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Unleashing the Power Within: A Journey to Self-Empowerment and Fulfillment

megan babcock personal growth self-empowerment Jun 19, 2023

For centuries, scholars and thinkers from various disciplines have grappled with ethical dilemmas surrounding power and its misuse.

The impact of influential individuals on different aspects of society, such as business, politics, religion, and historical events, has been the subject of extensive analysis. These public exertions of power have, more often than not, changed the course of history, and impacted how entire communities of people live their lives.

Empowerment, on the other hand, is very different from these notions of power. It is an inward focus of power, relating to one person and their journey towards becoming more confident and taking control of their own life.

My specialized empowerment course, part of the ‘Trauma Transformation Essential Skills Series', focuses on helping people do exactly that. Self-empowerment is a gateway to unlimited possibilities, and my course aims to help you look inside yourself, process your feelings of anxiety, despair, and hesitance, and become the hero of your own story.

But in order to become that hero, you need to understand exactly what power is, why it can be harmful when used negatively, and how you can, instead, harness it for good.

 


 

What is power and how can it be harmful?

 

‘Power' usually refers to a person's ability or capacity to do something, usually something large-scale or something that will affect other people, with the powerful individual at the very top.

Traditionally, power has been regarded with suspicion and often associated with negative intentions. Terms like "harsh", "exploitative", "fascist" and "sadistic" have been used to describe how power and influence have been wielded. While there is some truth to these characterizations, it is essential to recognize that power and leadership are not inherently positive or negative.

The ethical evaluation of power lies in the specific types of power individuals develop over time and how they accumulate and utilize it to inspire, dominate, or harm others. Power is addictive because it offers so much influence and control. This gives people harmful perceptions about what they need to do to gain and retain power and always harms the people who fall prey to those who abuse their power and use it to subjugate others.

‘The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships' (2009) establishes a clear distinction between positive, personal, and negative power, which can manifest covertly or overtly. In the book, Robert W. Firestone also acknowledges "the cycle of damage to each individual's self-esteem and self-concept" (1), which directly contributes to how every person views, approaches, and wields their own power.

 


 

 

From this perspective, three fundamental types of power emerge:

 

  1. Personal Power - individuals' gradual acquisition of strength, confidence, and competence throughout their personal development. It encompasses self-assertion and a natural, healthy pursuit of love, satisfaction, and meaning in interpersonal interactions.
  2. Covert Negative Power - rooted in passive-aggressive behaviors that indicate weakness, incompetence, and self-destructive tendencies. It manipulates others in interpersonal relationships by arousing their feelings of fear, guilt, and anger. Although different from overtly destructive power plays, these subtle manipulations can be equally damaging.
  3. Overt Negative Power - characterized by aggressive tendencies exerted through domination, coercion, or force to control others. It can manifest within relationships or become a significant aspect of political or social movements. Totalitarian governments and tyrannical leaders exemplify this destructive form of power.

Both covert and overt negative power involve subjugating other people in order to keep power. Personal power, by contrast, represents a movement towards self-realization and transcendence, primarily focused on mastering oneself rather than controlling others. When expressed externally, personal power tends to be more generous, creative, and humane than other forms of power.

Covert negative power is the least harmful of the two negative types of power, but it still aids in destroying relationships, encouraging explosive emotions, and corrupting a person's sense of self. It is a mode of control that reveals an inability to accept power over one's own life and is manifested through childlike behaviors such as falling apart, throwing tantrums, and acting self-destructively.

Covert negative power can dominate and control entire families, resembling a form of terrorism where one person holds another "accountable" for their misery and unhappiness. This can be incredibly dangerous if it causes the self-destructive person to lash out over their grudges. Unfortunately, individuals who lead chronically addictive or self-destructive lives or threaten suicide are particularly effective in eliciting fear responses from their loved ones.

These fear responses aids in the development of overt negative power, which is much more open about disempowering other people. Leaders who employ force or threats of punishment to achieve their objectives eventually oppress and demoralize their constituents. Totalitarian leaders and dictators exploit citizens' fears to establish, maintain, and expand their power base. Power is like a drug: addictive, destructive, and something that they cannot live without.

 


 

 

How is empowerment the solution?

 

Though power can be used for bad, it can also be the key to a better life.

It's important to distinguish between 'Power' and 'Empowerment'. The former implies having control over others in order to remain in power, whereas the latter is wholly focused on the individual and their ability to impact their own life through their choices.

In his bestselling book ‘The 48 Laws of Power' (1998), Robert Greene encourages readers to take power into their own hands and use it to craft a new version of themselves. He implores readers not to "accept the roles that society foists on you" in favor of becoming "the master of your own image" (2). But only when one assumes full personal power can they achieve this. Anything less will result in you doubting yourself and potentially being taken advantage of by others.

On the other hand, individuals who actively and persistently seek power through destructive means often exhibit underlying psychological disturbances. These may include issues with anger, narcissism, vanity, and sociopathic tendencies. Those who employ overt negative power, for instance, typically compensate for feelings of inferiority. They disconnect from their own emotions and empathy for others, expressing the authoritarian and judgmental aspects of their personalities through a sense of superiority.

