The word “Empower” is used a lot these days – especially with regard to women. There are blogs (like most of mine), networking groups, Facebook groups, and even hashtags, all proposing to help women feel ’empowered’. I love that. Even if the word does have a cheesy-ness to it.
When my 80 year old neighbour heard that I was running workshops for women in my community she shouted out to me “Good! Women of all ages need to feel empowered! We haven’t quite got there yet!”.
The online dictionary includes the definition: “Empower: make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.”
For me, empowerment is about feeling confident enough to feel and be in control of one’s life. This is a huge and broad definition. And I really like to be specific.
As a psychologist I like to break things down into parts, I want to know what cause and effect there is, if any. I need to know what prevents someone feeling empowered and why.
For example, why don’t all of the women senior managers or business owners I know feel empowered to take action when and how they really want to? They are in positions of relative power, they chose to be there, people look to them to make decisions, yet underneath their relatively successful persona, they feel uncertain, unsure, experience self-doubt, double-check with people, or delay making decisions. So what’s missing?
Having mulled it over in my mind, scribbled out various diagrams of words, concepts, psychological constructs that seemingly inter-connect but don’t, discussing with friends over wine, talking it through with other psychologists, I think I know the answer. Oops. No, strike that. There’s no room for self-doubt here: I do know the answer.
Presenting to you my very own “Empower Yourself” model. Ta dah!! It’s the thing that under-pins my workshops, leadership development programmes, events and talks. Everything you’ll see on my website and Facebook page is directly related to this 3-part model. Here’s how it works:
- Self-Awareness – This refers to being aware of your likes, dislikes, values, strengths, areas of development. Then go one level deeper and discover your limiting self-beliefs, that are perpetuated and under-pinned by your negative thoughts about yourself (this is your Inner Critic).By getting to know your Inner Critic you can understand how it has the power to make you feel insecure. Then, really importantly, you can learn to tame your Inner Critic and begin to manage your reaction to it.
- Self-Confidence – This is not simply a state you can achieve (unfortunately). Very much like ‘happiness’, you can experience it to differing degrees but you can never claim to ‘be’ it or ‘have’ it al of the time. This is why we need to continue to work on it every day – there is no quick fix.Your confidence levels fluctuate for different reasons (stress, hormones, tiredness, certain tasks, specific situations, particular people etc, these things can all impact how confident you feel in any given moment. By learning how to harness your self-confidence you can begin to enjoy life more.
- Intention – “Something you want or plan to do”. Now, you may be reading this thinking “I don’t really want to change or improve anything or do anything in particular”, and that’s fine, good for you.However, it’s more likely that if you’re reading this, you are keen to change something in your own life or other’s lives, or you have ambitions, goals, dreams or even just a rough idea of something ‘else. Perhaps you don’t even know ‘what’ it is yet, but are on the look out for answers.
The things that these three elements have in common is that if you lack even just a little bit of one of them, you are not going to feel empowered enough to do the thing you really want to do.
Which element you are most stuck on at the moment?
Perhaps you have a loud and offensive Inner Critic that second-guesses every other thought. It’s tiring and nagging, and very clever because often it goes unnoticed, like a radio playing on quietly in the background.
Perhaps you lack self-confidence that, in some small way on a daily basis, will eventually have a huge negative impact on your life, like thwart your career progress, business success or personal relationships.
Perhaps you’re fine on 1 and 2 but don’t know what action to take or how to go about taking it. Remember, these three elements are all interconnected, so being low on one could limit you on another element.
For now, let me know what’s going on for you at the moment. What specific area do you feel you need to focus on the most? Leave me comments below, or if you want to talk it through, book yourself 30 minutes in my online calender.
Until next time, click this link to like my Facebook page to see my latest posts and what others are sharing.
Meanwhile, please be kind to yourself