That is the question. And the answer to that question, can often make a HUGE difference in how we feel! When we are feeling empowered, it is as if all in our world is:
- in tune
- in line
- things are functioning
- and going well.
However, when we are not feeling empowered, or disempowered, things can tend to feel like they are:
- not working
- we may feel out of sorts
- at worst, depressed
All of these bad feelings because we are basically feeling like we lack the control or power to effect our life’s outcome.
Hence, a key component of the word “empowerment” and to feel “empowered”, is the word POWER.
When we feel like we are in our power, when we feel like we have the ability, the skill, and the means to have a positive effect on our lives. We tend to feel good, very good in fact, often with an accompanying greater sense of aliveness, and zest for life.
So What Goes Wrong?
What goes wrong indeed?
Why do we often times lose our sense of personal power?
I believe that we lose our sense of personal power when we give it over to someone or something.
Giving Away Our Power To Someone
In the case of someone, this would involve giving the power and control of our destiny over to another individual. And this may come in very subtle ways, such as:
- not being happy unless our partner is happy
- basing our happiness or self worth upon another’s achievements
- feeling like we are completely responsible for whether things go well in a close personal relationship (in this case, this may be taking on too much responsibility)
The net effect, is that we base our personal happiness and well-being, upon someone whose behaviour we may have little or no control over. The net result is that we may feel miserable and powerless.
Example: A prime example of giving our power to another occurs when we base our happiness upon whether or not our partner is happy. And in return, we may hold them accountable for our own personal happiness.
What inevitably happens, is that any positive feelings in the relationship tend to be overshadowed by feelings of unhappiness, that we attribute the responsibility for onto our partners.
Not taking responsibility for our own happiness, is a formula for creating misery in our personal relationships I believe. While I do believe that our actions contribute to the overall climate of the couple. It might be best not to hold ourselves personally and fully responsible for our partner’s happiness. But we can help them to find their happiness, as they can hopefully help us to find ours.
Giving Away Our Power To Something
In this case, we are aligning our personal well-being with possibly an organization, such as an employer, or possibly some event, such as an environmental conference.
The ways in which we may give up our personal power, and therefore cause us to feel badly could be as follows:
- If our company does well, then we can feel well
- If our team wins, then we can feel good
- If the representative or party that we want to win does, then we can feel happy
- If a certain result, say in a meeting, or conference is attained, then we feel good
Example: Personally, I remember working for a major retail organization, and the boss would sometimes visit from headquarters. He would look at the previous day’s sales results on the screen. If they were down, we were all expected to feel down, the more down the better, as a way of showing that we cared or were dedicated.
Now a key point I ought to mention about this story, is that I worked in Finance in this company, not in Sales, nor in Marketing, and had virtually no control over what the previous day’s sales were! Suffice to say, it made me, and possibly a lot of us feel very disempowered. But it didn’t take very long to feign “grave concern” in front of the boss, and then to resume our regular financial analysis activities once he had moved on.
We soon realized, that making ourselves depressed over something we had little control over, nor could we change, was not worth getting depressed over. We focused on moving forward. Something we DID have control over!
In The End
Feeling empowered may come down to very clearly realizing what we have control over, what we don’t, knowing the difference, and being able to let go.
It strikes me that this conclusion resembles the serenity prayer in many ways.
Here it is again for your viewing pleasure.
Feel Empowered! Feel Good!
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.