Empowerment Through Change

by Mike Lally on January 4, 2013

What is really meant by empowerment? Is it just the same as personal power? Or is it merely a mindset you adopt from time to time as an integral part of some form of personal development process? How can empowerment be recognised? Is there a means by which it can be measured? In truth, it seems to a little tricky attempting to define it.

Well, we know that progress is made and proven through measurement. Something cannot be accepted as a fact unless it can be proven. Fair enough. If something is difficult to measure, how can it be known for certain that any improvement has indeed been made? Perhaps in order to develop your skills it is important to avoid thinking of empowerment as a “buzz” word that gets bandied around to indicate some form of personal power.

The word empowerment obviously contains the word “power”. So, pursuing empowerment suggests that a person must have the opportunity, ability and desire to change something meaningful to gain more power. If follows therefore, that if you cannot change, you cannot become empowered. So, to me, empowerment is about exercising your free will and choosing to make one or more positive changes to your life. It is not about taking control of other people. Actually, I think this often marks the essential difference between men and women when they contemplate the meaning of empowerment.

I guess it is reasonable to say that the relationship between the mind and the body is now understood. The mind and body are different mechanisms, work independently, and can be considered as two separate entities, but they form one composite system. Your mind affects your body and your body affects your mind. That’s fine, but how do we know this is actually true?

It can be proven that the mind directly affects the body. A simple example of this is with the widespread use of placebos. Think you are being cured and the brain responds and sends the good news to the body. Recovery is underway. Now, the body also plays a leading, pivotal role in this happy, empowering two-way relationship. The moment you feel stressed, your body produces cortisol, the stress hormone. This response can be measured and proven. Cortisol release needs to be controlled to avoid future medical problems. If you have an oversupply of cortisol in your body you will think, feel and act stressed.

If you also add your emotions, behaviour and actions to the mind and body mix, you get an accurate picture of what happens neurologically, emotionally and physiologically to the body. This combination, of course, produces your behaviour which derives your results. So, how you think, feel and behave produces your results. And it comes down to personal choice.

In my view, it is probably easier for men to feel empowered and exercise personal power than women. This, in essence, is due to the bias against women in all kinds of areas. However, empowerment for women generally comes down to the same thing – understanding boundaries, choosing to be self-sufficient, and taking control.

In truth, we also recognise that change is a constant and unavoidable. Since we realise that we are at liberty to learn any number of processes to create the change we want, this provides us with an opportunity to become empowered. We can change almost anything we choose, and at any time, providing we make the decision and are serious about learning and applying the techniques of change. Making these positive choices and following through by taking action is empowerment. Free will and being in a motivated state can work wonders.

So, accepting there are areas in our lives that need to change and deciding to take action to address these areas leads directly to empowerment. Perhaps it boils down to the way in which we control how we process our thoughts and emotions because these actions fundamentally affect the way we choose to behave.

Empowerment involves accepting you have control over your life. Your thoughts, your beliefs, and your values are the drivers that determine how you think, feel and the way in which you decide to act.

If you want to empower people, you need to encourage them to take personal responsibility for the choices they make. Empowering people in this way can be really fulfilling. We do have free choice and we need to exercise this to experience the joys of empowerment.

A simple step you can take is to do a kind of stocktake of your habits. Write down your desirable and undesirable habits. Then take credit for your positive habits. Well done! Now select one of the undesirable habits and choose to either eliminate it or replace it. In due course, this will lead to empowerment. How can this be done? This will be the topic of further article quite soon.

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