We all experience moments where we doubt ourselves, beat ourselves up over something we did or said, or hold back from going for what we really want.
We might hear a lot about empowerment these days, but what does it really mean to be empowered?
Inside each of us is a vast reserve of personal power and influence. When we tap into these self-empowerment tips, we can greatly affect our path, attitude, and actions with a shift in our thoughts. Even better? We can influence and empower others in our lives as well.
Are you ready to tap into your reserve of power? Follow these self-empowerment tips to summon the strength and courage to go for what you want!
Empowerment has become something of a buzzword of late. Many people talk about empowering themselves or empowering others, but what does it really mean? Power means to do work or have influence. So if we want to empower ourselves, we need to understand how we work and recognize the influence we hold over ourselves and those around us.
We may think we don’t have a big circle of influence, especially if we work from home or in a small office. After all, how do we empower and influence others when we only see a few people each day? Well, believe it or not, each of us has an extensive circle of influence—much broader than we may think.
We directly influence those we interact with each day, creating a ripple effect. This influence works with both positive and negative actions. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that we’re 61% more likely to be a smoker if a friend smokes. Even more surprising? If a friend of a friend smokes, we’re still 11% more likely to smoke!
Amazingly enough, the same levels of influence hold true for our happiness and satisfaction too. If the friend of a friend OF A FRIEND is happy with their life, we’re 6% more likely to feel happy with our own life. Granted, 6% might not seem like a significant percentage, but if we surround ourselves directly with several happy friends, our chances of satisfaction continue to rise!
We’ve all heard the theory that we’re separated by 6 degrees—meaning that we’re only six connections away from every person on the planet. Recent research has found that this may be even closer, and most of us average between 3.5-4.5 degrees of separation. With social media and an increasingly global society, this number continues to shrink.
Learning to empower ourselves means tapping into this reserve of personal power and influence—examining our relationship with that power. As we recognize, embrace, and grow in our personal power, we are likely to have even more impact on those in our world. In other words, the more we are ourselves, the more power we manifest into the world and the more influence we have on others. The more we’re guided by what matters to us, the more personal power—self-empowerment—we have.
So how do we tap into our power? When we discover our strengths, preferences, likes, and dislikes, it helps us find the path to self-empowerment. The better we know ourselves, the more attuned we will be to the things that empower us. Many people aren’t sure what they really want out of life. They’ve tried to go with the flow, allowing life to happen TO them rather than creating the life they want to live.
During our Year of More program, our students tackle weekly assignments where they challenge their worldviews. They examine different aspects of their personalities and explore new ways to elicit actions and reactions from those around them. We call the work “the assignment way of living.” Each day in life, we’re choosing to try something new, work on a new project, make a new discovery, and take steps to unearth our potential.
Students often find out that they didn’t know what they wanted before starting the Year of More. They may have believed that they wanted money, a bigger house, an attractive partner, or lots of friends, but those wants weren’t really meeting their underlying yearnings. Our yearnings are bigger, deeper spiritual wants and hungers that we each hold.
When we explore our yearnings, it also helps us explore our preferences—what do we like? What do we prefer? Most of us try to read and cater to the wants of the outside world. In the back of our minds, we may wonder, “What do they want me to be? How can I please them? I don’t want to make them upset. I want to fit in. I want to belong.”
These ideas and beliefs guide our behavior. We want to make others comfortable. We don’t want to make them upset. But we’re not asking, “What would please me? What would satisfy me? What are my preferences?” These questions can guide us toward our personal power.
One assignment we explore during the Year of More is to discover what we like. Each student spends time exploring the question, “What do I like?” It sounds simple, but the discoveries are often profound. They also explore, “what don’t I like? What do I agree with? What don’t I agree with?” and then take on the challenge to voice those feelings.
Most of us haven’t practiced awareness of what we really yearn for, what we care about, and what we need to feel satisfied. When we dive into these questions and start expressing our feelings, we may be surprised at how quickly we actually get what we want.
