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What is Empowerment?

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Empowerment is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as "the process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want or to control what happens to you".


There are many types of empowerment, including social, educational, economic, political, and psychological. These vital aspects of society intertwine, and empowerment means something different to everyone.


I focus on psychological empowerment and the ability to gain control over one's thoughts, actions, and feelings, and in some cases, to rebuild self-confidence and self-worth.


We relinquish control for a variety of reasons, often the result of habits we develop in our families and/or careers. For example, parents who don't have a moment to themselves may seem in control of the household, but may not feel in control of their personal freedom and desires. People who aspire to great career heights may find themselves in control of a department but not in control of their free time.


Due to our upbringing, our focus on family/career, or from life-altering events, we may not feel in control of some aspects of our lives. We may have formed habits that are hard to change, or thought patterns that no longer serve us.


As an Empowerment Coach, I help my clients take back that control. Ultimately, I see an empowered person as one who is not afraid to speak their truth, is aligned with their soul's purpose, who appreciates their unique skills and abilities, and who takes steps to transform their dreams to reality.


Let's break that down.


1) Not afraid to speak their truth


I see so many people not taking up the space they deserve in life. My inherent view of the world is that we are all equally important, but so many people believe (or were taught) that they are "lesser than" in some way. I want to pay attention to those who need a reminder of their inner strength and beauty.


Speaking our truth means we sometimes disagree with others. Have you ever stood in a group of people who all believe the same thing, except you? Do you share your diverse opinion or keep it to yourself?


Chances are, your answer depends on a few things, such as how strongly held your own belief is, how well you know the other people, and whether you perceive the group as being a safe space.


Disagreements can be uncomfortable, it's true. And yet, some people will put up with daily discomfort for the sake of avoiding a single uncomfortable conversation.


Speaking truth doesn't mean arguing or complaining. It's your view of the world. When delivered in a respectful manner, in the right environment, speaking your truth is very empowering.


Ask yourself, where can you speak your truth more often? Where do you hold back?


2) Aligned with their soul's purpose


For me, the word "soul" refers to my core essence. My sense of knowing. When I'm aligned with my soul's purpose, I feel whole, complete, unified, and at peace.


When I'm not aligned, I feel scattered, off kilter, anxious, and like I'm on the wrong path. Something doesn't feel right, but I'm not sure what it is.


If the term "soul" throws you off or sounds too out there, then try using values or a similar word that resonates.


In order to be aligned with your soul's purpose, you need to truly know yourself from a variety of perspectives. What are your values? What core beliefs do you hold? What triggers you? What calms you? Where do you feel most alive?


3) Appreciates their unique skills and abilities


Sometimes, when we do things differently from other people, we think ourselves faulty for the "special" way we think or process. It makes me think back to a time when left-handed people were forced to write with their right hand. People were made to feel wrong for doing what came naturally.


We know better now for handwriting. So why can't this same learning be applied to how we deal with stress, to-do lists, arguments, decisions, career choices, family life and more?


For example, I am what is known as a "verbal processor". Put simply, I think better when speaking out loud, especially with other people, but even on my own or to my dogs. Dogs make great conversationalists! ;) Basically, I make sense of the world by vocalizing thoughts, feelings and ideas.


Internal processors, on the other hand, tend to think things through in their head, and are slower to express their thoughts and feelings out loud.


One is not better than the other. We all have different ways of processing information and reaching decisions. Knowing which way works best for us enables us to tap into our strengths and create an optimal environment for our best selves.


The point is this: your unique set of skills and abilities is needed in the world. In the same way that the best teams are made of complementary skill sets, your uniqueness is valuable. There is no one exactly like you.


Getting over the conditioning of needing to be/look/sound/think like everyone else is challenging but transformative. What is one aspect of yourself that you truly appreciate and feel proud of?


4) Takes steps to transform their dreams to reality


You may speak your truth, be aligned with your soul and your values, and appreciate your own uniqueness, but if you don't take steps forward, then you are preventing the world from benefiting from all you have to offer. And when I say "the world", I mean any small part of the world. The world is made up of small communities. Any time we affect even the smallest community of 2 people, we are affecting the world.


There are so many people with brilliant ideas around the world. The ones who become successful are the ones who take steps to put those ideas into reality. Finding the right steps to take is key, and again should be aligned with your goals, values, and strengths.


What's one step you could take today to move one of your dreams forward?


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