When we consider ways to empower ourselves, our minds often leap to big, bold ideas – asking your boss for a raise, standing up to a bully, or training for a marathon. While these are all wonderful goals, the reality of effective self-empowerment is, thankfully, much more simple. By making small tweaks to the way we respond to the world around us, we can easily change our mindset from one of fear to one of confidence and capability.
Below are six small changes you can make today that will empower you to take charge of your life and make stronger, better choices.
Ask Yourself Empowering Questions
Suppose your daughter comes home from school crying because of a fight with a friend. You are inclined to feel small, helpless, and sad that you cannot fix her problem for her. You may want to ask yourself “why is middle school so hard?”. This is a disempowering question, because the answer is out of your control and would not help the situation anyways. Although it seems like a good alternative, “how can I fix her problem?” is also a disempowering question, because you likely can’t. “What can I do to make this afternoon better for my daughter?” is an empowering question because it is both action-oriented and within your control. You can make her a cup of hot cocoa, listen to her vent, or give her a big hug. You can’t fix the world for her, but you can help her to tolerate it. Which brings us to our next tip…
Learn to Accept an Imperfect World
It’s sad but true: horrible things happen every day, and to kind, undeserving people. Our instinct is to refuse to accept this. However, refusing to acknowledge negativity only gives it more power over us. Adopt a realistic attitude towards the world’s problems and what you can do about them. You are only one person – but one determined person can accomplish quite a lot. You cannot end homelessness, but you can volunteer at a soup kitchen. You cannot end the suffering that animals face in bad farming conditions, but you can be conscious of where you buy your meat and whether you choose to consume animal products at all. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, accepting our limitations can help us come closer to meeting our full potential.
Believe in Your Own Strength
We are conditioned from birth to be modest and self-deprecating. When we downplay our strengths and capabilities to others, we may end up internalizing this message and underestimating our own power. Write down three great things you’ve accomplished, three things you do very well, and three ways you make the world a better place – even for just one other person. Look at this list every day to remind yourself how powerful you can be. Send yourself a positive message, and encourage yourself in the same way that you would a close friend.
Choose to Embrace Change
Most of us fear change inherently – but change is not always negative. When faced with a big change, think about the last time you thrived under new circumstances. Gently remind yourself that if you’ve done it once, you can do it again.Then, visualize what it would mean to flourish in your new life. By practicing this consciously, you are training your mind to be excited and optimistic about new experiences. This new mindset will empower you to strive for positive change in your life, like accepting a promotion across the country or applying to law school.
Face Challenges with Positivity
When faced with a challenging situation, ask yourself: How can I benefit from this? Every challenge is ultimately an opportunity to learn and grow. Even in failure or tragedy, we can build coping skills, resilience, and life perspective. We will not always enjoy this, but the greatest things in our lives, including our very identities, often come from the most intense growing pains. As an extreme example, childbirth is one of the most painful experiences known to humankind – but who can argue with the beautiful results?
Keep a Gratitude List
Take note of five things you are thankful for each day. Your list can be mental or physical, private or shared on your blog. Do it in a way that works for you, because the format truly doesn’t matter. Rather, the point of this exercise is to get yourself in the habit of embracing positive thoughts. This may sound like soft, feel-good advice, but actively engaging in thankfulness has been shown to increase both your productivity and your happiness.
Empowerment is not about one heroic act, but rather a series of small choices that build upon each other daily. It takes work to change your mindset to an empowering one, but once you do self-empowerment will become a natural part of your thought process. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”