What is Empowerment Anyway?
I was speaking with a woman about the new book I’m writing and she asked me, “What is empowerment anyway?” I began to answer her question when she stopped me cold. With a pinched look on her face, she explained that she was very shy. She didn’t think empowerment was really “for her.” She seemed afraid by the idea of personal empowerment, as if it was something that might turn her into a man.
In many cases, like the one I’m describing, people associate empowerment with the corporate business world, leadership, and the ways women can compete with men for jobs, careers and status. But even in the workplace, the ideas about empowerment aren’t entirely accurate. I found the following definition from BusinessDictionary.com:
Empowerment is a management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance. Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction.
And Google’s first definition is listed as authority or power given to someone to do something.
It seems from these definitions that empowerment is something we have to get from someone in authority. But the key words that stand out to me involve the outcome: “take initiative,” “make decisions,” and be “responsible and accountable.” In reality, all of us are capable of these actions at any time.
So what is empowerment exactly?
When it comes right down to it, empowerment isn’t something another person gives you, like in a business setting. Empowerment is something you claim for yourself, for your life. It’s very possible for one to develop their own skills, resources, authority, opportunity, and motivation!
Empowerment in the larger sense is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights – Google’s second definition. You can experience empowerment anytime, anywhere and it serves you in more ways than one. When I coach others toward personal empowerment these are the things we focus on:
– Empowerment begins with something we call autonomy, otherwise known as the right to act according to what is right for you in any given moment. This means that no matter what your circumstances are, you claim the power to think and act independently, free from external control or influence. This one can be difficult to learn in a world where most people believe they are controlled by external circumstances, but the reality is we’re not. The sooner we take back our self rule, the sooner we’ll experience personal power.
Freedom of Choice
– This one is related to autonomy. Once you claim power over your thoughts and actions then you understand the importance of your decision making capacity. You can exercise free will in a way that supports the best possible version of you. Once you take responsibility for the outcomes of your decisions, then you also own the right to change your my mind without needing to defend how or why. Making choices free from influence you become the author of your own life.
Self Love/Self Respect
– Self respect is an outcome of self love. It involves taking care of yourself first; knowing that you can only do your best when you feel your best. Valuing self means not allowing other people’s opinions to shape the way you think about yourself or to influence the way you act. Self respect happens when you stay true to yourself and your authentic nature. Often when we are closely involved with others as in a marriage, or parent-child relationship, we defer our needs. We think it’s required, but when we do, we end up feeling resentful because we’ve drained our personal resources. We become dysfunctional and disempowered as a result. Empowerment means you take self love seriously and make it a priority in your life.
– Practicing self awareness allows you to become a barometer for your life. Listening to your inner thoughts and being honest with yourself helps you identify negative self talk and counter it with words of loving kindness. When you’re aware, you function better in relationships because you’re able to witness the effects of your actions on others. You can identify areas of your life you want to improve on and give yourself credit for the things you’re doing well. Awareness allows you to celebrate your strengths and work on becoming the best version of you possible.
I did a quick poll recently asking other women to share how they defined empowerment and these are the words they gave me.
- “Loving and accepting yourself and everyone else”
- “Having 100% control over my body”
- “Letting go of self judgment and conformity to society’s standards. Trusting my gut and growing without restriction.”
- “Feeling confident with who you are and why you’re here so that you don’t need others to change to make you happy. Allowing others to be themselves and knowing you don’t have to change to make anyone else happy either.”
- “Enabling her to live the life she wants as defined by her.”
- “I can be the person that I want to be. I am no better and no less than the next fellow human.”
Is Empowerment for You?
Empowerment looks different for each person depending on their circumstances. However, they share some common traits that make them stand out in a crowd.
Empowered individuals exhibit confidence with who they are and what they want. They don’t rely on others to approve their ideas or actions. They give themselves permission to try new things or change their life circumstances when needed.
Empowered individuals accept responsibility for their decisions and learn from their experiences, rather than blame others for what’s not going well in their lives.
Inner strength and the confidence to allow others their own experience are hallmark qualities of the empowered. Their ability to accept and uplift others makes them successful in all areas of life. Empowered people living in integrity experience more peace of mind, and therefore a greater quality of life.
Becoming an empowered individual takes time, awareness and a strong commitment to self. It requires facing one’s fears and asking important, and sometimes uncomfortable questions.
Bravery is the base ingredient to build an empowered life. When we embark on this journey, we will invite opportunities to demonstrate our personal power, to step into our greatness and shine brighter than ever before. Believe me, it takes guts. It might not be easy. It might be scary, but freedom, confidence and passionate living are the promises empowerment offers us in exchange. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take it.
Download your free Self-Empowerment Contract.
Thank you for reading. I hope you have a glorious Spring-filled week.
If you’re interested in learning more about empowerment coaching and what it can do for you, send me an email and we can set up a free planning session to talk about details. Tracy@SoulSetinMotion.com