know all about the sea ... and ask the sea itself, what does it say? Grumble grumble swish swish. It is too busy being itself to know anything about itself.

  • When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.

  • ... to be understood is not a human right. Even to understand oneself is not a human right.

  • I'd discovered you never know yourself until you're tested and that you don't even know you're being tested until afterwards, and that in fact there isn't anyone giving the test except yourself.

  • It is always hard to hear the buried truth from another person ...

  • It was completely fruitless to quarrel with the world, whereas the quarrel with oneself was occasionally fruitful, and always, she had to admit, interesting.

  • I sometimes imagine that as one grows older one comes to live a role which as a young person one merely 'played.'

    • May Sarton,
    • 1955, in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Among the Usual Days ()
  • It isn't until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are — not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within — that you can begin to take control.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Tuchy Palmieri, Oprah, In Her Words: Our American Princess ()
  • ... if we do not know our own history, we are doomed to live it as though it were our private fate.

    • Hannah Arendt,
    • in Carolyn Heilbrun, Writing a Woman's Life ()
  • I don't think I know a single woman who knows what she looks like.

  • We learn about others when we are with them; when we are alone and silent we discover things about ourselves.

  • You travel to discover yourself. At home there is known to you only the girl you remember. Who you really have become, you do not know. When you travel, that person emerges: she is mirrored in the faces of people you meet.

  • There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.

  • It is a fault to wish to be understood before we have made ourselves clear to ourselves.

  • You are what you are. It is my opinion that trouble in the world comes from people who do not know what they are, and pretend to be something they're not.

  • ... as one grows older, one realizes how little one knows about any relationship, or even about oneself.

  • Until we see what we are, we cannot take steps to become what we should be.

  • The shocking discovery that her way was not necessarily good because it was hers had been epoch-making in her life ...

  • To every man in the world there is one person of whom he knows little: whom he would never recognize if he met him walking down the street, whose motives are a mystery to him. That is himself.

  • Everyone realizes that one can believe little of what people say about each other. But it is not so widely realized that even less can one trust what people say about themselves.

  • Going to meet a stranger or semi-stranger, can you help asking yourself what they are coming to meet?

  • ... it may be in morals as it is in optics, the eye and the object may come too close to each other, to answer the end of vision. There are certain faults which press too near our self-love to be even perceptible to us.

    • Hannah More,
    • "Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great, to General Society," The Works of Hannah More, vol. 1 ()
  • It is hard living down the tempers we are born with. We all begin well, for in our youth there is nothing we are more intolerant of than our own sins writ large in others and we fight them fiercely in ourselves; but we grow old and we see that these our sins are of all sins the really harmless ones to own, nay that they give a charm to any character, and so our struggle with them dies away.

  • The minute you or anybody else knows what you are you are not it, you are what you or anybody else knows you are and as everything in living is made up of finding out what you are it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know what you are and yet to be that thing.

  • i had expected more than this. / i had not expected to be / an ordinary woman.

  • Maybe other people's ideas of us are truer than our own.

    • Zelda Fitzgerald,
    • "Scandalabra" (1932), in Matthew J. Bruccoli, ed., Zelda Fitzgerald: The Collected Writings ()
  • Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience.

  • There is absolutely no pain quite so excruciating as the discovery of one's own shallowness, hypocrisy and selfishness of motive.

  • Often we hate in others the thing which we fear in ourselves; or we hate because the other person raises to our consciousness some fault or inadequacy which we would prefer to have remain unconscious, and therefore without power to disturb our self-complacency.

  • If you don't know what you want from life, you will accept anything.

  • The journey toward self-discovery is life's greatest adventure.

  • A personality cannot be changed; it can only be revealed. To find out what we really are, what it is that makes us rare and wonderful and different from everybody else in the world, we must peel off the layers of fear, withdrawal, self-doubt, confusion and habit that grow around and harden over our inner core until we are as hidden from our own knowledge as we are from everyone else's.

  • The bolder and more courageous you are, the more you will learn about yourself.

  • Occasionally there is a moment in a person's life when he takes a great stride forward in wisdom, humility, or disillusionment. For a split second he comes into a kind of cosmic understanding. For a trembling breath of time he knows all there is to know. He is loaned the gift the poet yearned for — seeing himself as others see him.

  • I put on several different outfits. The advantage of not knowing who you are is you can attempt to be all things to all men ... or women. My mother saw me always glancing in every mirror, every window; in the gleaming blades of knives. She said, 'Jill is vain.' She did not know I was looking to see who would be there this time.

  • Who sees the other half of Self, sees Truth.

  • Once you've started down that road to self-discovery, no matter how treacherous the path before you, you can't turn back. The universe doesn't allow it.

  • Somewhere inside we do know everything about ourselves. There is no real forgetting. Perhaps we know somewhere, too, about all there is to come.

  • There is something all life has in common, and when I know what it is I shall know myself.

  • Watching the moon / at midnight, / solitary, mid-sky, / I knew myself completely, / no part left out.

