The notion of empowerment is word that has crept into various areas such as Freudian psychology, theology, the Black Power movement, Gandhism, and feminism.
You might remember the 1980 classic “9 to 5” starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. For the young ones reading this, the basic premise goes like this: Three working women get fed up with their overbearing, sexist boss and hold him captive, while they run the company, instituting novel corporate policies like flex start times, on premise childcare, and little things like personal pictures on desks. It appears to be the embodiment of empowerment.
But what is empowerment in reality? Let’s first talk about what empowerment isn’t and then what it really looks like and how you can find it for yourself.
What empowerment isn’t
Empowerment is not a temporary emotional state. True empowerment is not merely a feeling. But there are a lot of ways to get that false, fleeting feeling. Seminars, motivational speakers, and books—they fill up their own section at the bookstore—are great at giving pep talks: You can do it! You’re enough! Girl Power! But what happens when you leave the seminar, the speaker walks off stage, or you finish the book?
You’re back to where you started quicker than you thought.
The second thing that empowerment is not is control. We all want to feel in control, of our environment, of our thoughts and our feelings, and of situations, circumstances or even another person’s behavior. If we can control it, we get predictability and consistency. That need for control is embedded in us, as a way to ensure our physiological and safety needs as human beings.
But it doesn’t take very long for anyone to understand that it’s difficult and near impossible to be in total control of any situation or person. If you associate empowerment with control, it’s no wonder you feel deflated, discouraged and overwhelmed.
So what is empowerment?
We believe that when you feel truly empowered, you are free from the need for a specific outcome. If you only feel empowered when you achieve a goal or a milestone, that means the whole rest of the journey, you don’t get to appreciate it, acknowledge it, or feel empowered along the way. True empowerment is deciding you want to do something and enjoying every piece of that journey. Whether you succeed or not, you were still empowered enough to do it.
Secondly, empowerment is knowing in your bones that you’re unbreakable. You might crack a little, but you know you’ll be OK.
We believe that everyone deserves to feel empowered in all aspects of your life, and no matter what happens or what comes at you, you know you’re going to be OK. When we don’t have empowerment, we are often afraid to take a chance or do certain things in life because we are afraid of failing or it might be really painful.
In addition to that, many people feel empowered in certain areas of their life where they have confidence, like in the workplace, but then don’t have that same empowerment in other areas, such as personal relationships.
Empowerment doesn’t have to be relegated to just one area that you feel confident and comfortable in. And it really shouldn’t be. At Transform Through Therapy, our passion is to help people realize empowerment within themselves—to have long-lasting conviction to handle life’s challenges big and small, and make it through the other side. If you are looking for empowerment in your life that lasts, we can help you get there.