The Power Continuum
Everyone of us is somewhere along the victimhood-empowerment continuum. Let me explain. Imagine a line that stretches across a page and at one end of this line there is a callout that says ‘Absolute Victim’ followed by ‘helpless’, then something like ‘plays the victim most of the time’, up to a point where it is less in victimhood and more into self-emporwment such as ‘feels confident and grateful’, ‘self-driven and motivated’ up to the other end of the line that says ‘Absolute self-empowerment’. Well, we are all somewhere along that line with the average clustered somewhere in the middle section.
This victim-empowerment line is of course an abstraction but one that is quite representative of how the human experience can be anywhere from feeling absolutely a pure victim of life, together with all the aggravated emotions of self-pity and helplessness that come with it, to real self-empowerment. What’s even true is that even as individuals we can move up and down the scale various times throughout our life although we will always get stable around a baseline, and once we get out of a certain victimhood mentality, it’s very hard to get back below that baseline for more than a short period of time.
Feeling a victim of life circumstances, other people, and conditions that you feel restricted by, is something that every person has felt at some point in life. It is a very common and default programming mode in our social upbringing. For many people, being the victim is also a deep-rooted self-identification. They literally have an identity and self-image of being a victim and they will fiercely guard it if someone tries to show them that they are in fact not victims to life at all. As you can imagine, if you really identify yourself with victimhood, then two things will happen. The first is that life will always bring you together with people who will be narcissists, abusers or broken in a way that they will use that relationship to make you feel even more victimised.
The other thing is that you will naturally interpret most life situations from a victim point of view and thus you will keep on reinforcing your victimhood mentality by seeing everything behind dark lenses.
Self-empowered people, on the other hand will have at some point in their life worked really hard on their self-image, that is, how they feel, think and see themselves. Self-image is at the root of your self-expression and how you present yourself to the world. So to be self-empowered is really to first of all clear your self-image from any traces of victimhood. That is where the ground-work is.
Step #1into Self-Empowerment
To start the first step out of victimhood and into self-empowerment requires us to overcome an important obstacle – the feeling that we are victims to things outside of ourselves such as the circumstances, relationships and experiences we face.
This is perhaps the only real hard work or hard shift because it requires manoeuvring ourselves away from deep seated beliefs and conditioning that are ingrained at the core of our operating system – our unconscious mind. Hence the shift cannot happen suddenly or overnight (although there will always be exceptions to any rule). We need to gradually soften up and open up to the uncomfortable (at first) realisation that we are only victims to ourselves and that we have full responsibility on what we experience and face in life but more importantly that we always have a choice on how to react, what response or path to take in a given situation.
Self-empowerment arises first out of this realisation but more importantly in taking on the responsibility. This is key. Victimhood is an avoidance or more often, an abdication of our responsibility to be in charge of our life. To stay in victimhood mode is to somehow choosing to refrain from claiming back your power and find it ‘easier’ to hand over your power to someone or something else. Truth is, it’s easier to blame someone else for your misgivings rather than taking one good look at the situation, finding what part of your behaviour or mental attitude triggered it and then taking the necessary steps to correct it.
Step #2 into Self-Empowerment
In fact self-empowered people are course-correcting their lives constantly and this is the second important key. To be self-empowered does not mean to be perfect or winning at the game of life all the time. It means being fully aware of what is happening in your life – good or bad – and then taking both responsibility for the mistakes and owning the achievements. The mistakes are even more important when you are self-empowered because you see the huge opportunity in them for growth and moving forward into even greater trust and self-empowerment.
A self-empowered person is someone who doesn’t break down easily in adversity because he or she recognises that each time something comes against them, they know that all they have to do is to understand quickly what is it in them that is going against the flow and creating disharmony or turbulence, then of course, course-correct without falling into self-pity, shame and blame.
Step #3 into Self-Empowerment
And here comes the third important key. To be self-empowered is to be emotionally free as much as possible from the lower vibrational feelings of guilt, shame, and blame. It’s not that these feelings won’t come up at all. It’s more that you stay more vigilant to pick up those emotions when they arise rather than allowing them to rule your day or your life.
I hear people saying all the time that it is so hard to deal with these deep seated feelings and emotions. But it is hard once they are running the script very unconsciously and letting it be. It is obviously much harder to steer the ship when you are in the emotional storm than steer the ship away from an incoming storm. So self-empowered people are not skilful at manoeuvring themselves out of a heave storm (although they could be) but they are responsible captains that will keep their eyes on the horizon for any signs of it and clear their path before they find themselves in trouble.
The ultimate test for self-empowerment is then to see how much of your life areas you can take responsibility of and how much power you are ready to claim back – and this includes failures and heartbreaks. The more of it you can take and claim into your own power and responsibility the more empowered you become.
Another last point to tie in with the comments above is the idea that we need to rely less on what is happening outside of us to feel empowered. This is a crucial point too because the reason why it is called Self-empowerment is that it is inner driven.
This is why self-empowerment goes hand-in-hand with being self-driven. You do not need approval, validation or appreciation from people or circumstances outside of you (although it is OK to welcome these) to feel empowered. This kind of empowerment is usually very short lived and a short time later you will feel that while it is not there, the power has shifted again and you need to rely on another shot of external encouragement to get you back feeling good.
The idea here is then to appreciate yourself first and cut back slowly from needing cues outside of you to make you feel appreciated. Self-appreciation is not a result of outward appreciation but rather outer appreciation happens more often when you learn to appreciate yourself first because then you will be transmitting that information to others who will pick up on it and resonate with it.