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What is "Empowerment"?

Updated: Nov 24, 2019

Empowerment is one of these overused words that's kind of lost its meaning. Sounds like something we all want to have though!

An early teacher (a colleague, not a professor - we learn the most important thing on the job) taught me that no-one can "empower" another person. Empowerment is not a gift that we endow. It's not a transferable commodity or a battery charger. People are not receptacles to be filled. Certainly someone with power can give another person access to power. But in education and counselling it's more about helping the participant recognize their power and offering tools and knowledge, and the participant makes the choice about what to do with them. The language my colleague used was "you can create an empowering environment in which people can empower themselves." This is what I am trying to do, but I am just going to stop and ask what do I even mean by empowerment? What would it look like to empower yourself?

This is what it means to me.

· Control over your feelings, thoughts and behaviour

· Having opportunity

· Confidence, self esteem, and self worth

· Self-compassion

· Clarity of purpose

· Ability to act; to make changes in your life

· The meaning and influence you have in the eyes of others

· Energy, motivation

· “Can-do” feeling that often comes from feeling supported, recognized and cheered-for

· Skills to communicate your needs and to set boundaries; assertiveness

· Courage

· Making a move; taking a risk

· Getting the information you need to choose an action or direction. Acting even when you’re not sure or don’t know everything

· Knowledge of your needs, likes and dislikes, skills, talents, values and virtues

· Expanding your sense of your capabilities

· Autonomy and self-determination (Dictionary says “acting on your own authority”)

· Realization of rights

· Feeling your life is in sync with your desires

· Gaining the skills and knowledge needed to fulfill your desires and meet your goals

· Process of gaining better awareness of your potential, through a period of practice, to actualizing your potential

What do you think of this list? Would you add anything?

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