Blog Author: Emilia Wheaton
Blog Editor: Kristen Kennedy Smith
What does it feel like to feel a sense of empowerment?
Bring your imagination to a massively attended, yet intimate performance of your favorite musician. You feel the collective excitement; the base vibration syncs to your steady, strong heartbeat; you are hyper focused and fully present in the magic happening around you; the lights draw your eyes in to your idol pouring their soul out through the tips of their fingers stroking their instrument and their light is audible in their voice; your senses are simultaneously fixated on the explosion of stimulus of the performance and on your body’s hyper-sensitive perception of the whole spectacle. Your most-trusted friend reaches from within her own bubble of mesmerization and breaks you from your trance...she taps you on your shoulder and, without hesitation, you support yourself on a pair of shoulders and you begin floating. You are crowd surfing.
To me, this sensation of crowd surfing is the closest analogy to be made for feeling dramatically empowered. If you’ve never crowd surfed--I urge you to take the opportunity, should it present itself--you can imagine the paradox of instability as you surf outside your comfort zone and the blissful surrender of trust you place in the myriad of hands that support your safe voyage through the crowd. You independently took the spontaneous risk to jump into the hands of strangers, though those strangers’ hands came through for you out of a basal human sense of right when confronted with the responsibility of supporting another fellow human. This is at the base of empowerment; to feel empowered is to feel a deep trust in ourselves, in our environment, in our support systems, and at a certain level, a trust in fate that all will be well and as we wish it to be. This firm trust is the basis in which we can step outside our comfort zone, to feel empowered to take a risk, to attempt a far-reaching goal.
Reaching a sense of empowerment, as an individual, requires some help from others, from our society, and from ourselves. Empowering another is a virtuous and entirely cost-free service we can offer to others. Much like kindness or respect, we do not lose something of our own to lift up those around us. On a micro level, a mother may empower her shy young daughter to ask the store-clerk a question by encouraging her to speak for herself in small, safe situations. Meanwhile, empowerment on the macro level requires social change and the virtuous devotion of lawmakers to level the playing field and put in place little “boosts” for groups that do not enjoy equity amongst those most powerful of our society.
Empowering another may be as simple as offering a genuine compliment of that person’s strengths or abilities or of instilling a sense of trust that all will be well. A certain sense of confidence must be achieved in order for one to feel empowered toward achieving a goal. Reflect on a time YOU felt deeply empowered: What was your goal? Why did you feel capable of pursuing that goal? How did you talk yourself up in your head? Who around you helped you feel powerful? What systemic social attributes worked in your favor to urge you just a little closer toward completing your goal?
Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could harness this empowerment each time we feel weak or unsure? The truth is, WE CAN. Employ the strategies you use to lift yourself up, to boost your confidence, to expand your vision just over the hill of our comfort zone, and then offer those around you these same empowering gestures. Can you be a cheerleader for yourself, for your best friend, for your mother, for your coworker, for your community, for our world? Yup. You can. Prop yourself up on a pair of shoulders and let yourself surf. When you reach solid ground again, take a huge deep breath and revel in the thrill for a moment, then offer the same gift to those around you. Let empowerment be a circle that feeds you and allows you to feed others.
Rock on with your bad self,
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