by Lauren Mackler
Self-empowerment can be defined in many different ways. I define it as knowing who you really are—your strengths and limitations, your interests and passions, and your goals and life purpose—and living a life that honors who you really are. This not only empowers you, but makes you a powerful force out in the world.
We’re all born with innate power, but that power is often diminished by our life conditioning—the role modeling, environment, and experiences we’re exposed to growing up. For example, a little girl might be naturally outgoing and confident, having a grand old time singing and twirling around in her new pretty dress. Then her parent or teacher says, “Quiet down! People don’t like girls who are so full of themselves and loud!” One comment like that can be enough to cause a life-long pattern of suppressing self-expression out of fear of being judged or rejected. Hiding our true thoughts and feelings is just one example of how we give our power away.
Another way that people give away their power is by making others’ approval, needs, or opinions more important than their own. They betray their own truth, experience, and intuition out of fear of not being liked or accepted, but often, that’s just what their approval-seeking behavior produces. People don’t respect chronic “people-pleasers” who lack self-esteem. In fact, more often than not, they take them for granted or even treat them like a doormat, making them feel unvalued or disliked—exactly what the people-pleaser tried hard to avoid.
Honoring who you are and having the courage to do this in your day-to-day life and interactions is not always easy, especially for people whose habitual pattern is to do or say what they think others expect or want. But reclaiming your power by standing up in and for yourself is really the path of least resistance. Constant suppression of your true thoughts, feelings, and needs not only produces feelings of anger and resentment, but it causes internal stress that, over time, can compromise the immune system and make you susceptible to health problems or even life-threatening illnesses.
© 2012 Lauren Mackler
Lauren Mackler is a world-renowned coach and author of the international bestseller Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. To sign up for her free Live Boldly e-newsletter, click here.