    • Izumi Shikibu,
    • c. 1000, in Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani, trans., The Ink Dark Moon ()
  • I used to think there would be a blinding flash of light someday, and then I would be wise and calm and would know how to cope with everything and my kids would rise up and call me blessed. Now I see that whatever I'm like, I'm pretty well stuck with it for life. Hell of a revelation that turned out to be.

  • A child should be allowed to take as long as she needs for knowing everything about herself, which is the same as learning to be herself. Even twenty-five years if necessary, or even forever. And it wouldn't matter if doing things got delayed, because nothing is really important but being oneself.

  • Personal power, which is derived from our ability to act in the interest of ourselves and others, is developed from our ability to first clearly see and understand ourselves.

  • Knowing what you want is the first step in getting it.

  • Listening to your heart is not simple. Finding out who you are is not simple. It takes a lot of hard work and courage to get to know who you are and what you want.

  • The truth was, she was becoming more and more uncomfortably conscious not only that the things she said, and a good many of the things she thought, had been taken down off a rack and put on, but that what she really felt was something else again.

  • ... I've always thought I was looking for myself whenever I traveled. Like a journey anywhere was really a journey through myself.

  • You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.

  • You never find yourself until you face the truth.

  • There's a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves, and it becomes either good or sour inside.

  • In a lifestyle where there are no boundaries, it becomes a challenge to find one's true self. If everything comes easily, there is no way to establish worth. And if nothing has real value, then there is no way to gauge satisfaction or accomplishment or contentment.

  • I am not reinventing myself. I am going through the layers and revealing myself. I am on a journey, an adventure that's constantly changing shape.

  • The first half of life is spent mainly in finding out who we are, through seeing ourselves in our interaction with others.

  • I have met a thousand scamps; but I never met one who considered himself so. Self-knowledge isn't so common.

  • He who cries, 'What do I care about universality? I only know what is in me,' does not know even that.

  • Adventure can be an end in itself. Self-discovery is the secret ingredient that fuels daring.

  • I don't want to die without knowing who I am.

  • If you don't know what you want, you'll probably get what somebody else wants.

  • Our opinion of people depends less upon what we see in them, than upon what they make us see in ourselves.

  • Self-reflection is a desire felt by the body, as well as the soul. As dancers, healers, and saints all know, when you turn your attention toward even the simplest physical process — breath, the small movements of the eyes, the turning of a foot in midair — what might have seemed dull matter suddenly awakens.

  • There's nothing more unforgivable than someone who thinks he knows more about yourself than you do.

  • I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.

  • To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.

  • If she had ever really known what she wanted, perhaps she would have got it. If you didn't know, you caught at this and that, thinking, as it flashed at you, that it must be what you were looking for, and then, soberly face to face with it, knowing it for something so remote from your seeking.

  • The knowledge of ourselves is a difficult study, and we must be willing to borrow the eyes of our enemies to assist the investigation.

  • ... we can search for and attain to only one being, that one which was given us, which is within us and which awaits its birth from ourselves. Each day I feel that I leave myself a little more, the better to go toward my encounter with myself.

    • Georgette Leblanc,
    • 1898, in Janet Flanner, trans., Souvenirs: My Life With Maeterlinck ()
  • She spent her life experimenting with people to see how she could make them react, as if, in their response, she could discover herself.

  • Awareness of the self is more acutely at the heart of things than it has ever been before. On the foundation of self-awareness alone rest all our hopes for a new politics, a new society, a revitalized life. If we do not genuinely know ourselves, the void will now, at last, surely rise up to meet us.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "Why Do These Men Hate Women?" Essays in Feminism ()
  • I think knowing what you can not do is more important than knowing what you can do. In fact, that's good taste.

    • Lucille Ball,
    • in Eleanor Harris, The Real Story of Lucille Ball ()
  • I wish there were shortcuts to wisdom and self-knowledge: cuter abysses or three-day spa wilderness experiences. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. I so resent this.

  • There is no American border as perilous as the one separating self-knowledge from self-absorption ... how does one search for personal truth without collapsing into narcissism?

  • Tell me what you want, and I'll tell you who you think you are. Tell me what you fear, and I'll tell you who you really are.

  • The need to treat ourselves as well as we treat others. It's women's version of the Golden Rule.

  • It is easy enough to be pleasant / When life flows by like a song, / But the man worth while is the one who will smile / When everything goes dead wrong.

  • To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • Self respect ... is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has its price.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • ... character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • ... true self-respect, being very different from false pride, leads inevitably to respecting others ...

  • ... and he said: you pretty full of yourself ain't chu / so she replied: show me someone not full of herself / and i'll show you a hungry person ...

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Poem for a Lady Whose Voice I Like," Re:Creation ()
  • Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect, and make everyone else deal with you the same way.

  • The more we learn to love and respect ourselves, the more we will become attracted to people who will love and respect us and who we can safely love and respect.

  • ... nothing resembles selfishness more closely than self-respect.

