Paths to Empowerment

by Diane Brandon

What is Personal Empowerment?

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We hear a lot about empowerment these days. Becoming empowered is regarded as a desirable state to attain -- and definitely a desirable state in which to live one's life. But how do we attain that state; how do we empower ourselves?

In this piece, I'd like to look at what empowerment is and how we might move toward that desirable condition.

What is Empowerment?

First of all, to paraphrase Cole Porter, "what is this thing called" empowerment? I believe we first regarded empowerment as desirable as a reaction against "giving one's power away" or being "powerless." To be empowered is to have control over one's life. (It does not, however, include having power over others' lives.) To be empowered and to have control, or power, over one's life includes having control over all facets of one's life: it means thinking for oneself and taking responsibility for one's life, as well as being active instead of just passive; it means moving past dependence toward independence. It does not mean, however, that we become so empowered and independent that we become islands: to be happily self-empowered, we gain autonomy in our lives, while still feeling a connection to others and our environment. A curious balance between independence and connection. Being connected to others may entail compromise in our relationships. There is a difference, however, between compromise and giving one's power away or sacrificing oneself.

What we are talking about is knowing our own Truth. Knowing our own Truth, knowing who we are -- Self Knowledge -- and trusting in it is powerful stuff. And once knowing our Truth, to then live our lives by it.

To be empowered is to know one's Truth, to think for oneself, to be independent while still feeling a connection, to be active as well as passive, to take responsibility for ourselves. A person who is self-empowered has integrity, with all his parts integrated. A true "whole."

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