For these individuals, controlling others can become addictive, providing feelings of joy and reducing insecurity. This may seem like a warped version of personal power, but it is much more sinister because it encourages individuals to elevate themselves to unnatural positions of power. For example, destructive leaders may attempt to deny their vulnerability to death, which feeds their vanity. However, since this never eliminates the fear of death, the need for power becomes increasingly compulsive, often resulting in catastrophic outcomes and crimes against humanity.

Take time to reflect on where you fall on the power scale. What areas do you need to spend time developing? Are there areas that align with being in a place of positive power? What will it take for you to feel self-empowered?

I seek to empower people who have gone through grief, trauma, and other tough times in their lives. Having somebody to coach you through the hardest chapters of your life can make all the difference. You need to emotionally understand yourself in order to figure out how positive personal power can change your life for the better.

 


 

 

Why are Boundaries Crucial?

 

After taking these steps towards empowering yourself, you can then take some time to evaluate the significance of boundaries in your pursuit of personal power.

Boundaries play a crucial role in developing our power. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is a way of asserting ourselves, protecting our well-being, and creating a foundation for personal growth and empowerment. However, a lot of people struggle to set boundaries, especially with the people closest to them.

Research by the Thriving Center of Psychology last year found that "58% of Americans have trouble saying "no" to others" (3), so the problem is often a lack of self-assertion. Everybody wants to be liked, but sometimes your desire to please people is detrimental to your overall mental state.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has also found that "anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S." (4), which helps to explain both why lots of people struggle to set boundaries and the psychological impact that a lack of boundaries can have. Setting boundaries is natural and healthy, and it can really help you to reclaim your power.

 


 

Here's how boundaries contribute to the development of personal power:

 

1. Self-Respect: Knowing Your Worth

Boundaries communicate to yourself and others that you value your needs and emotions. Having clear boundaries will help you prioritize your own well-being, which strengthens your sense of self-worth and personal power.

2. Emotional Well-being: Putting Yourself First

Boundaries help you define what is acceptable and unacceptable in your relationships and interactions. They enable you to establish limits on how others treat you, determine what you're willing to tolerate, and create space for positive energy, growth, and empowerment.

3. Assertiveness: Sticking Up For Yourself

Boundaries help you to express your needs, desires, and limits clearly and respectfully, so they are key to personal power. By practicing assertiveness, you cultivate self-confidence and the ability to advocate for yourself effectively.

4. Focus and Prioritization: Knowing What Truly Matters To You

Boundaries allow you to allocate your time, energy, and resources in alignment with your priorities and values. By saying "no" to activities, requests, or relationships that do not serve your growth or well-being, you create space for what contributes to your personal development.

5. Healthy Relationships: Maintaining Meaningful Connections

Boundaries define the limits and expectations within a relationship, promoting mutual respect, trust, and growth. By establishing and communicating boundaries, you create an environment that supports your personal power and fosters healthy connections with others.

6. Personal Growth: Encouraging Transformation

Boundaries create a safe and supportive space for personal growth and exploration. They enable you to step out of your comfort zone, take risks and embrace new opportunities. Your empowered self can overcome challenges, expand your capabilities and unlock your full potential.

7. Self-Care: Thriving As You Grow

Boundaries ensure that you prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They encourage self-care activities, rest, and personal time, which help you replenish your energy and cultivate personal power from a place of strength and balance.

 


 

 

Unleashing Your Personal Power: Steps to Self-Empowerment

 

Empowerment is about taking control of your life, setting goals, and taking actionable steps to achieve them. It's about cultivating an attitude, drive, and commitment to work towards your objectives with a sense of empowerment. There is no 'quick fix' that will help you achieve instant self-empowerment; it's all about working on yourself, setting healthy boundaries, and understanding your emotions, all of which can take some time.

If you're seeking personal empowerment, there are several steps you can take to live a more empowered life:

  1. Develop a Positive Attitude - embrace optimism and look for opportunities in challenges.
  2. Be Open to Possibilities - be willing to explore new ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
  3. Focus on What You Stand For - when you align your actions with your values, you feel authentic and empowered.
  4. Set Reasonable Goals - define meaningful and achievable goals that align with your aspirations.
  5. Trust in Yourself - cultivate self-confidence by acknowledging your strengths and celebrating your achievements.
  6. Collaborate with Others - seek out mentors, friends, or colleagues who inspire and motivate you.
  7. Use Positive Self-Talk - challenge negative self-talk by questioning its validity and reframing it with constructive and affirming statements.
  8. Create an Action Plan - break down your goals into specific tasks and set deadlines to hold yourself accountable.

Remember, self-empowerment is a continuous journey that requires ongoing effort and self-reflection. Embrace the process and be patient with yourself as you work towards your goals.

 


 

 

Finding Fulfillment

 

We feel our best when we are thriving, and having a strong sense of positive personal power is a massive factor.

True fulfillment means being satisfied with yourself and the direction in which your life is heading. Getting what you want out of life can be difficult, but approaching tough situations in the right frame of mind can make all the difference. Empowered people know what they're worth and refuse to let anybody take that away from them.

It's time for you to be your own champion and take back your power.

 

xoxo, Megan & the team

 

Article Resources

 

  • The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships | Learn More
  • The 48 Laws of Power | Learn More
  • Which Generation Struggles To Set Healthy Boundaries The Most? | Learn More 
  • Understanding Anxiety Disorders - Facts & Statistics | Learn More  

 

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