As we think about these questions, we can dig in deeper by adding “so that” to the end of the want. The “so that” technique helps us drill down beneath the want and uncover the underlying yearning. For example, “I want a promotion so that I earn more money. I want to earn more money so that I can pay my bills. I want to pay my bills so that I feel more secure about my finances….” In this case, the underlying yearning is to feel secure.
Once we identify our yearnings, we can start seeking multiple ways to get them met by asking for them and recognizing opportunities to address our needs. This self-empowerment begins by identifying what we like and don’t like; then, we can better empower ourselves to become the person we want to be.
Another tough assignment we tackle in the Year of More is to empower ourselves by learning to displease others willingly. Let me say this is a TOUGH assignment for many students. But as they start to explore the power of “displeasing,” they often realize that it doesn’t mean being a jerk. Letting ourselves displease others often means learning how to set appropriate boundaries and learning to say no.
For example, maybe we’ve received a really difficult work assignment with an unrealistic deadline. Rather than being a Yes Man or Yes Woman and then stressing out about the impending failure, we can find more self-empowerment by speaking up and setting parameters. We can say, “I don’t know if I can complete this project in the given timeframe. I’m willing to work on it, but I will need these resources,” or, “I’ll take this on, but I will need more time to give it my best—can I have until Friday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning?”
It may sound daunting at first, but we can ask ourselves, what’s the worst that could happen in the situation? Our boss could say, “No. It has to get done.” And yes, that’s a real possibility, but isn’t it far more likely that when we express our concerns calmly and realistically, our boss will respect our candor and facilitate our success? This is especially likely if we’ve built a trusting relationship with our boss.
When we learn to negotiate in a way that works best for us, it’s empowering. We can learn to negotiate in a conversation with our spouse—“I’ll pick up the dry cleaning, you pick up the groceries,” or, “I’ll do the dishes, you get the kids ready for school.” By learning to speak up rather than acquiesce, we’re empowered. Our time becomes our own.
It’s quite human to operate with loss aversion. Most people will go to greater lengths to avoid loss than to make gains. We’re often more afraid of what we’ll lose by taking a risk and trying something new than the joy we could gain from the experience.
So what do we do? We avoid asking for things. We think, “I don’t want my friend to feel upset with me, so I’d better not ask.” We skirt issues. We don’t express our feelings.
On the other hand, what if we empowered ourselves to go for what we wanted? When we worry about others’ reactions, we might lose sight of what really matters. We’re often making unfounded predictions about their feelings too. We forgo the possible satisfaction because we don’t want to disrupt a norm or rock the boat.
But instead of avoiding loss, what if we allowed ourselves to fire up the motor on the boat and move towards what we really wanted? Think of the reward—the pleasure and satisfaction of getting what we really need and what would please us in the situation. We can empower ourselves to move toward the reward rather than fearing and avoiding the possible risk of loss.
We all hold mistaken or limiting beliefs. It’s part of being human. Since childhood, we’ve carried these ideas with us, and they’re often challenging to identify and let go.
Mistaken beliefs might include thoughts like:
These are all mistaken beliefs that can profoundly affect our sense of self. These come from a belief that we’re undeserving, less than others, or must earn love and support. If we felt worthy, we’d feel empowered to ask directly for the things that satisfy and nourish us.
First, we can recognize that these beliefs are totally normal. Everyone has them. But we can speak kindly and lovingly to ourselves, saying, “I might not feel worthy right now, but I am a gift to others,” or, “If I believed that I had value, what would I say? How would I speak up?” or, better still, “what would I tell a friend in this situation?”
We often empower our friends and help them feel better about themselves. Then when we speak to ourselves internally, we are critical and harsh. When we start to become our own friends, we will start to talk to ourselves with kindness and understanding. Our mistaken beliefs are often synonymous with disempowering ideas. But the truth is that each of us is worthy and valuable. We are a gift to the world with a vast amount of influence and potential. When we shift our focus to remind ourselves of our worth, we can tap into that essential personal power.
To discover more about living up to your full potential, don’t miss our resources on Wright Now. We have many different courses available to help you discover more about yourself, your relationships, and your career. Get MORE today!
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.