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What is Empowerment… really?

Empowered is not loud, brassy, or even obvious. It requires no marching bands, cymbal crashes, or drum rolls to announce its presence. It arises from within, sparked by a desire, need, or possibility.

Empowered is resilient at the broken places, quietly growing in confidence that comes from believing in ourselves. It is us believing in our own value and vision, comparing it to no one, and with no need to ask permission.

Empowered is leaving the past where it sits, refusing to live from any fears or limitations collected earlier in life. It’s having gratitude for the road that brought us here while learning from it to move forward more boldly with expanded vision.

Empowered is quiet strength built from lifting the heavy things in life: disappointment, fear, loss, failure, diagnosis, rejection. . .  and from others who may have been dedicated to keeping us small, afraid, or limited. It is what opens doors, windows, and sometimes even peepholes for a view of what is possible and available. It’s when you say “yes” to yourself and choose differently.

Empowered is assertive, not aggressive. It is knowing we have the right to take up space and draw breath on this earth. Being assertive is an energy-saving—and, sometimes, life-saving—strategy!

Empowered is inspired action aligned with our values, passions, and purposes, arising from a deep sense of self-worth, self-awareness, and self-acceptance.

Helping women and men to live more empowered lives has been my work for four decades. The last ten years have been devoted to leading them to recognize, release, and recover from toxic relationships and emotional abuse. Overcoming the overwhelm of living in abusive relationships begins with a willingness to focus on our own needs rather than only those of others, to validate ourselves as good enough and worthy of love, respect, trust, and safety.

This path to personal autonomy allows us to create healthy relationships expressing equality, reciprocity, and mutuality: things that will never be found in abusive relationships.  Additionally, as I define in my Personal Weather Report™ strategy, “We have the right to say what we think, feel, need, want, prefer, or remember…as long as it does not mention another person by name or pronoun.” This reflection and assertion lead to self-awareness, awakening possibilities for a healthier, empowered future. The authors of this book highlight this by sharing their transformative journeys.

One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Bach and it has informed my choices for decades: “Argue for your limitations, and they are yours.” Giving up those arguments in favor of focusing on passion and purpose is incredibly empowering as the women in this anthology have found. These women have embraced purpose.

Purpose is the reason we do something: the intention or objective. It is wise and worthwhile to know the compelling why behind a choice. That “why” can lift us when things get rough, nourish us when others don’t, and motivate us when we’re unsure or feeling stuck. Purpose helps us calibrate how to spend our time, energy and money. It creates clarity, saves time, and stops us from spinning our wheels, expending energy with no return.

When we start by accepting and affirming that we are good enough despite what we have been told or internalized in our early lives, it feels more possible to be, do, and have more of what we choose in life. We begin to believe that we can move in limitless directions, no matter what has happened before. Openings in our thinking allow us to catch sight of our dreams, desires, and alternate futures. This brings new air that ignites passion, creates purpose, and promises change. Refreshing and inspiring!

Passion makes us excited to awaken to another day, while purpose reminds us of what that day is about and why. Personal power gives us the strength and confidence to make wise choices along the way: empowered ones! This carries us through, happy in the evening to reflect on the satisfaction and gratitude we feel for how that day was spent.

As we emerge empowered each day, we have the autonomy to demonstrate our values, vision, beliefs, and purposes by what we do, consciously and intentionally. We can choose our next steps with clarity and confidence. As women, claiming—or reclaiming—rights is paradigm-shifting, especially in recent times when there is a seeming will to reduce, restrict and rescind them. Our strength to say no to oppression, and self-imposed suppression, must be summoned and our individual and collective rights embraced and embodied.

Wise women don’t settle. We soar…and support one another to do so. Women Speakers Association Founder, Gail Watson knew this. She brought her vision to life and created a safe, encouraging space for women worldwide to gather, connect, mastermind, and mentor one another, collaboratively. Each of us is stronger together.

Our nurturing spirits protect and uplift, putting personal power into positive action. No matter what we may have inherited, adapted, or adopted from our journeys so far, we are empowered when we say no to limitation and yes to possibilities. Recognizing that this journey is ours to start at any minute, we declare it by exercising that personal power.

Having the opportunity to choose our words, actions, relationships, and points of view is the essence of personal power. We choose the drummer we march to, the direction of the march, and whether we stride forth with conviction. The operant word, though, is “choose.” When excuses arise, or others object, powerful people persist!

This power is not power over others. It is power over and within each of us. It is power to do and be that which arises from the possibilities envisioned and generated, believed in, and created. Use of that power lifts us from dreaming to knowing to doing.

Knowing what we want to achieve provides direction. Knowing how we best share our passion through our purpose creates focus. We are then empowered to take action.

More importantly, though, being empowered means we live our values authentically, out loud, without fear or compromise. Sometimes, that is as quiet as being an unacknowledged role model to a child down the street. Sometimes it’s championing a world-changing idea. And it’s everywhere in between. Bringing our values to life provides a compelling why, clarity for our actions. That’s what matters.

Much gratitude to the brave, empowered, intrepid women who cared enough to walk their talk and share their journeys here, offering you their insights and inspiration to be continuously emerging empowered. You are soaring!

(This article was written as the Foreword to a book compiled by the Women Speaker’s Association – Voices of the 21st Century. You can purchase a copy of that book here.)

What folks have said…
As foretold, my ex got busy trying to engage me on Christmas Day. Thank you, Dr. Shaler for the heads up. Because of this page and your help, I was able to have a wonderful Christmas and not get sucked in ! That’s progress.
~ Client

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