  • When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wish they hadn't said afterward. There's nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in — that's stronger. It's a good thing not to answer your enemies.

  • I was lying in bed this morning and saying to myself, 'the remarkable thing about Ethel is her stupendous self-satisfaction' when in came your letter to confirm this profound psychological observation. How delighted I was!

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • letter to Ethel Smyth, 1934, in Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, eds., The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume V: 1932-1935 ()
  • One's self-satisfaction is an untaxed kind of property which it is very unpleasant to find depreciated.

  • We must live by the light of our own self-satisfaction, through that secret vital busy inwardness which is even more remarkable than our reason.

  • ... self-satisfaction, if as buoyant as gas, has an ugly trick of collapsing when full-blown ...

  • [On Margot Asquith's autobiography:] Never before or since has any book been so much relished by its author.

  • 'Each has his fault,' we readily allow, / To this Decree, our dearest friends must bow; / One is too careless, one is too correct, / All, save our own sweet self, has some defect ...

  • Beware of people whose halos are on too tight.

  • Bucky was clearly one of those smug people who don't like to be around failure, she thought. They were often the same people who'd made it with a great deal of help from their relatives.

  • A leopard does not change his spots, or change his feeling that spots are rather a credit.

  • No one is satisfied with his fortune, nor dissatisfied with his own wit.

  • There can be something cruel about people who have had good fortune. They equate it with personal goodness.

    • Ann Patchett,
    • "The Sacrament of Divorce," This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage ()
  • A man is never more satisfied than when he is confirming a favorite theory.

  • But those days are over / When it was expedient for two deer / To walk together, / Since anyone can see and remove / The beam in his eye with a mirror.

  • She listens to her own tales, / Laughs at her own jokes and / Follows her own advice.

  • ... I plant geraniums. / I tie up my hair into loose braids, / and trust only what I have built / with my own hands.

  • Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.

  • ... in freeing myself from the romantic dream of finding another man to come along and rescue me, I learned that no one can rescue me except myself.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Beth Benatovich, ed., What We Know So Far ()
  • It is difficult to deal successfully, he decided, with a woman whose feelings cannot be hurt.

  • The most steady, the most self-sufficient nature depends, more than it knows, on its few chosen stimuli.

  • Let them think I love them more than I do, / Let them think I care, though I go alone, / If it lifts their pride, what is it to me / Who am self-complete as a flower or a stone.

  • ... when I'm trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.

  • No person could save another.

  • I don't need a man to rectify my existence. The most profound relationship we'll ever have is the one with ourselves.

  • ... trust that still, small voice that says, 'This might work and I'll try it.'

  • Do not rely completely on any other human being, however dear. We meet all of life's greatest tests alone.

    • Agnes Macphail,
    • 1924, in Margaret Stewart and Doris Cavelle Martin French, Ask No Quarter: A Biography of Agnes Macphail ()
  • I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.

    • Simone de Beauvoir,
    • in Hazel Rowley, ed., Tête-à-tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre ()
  • The so-called selfishness of moderns is partly due to the tremendous amount of stimulation received. They are aroused and drawn into experience by theaters, books, automobiles, great cities. The current is quick and strong.

  • He was really quite a selfish person — I think most unhappy people are, don't you?

  • That we are selfish gives us the opportunity to gain the power so that, in time, we might be selfless. To give back what we have learned. To teach what we know, and shorten the journey for those who will come after us.

  • The country is suffering from musical-chairs syndrome. We all dance around for a bit and then when we try to sit down again, somebody doesn't have a chair. We're running scared; we want ours.

  • I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.

  • Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

  • Need drives men to envy as fullness drives them to selfishness.

  • One set of messages of the society we live in is: Consume. Grow. Do what you want. Amuse yourselves.

  • Show me an 'easy person,' and I will show you a selfish one. Good-natured he may be; why not? since the disastrous consequences of his 'easiness' are generally shouldered by other people.

  • ... tender hearts as well were hearts of stone, / If what they feel is for themselves alone.

  • ... life lived only for oneself does not truly satisfy men or women. There is a hunger in Americans today for larger purposes beyond the self. That is the reason for the religious revival and the new resonance of 'family.'

  • You have no idea how promising the world begins to look once you have decided to have it all for yourself. And how much healthier your decisions are once they become entirely selfish.

  • Once you are thought selfish, not only are you forgiven a life designed mainly to suit yourself, which in anyone else would appear monstrous, but if an impulse to generosity should by chance overpower you, you will get five times the credit of some poor selfless soul who has been oozing kindness for years.

  • ... there were people who occupied telephone booths as though they had rented them for the day.

  • A person who can really be called an unselfish person, has no place in life.

  • ... stinginess seemed instinctive to him. Darwinian even. He hadn't gotten to his current size by sharing.

  • No one has a right to hoard things which he cannot use.

  • No people complain so much of selfishness as the selfish.

  • Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

  • Maybe selflessness was only selfishness on another level.