If you had asked me what empowerment was at the beginning of 2020, I would have said it’s a word I associate with feminists, not a word that I relate to, it’s far too punchy. Of course, since then I have taken a complete U-turn on this word especially given the events of this year which has made many of us feel disempowered, and that is not a feeling I want hanging around me. So, I have been on a mission to bring more empowerment into my life by spending time alone, self-reflecting and getting to know and understand myself more. As well as bringing in experiences which make me feel empowered such as teaching and activities that bring in more self-expression such as improvisation and contemporary dance.
But the fact does remains it is a punchy word and even the tennis player Serena Williams has said, “I think I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of power, not only me but women in general. I sometimes feel that power is a bad word.”
Although I haven’t viewed power as a bad word, I certainly haven’t owned that word as much as I should have done. Self-limiting beliefs have played a role in that and what I have discovered from doing online workshops on empowerment is that many women are not feeling their power as much as they should. It’s almost like they are brushing it off if it goes anywhere near them and letting the same negative thoughts stay. Maybe there is a comfort in that, in the familiar. It is far easier to accept the negative than the positive right?
Pose a question
Changing the way, we think is a challenge though and it takes talking to ourselves in a positive way every day and not occasionally when we’re reminded to by a post on social media or a friend. That should be a question we constantly ask ourselves; how often do you talk positively to yourself? In fact, just as I posed that question in the midst of writing I had to take a pause and reflect on the type of thoughts I have directed at myself so far today. So far, it seems I have been focused on my to-do list rather than trolling myself. But I know the inner critic is always there in the background waiting for a moment to rudely appear. I am conscious of that, but I am also conscious of curbing it straight away because a negative thought tends to linger on far longer than a positive one.
Self-reflection is something we need to do more of and I have been incorporating this into my empowerment workshops with questions such as ‘Do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?’ Now, that was an interesting question because it turns out that many women ask questions at work but not in their personal lives. It really is an awakening when you discover these things about yourself…but it seems we need to be prompted to self-reflect.
Being ok with being uncomfortable
Of course, self-reflection can be uncomfortable and it’s why many people avoid it, but when you embrace it and really get into exploring what is uncomfortable, it can be very empowering. That is not to say I am not exempt from avoiding an uncomfortable question. Only recently I joined an online writer’s workshop where we were asked to describe a feeling or emotion without naming it. I chose to write about joy, but it was only after that I realised, I had chosen the easy route by writing about a feel-good emotion rather than one that would make me feel uncomfortable.
But I have made up for it since then and wrote about the emotions I previously didn’t want to visit. This reveals another layer of empowerment, because we talk about power and strength but there is also another important aspect, vulnerability. Something that, at the beginning of this year I wouldn’t have openly been able to do until I created my own definition of empowerment, and yes I am even embracing the punchy side (only when needed of course!)
Discovering other people's definition of empowerment is what I'm currently doing on my podcast Empowered Thinking at Play, as well as exploring the elements of feeling empowered and how we can get more of that feeling into our lives. Also, find out more
about our online courses; B.E.A.M - Be Empowered Adjust the Mindset.