Why Inspirational Quotes Don’t Work

I recently stumbled on a few quotes while scrolling my social media and the more I analyze them, the more I realized how silly they are. Do you ever just stop and think about what those quotes mean or why people are throwing them around left and right? I get it. You want to motivate people. You want to make them feel better. But .. do they really? For my part, I don’t think it does any good. More bad than good actually.

They’re short and vague as hell.

My main problem with these so called “inspirational quotes” they’re so vague that they can mean everything and anything. Let’s take this quote.

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At first you read it, and you’re like damn, such a #boss CEO type of quotes. But what does it mean exactly? You think that not introducing yourself is BAWS? Like you’re so successful and popular that everybody knows you right away? Even Bill Gates introduces himself when he talks to people. Because humility. There’s no success if you don’t have humility, my friends.

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No shit, Sherlock.

They’re always taking out context.

Quotes taking out of context are called quote mining and it’s an informal fallacy, where it’s removed from the original medium and platform to distort its intended meaning. For example, Vince Lombardi’s quote: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. He even said that he regretted it being one of his famous quotes :

I wish to hell I’d never said the damned thing,” Lombardi once told a reporter. “I meant the effort… I meant having a goal… I sure as hell didn’t mean for people to crush human values and morality.”

When you don’t the true context, you can interpret it differently. Another popular quote always taking out context or dare I say, get a whole metamorphosis is :

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.

The real quote is : “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are,” indicating that diets differed by class and profession.

They’re an excuse for you to not do the work.

Serious question: what do you do right after reading that quote? You feel a rish of adrenaline and then keep scrolling. It comforts you to know that you just read some memorable words but you don’t actually do anything. So just get up and do the work.

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22 thoughts on “Why Inspirational Quotes Don’t Work

  1. I love quotes but I’ve never really been one for inspirational quotes (I prefer bookish quotes, and I use those for inspiration). 😀
    I loved this post though, especially the part about how these quotes are always taken out of context. It’s quite interesting how “you are what you eat” (which everyone says) isn’t the actual quote.
    Great post Trang. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Away on a business trip and ….still you had me read this because …come on! This is a bold comment LOL I loved it!

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  3. Quotes mean nothing if they aren’t backed up with the power to actually change the reader. Otherwise I could inculcate wisdom throughout the entire blogosphere simply by spewing platitudes. No human breathed words have that power.

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  4. Hahaha, I’m not a big fan of inspirational quotes too, I can get mad at them sometimes when they don’t make any sense 😂 Some of them are pretty good though since they can put you in a specific mindset that motivates you!

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  5. Hello. I just wrote my first blog post yesterday and it is revolves around blessings. If you could find the time, please check it out.

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  6. Somebody had to say this. I have a love/ hate relationship with these quotes, leaning more on the hatred. But you had me laughing at this post.

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  7. In my opinion, the obscurity of these quotes is what makes them so interesting. Two people can read the same thing and draw totally different conclusions depending on how they connect it to their own lives. Meaning is something that you have to find for yourself; there are no magical sentences that will find it for you. For me, these quotes are just great starting places for deep reflection and discussion.

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  8. Man, I totally agree with this! Some of them are so vague that I’d be better off without reading them.

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  9. You’ve brought up a great point! A lot of these are just surface level substance. There’s an instagram account called Satiregram that you’d probably resonate with. Check it out!

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  10. I guess people leave quotes abrupt and without context because different people are in different situations and one cannot exactly portray that in a quote…it’s like an open ended sentence, works in different situations but of course, not all…n in my opinion that’s the beauty of those quotes 😊

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