There’s a lot of talk about feeling empowered in the modern-day, and to a certain degree, that’s good. It’s nice to feel able, confident, willing and interested. It’s good to be engaged and feel capable to do the things you wish to in life. That being said, often the empowerment message becomes a little muddled or fuzzy when it’s not balanced with self-care, and the ability to grow as a person.
Empowerment, it turns out, is a muscle you can train, and is much better when also balanced by its opposite, humility. This allows someone to grow and retain the best parts of their personality, while also staying motivated and interested – and more importantly, able to move through challenge.
So how can you train this muscle? How do you avoid overtraining to a negative degree? And, for those who don’t enjoy speaking in metaphors, what are some practical steps you could take to feel more sure in yourself? This could be essential health advice, particularly as people prepare to deal with the winter expression of Covid-19 and everything that new wave entails.
Let’s consider, together:
Understand Yourself & Live Authentically
To empower ourselves, we need to understand what context we’re hoping to become stronger in. You cannot move into every single experience of life feeling 100% confident, 100% more intelligent and capable than anyone else. This is because there’s a fine line between confidence and delusion, and unfortunately, you’d be closer to the latter if you began thinking this way.
Understanding yourself means knowing what you hope to improve. Are you tired of being spoken over at work, and you wish to be a little more assertive? Okay, that’s great, we can work on becoming empowered there. Perhaps being the first to put your hand up, or having something to contribute in each meeting, or working at home to be fully brushed up on a project can help you put your opinion forward, ignoring any interruptions other colleagues may try to enforce. This helps you move a little closer to authentic empowerment, and you managed to achieve it without having to rely on overconfidence, delusion, or aggression without cause. Understanding where you hope to improve, be that in a relationship, in your sense of style, or even in your awakening sexuality can all take inspiration from this willingness to be better, to ground yourself, and to move forward with care.
Empowerment Can Also Mean Vulnerability
When people think of empowerment, they sometimes think of becoming their best selves – confident, attractive, stylish, cool, interesting, and more. But it’s hard to force character traits upon yourself, and it’s more than likely you have some of these virtues but are lacking in others. Everyone is.
We need to rethink how we feel about empowerment. Sometimes, vulnerability can be empowering. Think of all the people out there who were born with genetic deformities, or became disabled in later life, and spend their time going from place to place emphasizing how important mindset is, how important it is to stay grateful for the little things.
These people may not have a life situation that we would willingly adopt for ourselves, and they would understand that. That doesn’t mean their message is any less important, nor does it mean they are any less empowered for it.
For instance, think of the women who spend time advocating for women and running programs to reduce domestic abuse, after having suffered with tose experiences before. Are they less empowered because they were taken advantage of in the past? Or, like a prism, have they taken that and refracted that experience into a rainbow of positivity, empowering themselves, turning bad into good and almost (if it’s not insensitive to say), completely balancing out the net darkness in the world they suffered from to make things better in the future?
Empowerment can also mean vulnerability, so don’t feel as though you have to start from the ‘perfect place’ to make amazing, worthwhile progress.
Understanding The Principles Of Self-Care
The principles of self-care are really rather important. They’re not entirely complex, either. It’s important to know what you hope to achieve, and how you hope to achieve it. For instance, if you hope to become a little more meditative, flexible and stronger, many workout disciplines may present themselves.
For this reason, it’s important to know which path you should follow, which one should be perfect for your needs. This is brilliantly boiled down by this article – Barre vs. Pilates vs. Yoga: How Do They Compare? In it, you’ll see how different activities can be good for some, and not for others.
This is a principle we can learn from the beginning, that some elements of self-care aren’t universal, but they still hold value as a basic action. For instance, someone looking to resolve their stress from work may wish to meditate in Vipassana every day, or they may wish to use Transcendental meditation techniques and attend retreats.
Ultimately, the principles of self-care are all about balance and suitability. If you can focus on keeping things balanced, keeping your vices moderated as best you can, and focusing on your actual needs as a human (such as exposure to nature), you will be in the best possible situation to move forward and benefit with care.
Staying Honest & Expressing Your Needs
Part of feeling empowered is being able to express your needs and not feeling as though you’re asking too much in doing that. It might be that you’re a people pleaser to a fault, and a lot of people who have agreeable personality traits will often bend over backwards for other people. It’s when you start to feel resentment for doing that, you know a change needs to take place.
Staying honest and expressing your needs is very important. It can really make a massive difference in how you regard yourself. For instance, if you find yourself in a meeting room and there are only enough chairs to go around, sitting on one instead of giving it to the temp who will only be there for thirty minutes can be important. It helps you reclaim some of your dignity, and self-respect in your eyes.
You have needs too. You can subvert these to help someone else of course, but you regularly do so at your peril. Soon you become someone who will act that way without being asked, and unfortunately, people will remember that. They will expect you to do it. So, don’t be afraid of the word ‘no’ from time to time. To use another example, the word ‘no’ can be powerful if you feel irritated that your boss always seems to ask you, and no one else, to do overtime.
Does this mean you have to become brittle, unwilling, and uncooperative? Of course not. It simply means that understanding the needs of others is almost impossible, and inauthentic if you’re not willing to tend or even express yours. This change of attitude can be the most empowering thing you’ve done this year.
As a further addition to our prior point, it can also be that remaining unapologetic is important. It might be that an adverse situation has taken place that isn’t your fault. You are being told to apologize, or someone has blamed you for the issue. Should you apologize and take the blame for the ease of social communication? Or should you stand your ground?
It depends on the situation, of course. But it can sometimes be that standing firm in who you are is also important. Why not go for that new style? Because you’ve told yourself you can’t? Why not try for that promotion? Because someone else has expressed their interest in it? If you apologize for everything you do in life, you’ll set the precedent and convince yourself that you have to. In this world of competition, you won’t get very far there. You’ll also lose respect from people who might not have your caring disposition.
So – to the extent that is feasible and reasonable, don’t apologize if you don’t have to, or if you don’t mean it. That can help you feel empowered.
Developing yourself is important, and can quite often help you feel a sense of self-respect without needing respect from others. That’s where empowerment really does come from – when all you really care about is how your loved ones regard you, and doing right by them. If someone insults you online, or at work, or in another social situation, it’s important not to think of yourself as lesser, even if this does emotionally affect you.
There’s something quite powerful about being validated in your own eyes thanks to hard work and dedication. It can help you ignore everything that doesn’t quite matter. It will enable you to move forward and think for yourself. And moreover, it will make you the sort of person who can be trusted with personal empowerment.
What do you do to feel empowerment? Let me know in the comments below!