To understand the concept of empowerment, let’s begin by breaking down the word.
It simply means ‘add power to’ and refers to increasing the strength (spiritual, political, social, educational, gender or economic) of individuals and communities.
According to Wikipedia, empowerment includes some of the following, or similar, capabilities:
– The ability to make decisions about personal/collective circumstances
– The ability to access information and resources for decision-making
– Ability to consider a range of options from which to choose (not just yes/no, either/or.)
– Having positive-thoughts about the ability to make change
– Ability to learn and access skills for improving personal/collective circumstance
– Involving in the growth process and changes that is never ending and self-initiated
– Increasing one’s positive self-image and overcoming stigma
– Increasing one’s ability in discreet thinking to sort out “right and wrong“
Now that you understand the concept of empowerment, do you recognize that you would like to increase your strength in any of these areas? The solution isn’t just that simple – we need to understand how we became dis-empowered in the first place.
How do we give our power away?
Too often in our formative years, our power was accidentally given away to authority figures in our lives. It begins with our experience as children with our parents. Typically, the child has no right to input on many decisions, and therefore has no experience with the decision-making process.
Perhaps you married young, and bought into the patriarchal notion that your husband was the man of the house, that he would be wearing the pants in the family, and that your role was to be quiet and submissive.
Maybe you were raised in a dogmatic religion that instilled in you the belief that someone else was better suited to receive spiritual guidance for you. You might still operate under this fallacy, giving away your right to divine connection away because you don’t believe you are worthy.
We give our power away in numerous ways, throughout every day. For example, when we choose to let our emotions get the best of us, when we take on someone else’s burden, when we allow someone to drain our energy, when we have opportunities and we don’t take them.
Adding strength and power won’t happen overnight, just as starting a new exercise program won’t yield results immediately. It is a process and you will need to increase your strength in mind, body, and spirit. Here are a few additional suggestions if you desire to develop empowerment:
1. Accept responsibility for what your role is in your own life. Commit to it.
2. Without question, spend time with those people who value you.
3. Cease the negative self-talk and self-criticism. Your own judgment of self limits you dramatically.
4. Uplift and encourage others. As you recognize your ability to inspire, you will develop confidence.
5. Find your passion. When you feel driven to take action, you will find your strength.