You are the authority in your life although it might not always seem that way. When external circumstances or events impose conditions that are not of your choosing you might feel powerless and loose hope of ever being fully yourself.
Other people move on from adversity and thrive with new qualities and strengths. They understand that even though many things may be beyond their control, nobody and nothing can take away their power to determine their inner life and response to life’s challenges.
Whatever your own circumstances or history, personal empowerment can be developed, strengthened and expressed in your life if you practise the following attributes:
The ability to recognise your emotions, thoughts and actions for what they truly are. Emotions are often more than what they seem. For example, within anger may also be hurt, a feeling of powerlessness and loss of control. Thoughts are not always constructive or true – especially if they include automatic self talk. Being aware of them will help you choose between those that support you and others that drag you down.
People and circumstances can be very demanding or upsetting, but putting the brakes on your automatic reactions means you are not easily triggered by external influences. Self-control is about keeping emotions and impulses in check. It prevents you saying or doing something you will regret later or that might be difficult to undo. Instead you consider and evaluate the situation and then decide on the action to take.
Self-acceptance is not the same as self-esteem.
Self-esteem relates to the positive value you put on yourself, most often related to achievements or status. If they are impressive, your feeling of self-worth gets a boost. If they do not seem remarkable, thinking of your positive qualities or feeling as important/worthy/loveable as others may be difficult. There are many cases of high achievers whose self esteem plummets when their performance declines or they retire.
Self-acceptance is a more realistic and stable appreciation of who you are. It is about knowing your abilities and limits, strengths and weakness, warts and all, and being okay about it. It is not linked to a particular image or perfection that can rarely be achieved. Instead it is based on the common-sense understanding that you are a unique human being with great attributes and not-so-great shortcomings!
Self-confidence stems from a solid sense of self, that is not shattered by failures or dead ends. It involves the willingness to go beyond your comfort zone, expand into new fields, take risks and try out new things. It.
However, one feature of self-confidence is different to any the other attributes. You can fake it until you make it! You may be full of fears and doubts about doing something but can still project confidence – even if you don’t feel it at the time. In fact, the only way to develop self-confidence is to trust that you have what it takes to manage life’s turbulences and uncertainties and to do things you are not at all confident about.
You are clear about what you accept into your life and what is not acceptable. You have a back-bone and your own standards about how you want to be treated and how you will conduct yourself towards others.
This includes the courage to be yourself and walk your own path rather than following others or simply believing people in positions of authority. Instead, it involves questioning and thinking for yourself, making up your own mind and coming to your own conclusions. Compromises may be required in order to respect other people’s rights and needs or to navigate unfavourable circumstances. But even when your direction and life vision need to be adjusted, you look within for answers and live accordingly.
It means being responsible for your external and inner life – your thoughts, feelings and actions. As an empowered person you do not shy away from the consequences of your actions. You are able to face facts, admit mistakes and know that it does not diminish your essential worth. Even when things have gone haywire without your involvement, blaming, excuses, avoidance do not lessen your accountability for your own conduct.
Values are at the core of integrity. They inform what is important in your life and what you stand up for. Integrity is about being authentic and real rather than putting on an act or pretend to be someone you are not. Even if being true to yourself incurs criticism or rejection, you are not afraid of honouring who you are.
This kind of intelligence includes sensitivity to the feelings and situation of others and the effects your actions may have on them. As a consequence, you may decide to moderate your behaviour accordingly. However, sensitivity to others should not compromise your integrity, self-respect and self-determination. Sometimes a stark choice is unavoidable, for example, when you need to end a toxic friendship but know that it will hurt the other person.
Openness and Flexibility
This is about allowing novel ideas and approaches rather than limiting yourself to what is familiar and safe. Keeping an open mind, considering viewpoints other than your own and gaining enrichment from broadening your horizons are all signs of empowered openness. Only people with fears and insecurities hold on tightly to the known and close their mind to new impressions.
Flexibility entails rolling with the punches and not letting life’s knocks derail you. Like a tree you may sway but only get uprooted when the storms are extreme. Rather than getting stuck in self-pity or blame, you dust yourself off and make a fresh start.
Both flexibility and openness involve the ability to tolerate uncertainty and not-knowing when things have not yet taken shape and outcomes are not defined.
Protecting and directing your energies wisely is much more than providing healthy conditions for the physical body. It includes eliminating waste of time and energy
on lost causes, things you cannot control, distractions and activities that do not enhance or support your energies.
Self-care is based on your overall life vision – what you want your life to be and who you want to be. This determines your choices; how you allocate your time and energy, what kind of influences you allow into your life and the kind of life you create for yourself.
Empowerment is a state of being you are entitled to express in all you are and do. Which of the attributes of empowerment are already well established in you? Which ones do you need to develop, strengthen or enhance? With determination and persistence you will be able to call on your own inner power whenever you need it in your life!