You don't become empowered by becoming perfect.
An essential part of self-empowerment is to embrace all of who you are!
Elon Musk said, "I think it matters if someone has a good heart."
Would you agree? If so, I'd like to bring your attention to being good-hearted towards yourself.
You don't have to be madly in love with your (take your pick) nasty, needy, helpless, confused, angry, cynical, weak, side. But to be empowered, you must, must bring compassion and empathy to it. You must, must be forgiving toward it. Because when you are not, your flaws become not only your challenges and the things you work on, on your journey to living an empowered life, they become what undermines your power.
It's not berating yourself for your flaws that turn you into Mother Teresa or Elon Musk. It's loving those flaws while steadily building behaviors and perspectives that are in line with who you, in your heart of hearts, want to become.
The best place for self-empowerment is to start with forgiveness of your flaws and then to expand your repertoire to include celebration. Yes, of yourself. All else, your empowerment, usefulness, effectiveness, happiness, and wholeness will flow from these two: Forgiveness and celebration. The following 5-step exercise will give you a good start.
5-Step Self-Empowerment Exercise
Step 1: See both sides
Think of three things (optional: write them down) that you consider strengths in yourself. (For example, three of mine are: I'm a gentle teacher. I have a soft heart. I can be a badass if I have to be.) Hold these things in your heart and soul. Next, think of two things about you that you feel shame about or that you feel guilt about. (For example, two of mine are: I hold grudges, I default to avoidance if I think something could fail.)
Now, in your mind's eye, place these flaws and strengths side by side so you can clearly see that your personality contains both! Take a really good look at the good things about you! Maybe you're passionate, loving, caring--whatever is on your list.
Step 2: Forgive Yourself
Think of your flaws and just plunge in! Try not to overthink it. Just form the thought: "I forgive you." Repeat it like a mantra. (For example, I'll say, "I forgive myself for holding grudges.") The effect is very much amplified if you hug yourself around the middle, or pet your shoulder, or put your hand on your heart. Please try it. Nobody's going to see you do it.
If you can't do it
It's important not to wait till you feel forgiving. The doing will produce the feeling. If you can't bring yourself to say, "I forgive you," imagine saying it to someone else. Someone whom you find it easy to forgive, like a friend or pet. Think of them, or visualize them in your mind's eye, say the words, then switch out their countenance with your own. If you recoil, switch back to the previous visual or thought. Switch back and forth until you can hold an image or thought of yourself while saying, "I forgive you." It may help to use a picture of yourself you may have on your smart phone, or to work in front of a mirror (aptly called "mirror work".)
Step 3: Apply your strengths
The is often a natural symmetry to our strengths and flaws. You can apply your former to your latter. (For example, I might say, "I can be a kind teacher to myself regarding my grudges. I can summon my inner badass regarding my avoidance.") Writing these out may make them easier to craft. You can trust that your strengths can help you with your flaws. I didn't strategically pick my strengths and flaws to coordinate. It just worked out that way as I wrote this post. It will for you, too.
Step 4: Write a love letter
Remember, you don't become empowered by becoming perfect. You become empowered by embracing all of yourself--your flaws and your wonderfulness! You've already started the work of forgiving yourself. Now, write a letter that celebrates your awesome self! (My example: "Dear India, You've done some great work, learning to switch from teaching to facilitating people's self-empowerment. You show people how to see their beautiful, amazing, worthy and lovable selves. And, whaat (?!) you play the guitar. How cool is that!?")
Why not pick up your phone, pad, pen, right now and write your own love letter to yourself? You don't need it, but just in case you want it, I give you full permission to write it. You'll be surprised how it will lift you up. And if you want your self-empowerment to climb as steep as a rocket, write yourself a love letter every week, maybe even several times a week for the next little while.
Listen, no B.S, you deserve to treat yourself with a kind heart and with love! You are as beautiful and unique as a snowflake. There'll never be anyone else like you in the world. Sure, that statement has become a cliché. So what? Just let it sink in anyway: You. Are. Extraordinary. There. Is. No. One. Else. In. The. World. Like. You.
Step 5: A Mantra to make it stick
To make your advancements stick and to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to maintain them, you can create a mantra that helps you remember the gist of your love letters so you can benefit long after having written them. My go-to mantra is: You are whole, wise, and divine, perfect as you are and as you are not.
This is a process. With this Self-Empowerment exercise, you are building a self-empowerment neural network. Right now, it's a tiny baby network. To grow it: Repeat the 3 steps. The more often, the bigger and stronger, and therefore, more effective this network becomes in helping you become empowered.
Keep at it. I know you can do this!
I love you,
PS: If "snowflake" gave you a little twinge because of how some people use it to put other people down, read this post.
PPS: Parts of this exercise is from my self-empowerment and trauma healing course, Wise Peer.
Henry India Holden
I write about the divineness of life in its many forms. Writer, artist, spiritual director, life coach, tarotist. Nonbinary.