Empowerment - one of many overused words, along with transformation and engagement. Actually, they are all perfectly good words with real meaning and with one thing in common – they all come from within.
We can’t empower each other. And we can’t transform or engage each other. If someone says they are “empowering you” to do something, it means they are assigning you that responsibility and placing you under the umbrella of their authority to make it happen. You are the one generating the energy to make it happen. As Harvard’s John Kotter has said “leadership is getting people to want to do what you want them to do.” Someone can create the environment for empowerment, but we have to step up and bring our own fire.
If you attend a workshop on personal transformation, someone will do the design and facilitation but you will transform yourself by what you choose to allow – to open yourself to new ideas, and allow those ideas to change your perspective. And if you’re standing in your power, you will decide what you allow.
And any group or organization can try to create an environment that will interest you and make you curious and involved, but to truly become engaged in that group, you must find it in alignment with your values, and commit to the point of being willing to offer discretionary effort toward its goals and your part in them
Many people get into Spiritual paths because they have personally experienced the consequences of having someone exert power over some aspect of their lives – or their whole lives, and they are looking for recovery.
Unfortunately, some of those spiritual paths have themselves been the agents of those experiences.
If someone tries to tell you their path is the one true path, the appropriate strategy is to run. Being an autonomous Spiritual being means we do not accept the word of anyone outside ourselves for what is right for us. That is empowerment.
Which is one reason I wrote Reclaiming Your Sacred Path, with the emphasis on the word your.
Being empowered happens on the inside. It is the power to – claiming the power and the right to define yourself, have your values reflected in the way you live, the people and things you choose to have surround you.
So how do we light our own fire? First, we decide what is worth our effort and create a vision for our life path. Next, we clean out the fire pit by doing our inner work - our shadow work - to release the grief, fear, guilt and shame that cause us not to believe in our own power. Then, by seeking the uplifting, hopeful, joyful, engaging fuel of experiences and relationships that teach us how strong we really are and building a new fire.
And finally, by looking back on those experiences, and our entire lives, and counting our strengths and successes - the real ones - that show even us that we are worthy of our lives. And we simply refuse to accept anything that does not resonate with our highest good.
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