Empowerment is a term that evokes emotion. Possibly we envision super heroes, leaders, or warriors yet empowerment is far less glamorous then we might like to think. Let’s start with what empowerment is not. Empowerment is not achieved in a vacuum but only in relationship to others. It is not strength, or ignorance of one’s options, or lack of knowledge. Empowerment is not inborn, although it can be nurtured from a young age by encouraging confidence and not discouraging a belief in one’s self.
Not Achieved Alone
Empowerment is not achieved alone. Empowerment is attained within relationships. Otherwise the need to be empowered diminishes without interaction with others. Choices made in a vacuum have less impact in an environment then choices made in a relationship rich arena. In this arena empowered choices require greater consideration and responsibility to the self and to others.
Empowerment is not about physical or emotional strength. It is about the knowledge of what lies within us, and outside us. It requires self-knowledge, and self-knowledge requires a mirror. Given we are rarely honest self-reflectors. Training and skill development are mandatory components to becoming empowered. To achieve empowerment a kind, truth teller is often mandatory, yet often missing in our environment. Thus, true empowerment often is slightly beyond our range of personal insight in any given moment.
Ignorance of Options
To become empowered requires an awareness of our choices. The more choices we have the more empowered we are in our lives. Unfortunately, we are often unaware of many of our choices because our self-limiting beliefs, and fears that inhibit our knowledge and exploration of them. Empowerment occurs when an objective observer assists us in seeing the bigger picture, and points out other pathways that are available to us, expanding our choices. Then one needs to choose or not, to step outside one’s comfort zone to exam and embrace other options, and for most of us that requires support and encouragement from outside ourselves.
Lack of Knowledge
It might not need to be said, but to become empowered one must know when one is disempowered, and if one has never been empowered that also requires the assistance of another. Thus, we see the repeated necessity of another, a relationship in which we can achieve full insight and access to our choices, and therefore our power.
Empowerment is achieved through experimentation in relationships with others, therefore aloneness does not perpetuate empowerment. Relationships perpetuate our growth and therefore, as we master the art of relationships we become more empowered. In relationships, we are challenged to listen, reflect, and then determine what is right for us given the choices before us.
Lack of Self-Confidence
Empowerment comes from trusting one’s own sense of knowing, and letting go of thoughts and feelings as “the truth”. Trusting one’s sense of knowing comes from playing in the world, and learning that another’s truth is not necessarily one’s own, and that thoughts and feelings are just momentary data and not what one uses to make life choices.
Not the Past or Future
Empowerment comes from being present in the here and now with whoever, and whatever is present. It is about becoming clear around your choices, and then choosing at each choice point a direction, and knowing that one can always choose another direction when one wants to do so.