I asked several people this question recently and received some interesting answers. A teacher in London said it meant being able to say “No.” For a Dublin-based leadership facilitator, it was about being able to make new choices in everyday situations. For an executive coach, it was about intuitive decision-making and trusting his gut instincts. For those who had been diminished by poverty or hardship, it was to do with getting their dignity back. Most interesting of all were those who were in some kind of crisis and were just plain annoyed by the question. “Empowerment? I’m far too busy trying to make ends meet. I don’t have time for that stuff.” They didn’t equate empowerment with being able to make their lives easier or generate an income; they saw it as something frivolous, extraneous—something for people with lots of time and money on their hands …and, even then, they’d probably prefer to have a drink with their friends and bemoan the sorry state of the world.
Personal empowerment is rarely what most people think it is—if they think about it at all. It’s not about navel-gazing or going on a retreat to ‘find yourself’. And it’s not some esoteric, marginalised kind of living for skinny people who wear leather flip flops and tie-dyed smocks and are devoutly vegan.
True personal empowerment is about being truly, authentically, daringly, expressively you—regardless of possible criticism or rejection. It’s about discovering parts of you—and mastering certain key principles—that you don’t even know exist. It’s about tapping into your innate ability to transform your circumstances and create more ease, love, money, success and fulfilment than you could ever have generated through sheer hard work or diligent planning (not to mention complaining).
A key ingredient is self-responsibility—committing to figuring out how you really tick, why your world is the way it is and what you can constructively, powerfully do about it. It’s about taking charge of your own life instead of hoping the government or someone else will fix things for you. Here are some tips and principles to help you get a sense of what’s possible:
1. Changing your life means changing any negative beliefs you have about yourself (and we’ve all been programmed to believe that we don’t deserve lots of love, money, success or fulfilment).
2. Your beliefs create situations and challenges designed to give you a chance to discover who you really are. Every challenge is a call to empowerment and an opportunity to practise greater self-acceptance, self-respect and honest self-expression.
3. Your circumstances are just a reflection of the deeper issues in you that are asking to be addressed so you can have the success and fulfilment you want. When you ‘decode’ your circumstances, you begin to see why your life is the way it is and what to do about it.
4. By DOING and SAYING things that demonstrate strong self-worth (regardless of how we actually FEEL about our value, importance or lovability), we become magnets for all the good stuff.
5. We only ever distort ourselves, compromise or sell ourselves short because we’re afraid of rejection. Imagine how you’d operate if you didn’t have that fear.
We can achieve far more by doing far less if we’re willing to dip our toes in the vast sea of possibilities that emerge when we decide to embrace our own power. What would your life look like if you did that? Would you still be in the same job, house, relationship or country? One thing is certain: you’d feel differently about you and you’d never look at life the same way again. This Autumn, commit to empowering yourself. Difficult circumstances are not designed to change you; they’re designed for you to change them—and to discover just how powerful you can be.
Olga Sheean is an author and personal empowerment coach who teaches a unique system of self-mastery designed to put you back in charge of your life. She runs PEP Talks in Dalkey every Friday morning—a series of personal empowerment perspectives with different host speakers every week.
See www.olgasheean.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.