The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
When life happens, sometimes it can knock us for six. From grieving the loss of a loved one, a harsh break up or being ‘let go’ by your employer; life can often throw us curve balls that can tangle up our emotional wiring.
Often when these devastating things happen, we are left spiraling into despair, self-neglect and begin to adopt negative thoughts towards ourselves.
Even if there has been no ‘big’ life event, circumstances in our lives can mount up and begin chipping away at our resolve and self-worth. Money troubles, hurtful comments from a loved one, being in a job you hate, feeling like you are stuck in a worthless life … the list goes on and on.
Whatever your circumstances, you can turn things around. It all begins with you and empowerment.
There was a time I had no connection with empowerment and was at a very, very low ebb.
I was in a very volatile and narcissistic relationship that was ripping shreds from my esteem, worth and independence.
Time would pass and with each passing year, I drifted further and further away from any grasp of confidence, control and rights.
The relationship I was in seemed inescapable; I lived in fear, anxiety and despair that this would be my life forever. I doubt I could have been much lower. There came a point where it was down to two options; escape this life permanently, or fight back and take back my right to empowerment.
Where to begin?
Empowerment will require you to take a little time and reflect on yourself. You will need to be willing to think about and confront the following:
Where do you feel your self-worth is? Do you have any sense of it?
How much access do you feel you have to opportunity? How is this controlled?
How much control do you have in your life? And why?
Can you see yourself being able to influence yourself for the better?
I’d recommend going down the above list and delving a little deeper into each question. Face things head on; confront why you feel the way you do and really come to terms with where you are in terms of the above questions.
Once you have a better understanding of where you are with your connection to empowerment, you’ll be better armed to tackle the following three ways of gaining your empowerment. And deservingly so!
Empowerment Tip 1 – Say ‘no’ more often
It’s one of the hardest things to do, especially when your self-worth is in the gutter. It’s at times like those it can be easy for people to take advantage of your pleasing nature. Saying no, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable, is one of the first big steps towards self-empowerment you can take.
If you’re already thinking “but I can’t say ‘no’ – I’ll seem rude/mean/difficult”, let me give you some things to consider:
Question what is making you say ‘no’. Is it fear, a pattern you can’t get out of, are you such a people pleaser you can’t stop saying ‘no’? Think of your reasoning and then ask yourself if it is serving you to maintain this way of living?
Are you afraid of hurting other people’s feelings? It’s a good idea to remember that you’re not responsible for disappointing anybody else. By focusing too much on what other people are feeling, you’re neglecting yourself.
The most successful people know how to say ‘no’. They honour their truth, and say no to things they know their heart and head isn’t in.
Stop being the people pleaser; it’s to your own detriment. Saying no to the things you would usually have agreed to in the past is a great builder of empowerment – you are taking back control and making it easier for yourself to say ‘no’ in the future.
Empowerment Tip 2 – Stand Up for Yourself
But if you’re serious about really achieving self-empowerment, you’ll know that standing up for yourself is something you need to master.
It can be especially hard to stand up for yourself when you’ve spent years keeping your opinions to yourself and not say anything when you’re being spoken to or about in a derogatory, nasty or patronizing way.
I first used this method when standing up to my mother. For years, I’d let her be mean, harsh and disrespectful towards me. She would belittle me, even as a young child in front of people. What would be worse for me when I was younger was when people who had witnessed this telling me I didn’t deserve it or trying to console me; even her friends.
It was embarrassing at its best, downright soul destroying and self-worth crushing at its worst.
Even in my teens, there were only two ways she would act towards me: indifferent or downright nasty.
When I finally did stand up for myself, and got things off my chest, It was very decompressing for me, and cathartic. I had kept all her horrible words and sayings in my head for so long, and had thought a million times of what I ought to have said when she was treating me so badly.
The sooner you start standing up for yourself, the better. It’s worth mentioning that standing up for yourself doesn’t mean be aggressive or mean or lash out because it’s the last straw. It simply means you are teaching yourself to become more assertive, not allow yourself to be suppressed and to offer your newfound assertiveness in a way that shows you won’t back down.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you transition from wallflower to empowered:
When offering your thoughts, feelings and possible solutions to problems, I recommend you use “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements where possible. This will avoid the other person become defensive and aim for conflict. An example of this could be instead of saying “you never talk to me about things”, you would phrase it “I feel like you ignore my feelings when you don’t discuss things with me”.
Remember that people aren’t usually born with the ability to naturally and easily stand up for themselves. This is mostly a learned trait, and people need to go through the suppressed walkover stage to finally learn how to become assertive. Don’t worry if you think you’re unable to do this – you can.
Polite clarification may be a good place to start. For example, if you’re forever getting people jump in front of you in the queue, next time practice saying: “Excuse me, I was next in line and I’m in a hurry just like you”. It’s polite but firm.
Don’t become aggressive – you’re much more likely to achieve a positive outcome if you are calm and firm.
Empowerment Tip 3 – Set Goals
Think about the most empowered people you know. Do you have celebrity idols or friends’ personality traits you admire, because they are successful?
You can bet that those people have set goals for themselves.
Setting goals and working hard to achieve them is a great way to realize self-empowerment – not only are you being productive and challenging yourself, you are unknowingly instilling control, ambition and focus into your emotional itinerary.
Your goals will be personal to you. You can have lots of mini goals, or you can take the rifle approach and really hone in on one big goal. It could be something like save ‘X’ amount of money per month, or something big like working towards your own business.
Whatever your goals are, be sure to write them down. Telling someone else your goals makes it more likely that you’ll work towards hitting that goal. Be sure to be easy on yourself and break big goals down into smaller, doable chunks.
It’s not just the achieving of goals that will promote a great sense of self-empowerment, it’s taking the action to do so as well. Each little hurdle you overcome will build your grit and each problem you encounter will make your resolve tougher each time.
I keep my goals in a journal. Even though I am thankfully self-empowered these days, I still vouch for goal setting as an integral part of a healthy life and mind.
Practice those three little tips more in your everyday life and I can tell you from experience that you will begin to feel more empowered and more in control of your life.