Eskom might not be able to give you power but hopefully, this article can empower you. Various dictionaries have different definitions for the word empowerment, my personal favourite is that of the Cambridge Dictionary: “the process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want or to control what happens to you.” What I like about this definition is that it does not limit how one can be empowered. Empowerment is something we can give to each other and something we can take for ourselves. But why would you want to be empowered?

According to an article by Rachel Boswell, there are many benefits to empowering oneself. Some of these benefits include feeling more confident as you are in charge of making decisions. You might lead a happier and more fulfilling life. You may also be able to achieve goals more easily and be able to develop yourself both personally and professionally. You can enjoy having the freedom to make decisions that are in your best interest. It also gives you responsibility for your happiness as you cannot rely on other people to make you happy. Self-empowered people act from a seat of self-worth. When you feel self- empowered, you can identify the areas of your life where you need to make changes to achieve your goals.

Knowing that being empowered can be so beneficial you might want to ask how you can empower yourself.

  1. You can start by increasing your self-awareness. Be aware of both your strengths and weaknesses. Rely on your strengths and work on your weaknesses to reach the goals that you set for yourself. When you know your strengths, you can start to believe in yourself and that you have what it takes to achieve your goals.
  2. Challenge yourself to increase your knowledge and improve your skills. When you gain expertise and become good at something you will feel good about yourself.
  3. Set SMART goals. This acronym holds the key to setting realistic goals. Make sure that when you set a goal for yourself it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time- bound. When you have a SMART goal, the chances of achieving it become much higher as you can break your plan of action into small attainable steps. It ensures that you remain motivated and monitor your progress.
  4. Surround yourself with the right people. This refers to people who share similar values to you, people who are positive and encouraging. We need people who can challenge us to ensure we stay on track.
  5. Assert yourself. Set out clear boundaries that will protect your well-being. Remember that setting boundaries, like saying “no” does not make you a selfish person. As the saying goes: “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Communicate your ideas and opinions clearly and respectfully. This links to the final tip for empowering yourself which is self- care. Make sure you get enough sleep, that you eat healthy, groom yourself, and make time for fun. If you want to function at your best you need to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Be sure to make time for each of these facets of your life.

When we are empowered and reaping the positive effects thereof, we might also want to share that with others as we set a new standard of what a happy self-fulfilled person looks like. So how can we empower others?

We want to be empowered both individually and as a community. An article shared by Maryville University highlights several ways in which we can empower ourselves as a community, which is especially important now after the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Firstly we should share our knowledge as it can be transformative. It can bring people together and lead to social change. If you learned something that made life better, or even healthier, then share that with others.
  2. Tell your story. Each of us has gone through our own set of hardships and we can learn from those hardships and come out stronger on the other side. When you share your story, you normalize it and it might just reach people who have dealt with negative emotions such as guilt or shame. Your story might just spread hope during difficult times.
  3. You should also listen to other people’s stories. It was Ken Schramm who said that a smart person learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise person learns from the mistakes of others. Do note that making mistakes is not something we should be ashamed of, as humans we all make mistakes but it is important that we learn from them, or else we will never grow to reach our full potential. Listening to other people with true empathy can also be empowering in itself. People want to be seen and heard. Listening is crucial in effective communication and can make conflict resolution easier.
  4. Stand up for others. An empowered person will not just stand up for their rights but also the rights of others. Use your strengths, whatever they may be to promote justice and equity. The whole world needs courageous and empowered people to stand up against corruption and unethical behaviour.
  5. Embrace positivity and share it with others as it can have positive effects on the mind and the body. As the Maryville article states: “Positivity breeds positivity”. When a person is positive, a neurotransmitter called serotonin is released and it is responsible for feelings of happiness and calmness. A calm mind is also a lot more productive than a stressed mind.
  6. Finally, build support networks. Strong support systems help individuals cope with life’s challenges. They can also enhance a person’s self-esteem, ease the effects of emotional distress, and even lower a person’s blood pressure. A support network of family, friends, co-workers, and classmates often plays an instrumental role in people’s ability to achieve their goals.

To summarise, the benefits of being empowered both as an individual and a community is profuse. If we can start empowering ourselves and our communities, we can only hope it leads to significant social change that would empower our entire nation for the better.

Author: Megan Gericke

Bibliography

Boswell, R. (2022, July 16). The benefits of self-empowerment. Rachel Boswell Coaching. Retrieved August 23, 2023, from https://rachel-boswell.com/the-benefits-of-self-empower- ment/#:~:text=Here%20are%20just%20some%20of%20the%20bene- fits%20of%20Self%2DEmpowerment.&text=Have%20the%20be- lief%20and%20power,you%20feel%20happier%20in%20life

Cambridge Dictionary. (2023). Empowerment. In Cambridge Dictionary.org. Retrieved August 23, 2023, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/empowerment

Maryville University. (2023). Empower each other: 6 ways to spread purpose, resilience, and joy. Maryville. Retrieved 23 August, 2023, from https://online.maryville.edu/blog/empower- each-other/

Master Class. (2022, November 14). Self-empowerment: how to increase personal empowerment. Master Class. Retrieved 23 August, 2023, from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/self- empowerment