E – Empowerment

Day 6

Whenever I think of the word empowerment, my thoughts automatically go to my niece's words of encouragement "Access your power, Auntie, access your power!" while I played Wii Mario Kart with her, which you can read about here.

If you have children, or work with children, you're likely familiar with that proud look of accomplishment a child gets when they have managed to succeed in some task, regardless of size or scope. This is not characterized by self-judgement, wondering if it was good enough, or comparing the results with someone else - that often comes later, sadly.

When I am feeling most empowered, I feel a deep sense of contentment or satisfaction that comes from my heart. This is a knowingness that I am able to do something and if I can't, I am able to learn or find the necessary resources to get the task done.

During stressful times, you may feel like a tourist in a strange land, without a map, a dictionary, your cell phone or a trusty companion to guide you to your destination. You lose your way.

You find your way when you learn stress techniques that work and that they can be done in the midst of stress. You grow stronger, less reactionary, more productive and creative in your problem-solving. That's power, knowing you did it.

Make a list of the times when you felt strong, secure or capable. Like the time when you perfected the pie crust, swam across the pool for the first time, wrote the just-right thank you note...you get the idea. (Note that these do not have to be Herculean, climbing-Mount-Everest types of feats. Use the everyday, ordinary, often forgot-about-it things that you do - the things over which others may marvel.) How do you feel as you look over the list? Pretty good, right? You've just changed that chemical cascade that occurs with how you breathe, think and feel.

Be wary of the ugly face of self-judgement that might appear. Phrases like "I can't", "never", "not good enough", "it's not important" rob you of your power - they drop you into the simmering cauldron of stress. They're like silent intruders, entering through the back door of your mind. If you find that they're popping up as you do this exercise, do what you would do with the volume on your radio when it is too loud - turn it off or turn it down.

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4 Replies to “E – Empowerment”

  1. I love your suggestion of thinking of past examples in which you have mastered various challenges and making a list of them so as to be able to refer back to them – this form of empowerment is a type of positive experiencing leads to rewiring of the neurons in our brain [neuroplasticity] so that we will feel better and stronger.

  2. To supplement what I said above, as Rick Hanson explains in his article: HOw to Grow the Good in Your Brain at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_grow_the_good_in_your_brain, “The brain is the organ that learns, so it is designed to be changed by your experiences… Day after day, your mind is building your brain… Based on what we’ve learned about experience-dependent neuroplasticity, a modern version would be that the brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon… if you keep resting your mind on good events and conditions (someone was nice to you, there’s a roof over your head), pleasant feelings, the things you do get done, physical pleasures, and your good intentions and qualities, then over time your brain will take a different shape, one with strength and resilience hard-wired into it, as well as a realistically optimistic outlook, positive mood, and a sense of worth…”

    1. It is so important to be mindful of where our thoughts go. When we’re not, often they end up going into the dark, which ends up triggering the stress response, and leads to more dark thoughts. Thanks for this invaluable quote, Dorlee.

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