The concept of women’s empowerment has nothing to do with power-over. People who need to assert power over others are generally insecure on a deep level and need to control others in order to make themselves feel better. Women’s empowerment is about personal power, which cannot be conferred externally. It comes from inside, from a deep knowing of right-ness. It is not about ego, it is about being fully yourself and knowing that in doing that alone you are of value. Generally, people who are in their personal power are confident and honest. They have nothing to hide. They do things well, because they are motivated by energy that flows through them naturally, making them easily creative. They may inspire anxiety and dislike in people who do have something to hide and are trying to project an image of something they are not. They are not always popular.
How does anyone step into her personal power? It’s about understanding that we are all unique individuals, different and equal. It’s about stepping out of the box, refusing to allow external restraints to affect us internally, and making conscious choices about what we really want, instead of going along with the norm. It’s about allowing creativity—which is also life-force, which is also power—to flow through us and manifest as it chooses, rather than trying to force it to manifest in a particular way, in an effort to fit in and gain approval. It’s about expecting respect and treating people from all walks of life with respect. It’s about concerning oneself more with inner beauty—which means truth and integrity—than with external appearances.
Clearly it is much easier to believe in one’s value when one has always been treated as valuable, and it is very important for us to bring up our children with a knowledge of their right to be treated respectfully. It is especially important to educate children around sexual issues so that they develop a concept of their right to occupy their own bodies and their personal space without being invaded. But it’s very possible for women to develop a sense of their personal power even when they have spent their lives being victimized. It’s a matter of getting in touch with feelings other than fear, so there is something else to project instead of fear. Anger is often the oomph a woman needs. If a woman is encouraged to nurture a sense of outrage at the feeling of being disrespected, then that outrage will be projected when she feels disrespected, and most perpetrators will be reluctant to mess with her.
Life is a process of moving on that never ends. Anger, or outrage, is a useful tool at certain stages in the process, but in the long run, if we hold onto it, we are subscribing to a negative view of reality. Taking responsibility for all aspects of our lives, instead of blaming others, is vital. There is a thin line here between blaming the victim and refusing to be a victim. It is necessary for us to recognize that we have been victims, and perhaps still are, before we can move out of that role. Being a victim is always unpleasant, but truthfully it is not a bad experience to have known. It encourages unjudgmental compassion, which is an essential element of being in one’s personal power.
This article first appeared in Diva Toolbox.