It is almost Spring and it’s a time for growth. We plant new seeds and nurture the soil to ensure that we will realize the best outcome. It can also be a time of new growth and transformation in our individual lives. To start the personal process, ask these important questions:
- What do I want to grow?
- What am I putting into my soil (my mind) so that I can nurture and cultivate a powerful, productive and effective life?
March is Women’s history month. One of the wonderful things about this month, is that we see increased opportunities to learn about powerful women throughout history – women of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and age who have made a difference in their own lives, those of others and in society. Women have touched many lives because of the courage they exhibited and the actions they took. The important thing is that we can continue to make history every day.
Today I am sharing with you a 5 step exercise in increasing empowerment, that will help you interrupt the subtle things that disempower rather than empower.
Step 1 – Examine your soil.
The soil consists of our minds and bodies. What do we put into this soil that is absorbed into our cells? Any negative thoughts and any positive thoughts and we have, hear, or read seep into our system – into our psyche. They can factor growth and have an enhancing effect, or they can produce a diminishing effect.
What goes into your soil that fills your cells through messages you take in without questioning?
- Examine the negative messages and examine the positive messages. If you put them in a graph, what percentage would be greater? Unfortunately, many women and men constantly have negative self-talk as the general rule.
- First notice, then question the validity, and then select what you choose to believe.
- What do you allow to sabotage your good works? It might be a victim stance, constant conflict, obsessive perfectionism. Any of these negative energies can put a halt to productive growth.
Step 2 – Consider what is needed to give you a boost.
It may be something to add to a skill set or it could be you need a boost in confidence. Often, the default is a lack of confidence, while overlooking capabilities. It is not uncommon to hear people say they are not sure they can do a particular task. Sometimes confidence is shattered. This is a great opportunity for examination.
- What is being questioned: capabilities or confidence? There’s a big difference.
- If it’s capabilities, we need to acknowledge where we are, and what we need to do a particular task or build new skill sets. When we take on building new skill sets, we will build confidence.
- If it’s confidence, it is important to examine any negative messages or excuses that keep you stuck in a place of not feeling capable. Recently, after a pretty nasty collision on the ski slopes, I struggled with confidence the next couple of times I went skiing. I did not like feeling uncertain and questioned my ability, and even if I would continue enjoying skiing. When I was able to remind myself of my capabilities, it boosted my confidence. It was a game changer and helped me get back to appreciating skiing again.
Step 3 – Examine your own words.
Think about the messages you are putting into your belief system or broadcasting to others about yourself or them. Are they empowering or disempowering? Words have a lot of power even when they are not spoken. Thoughts become things. We have control over what we say and how we think. It takes intense awareness to catch the negativities that are damaging the soil. The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true. Words do hurt.
- Start listening intently to the words you think and say. If they are empowering, they help make a difference in how you feel and what you can do. If they are disempowering, they diminish your spirit. We do not have control over words that someone else uses, but we can have control over what we will take in, absorb, and believe. And, we can speak up and set boundaries on what we are willing to listen to from others.
- Examine the words you use with regard to others or tell others. We have the opportunity to lift someone up or put someone down. Are we honoring the humanity in someone or are we dehumanizing them, including ourselves?
- Words can harm others, and they can perpetuate a system that keeps in place systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, lookism, and ageism, which in turn supports a system of hierarchy, a caste system (a social order). We are “swimming” in the system, and we do not recognize it. I highly recommend Isabel Wilkerson’s new book, Caste, The Origins of Our Discontents. It shines a light on systems and how the status quo perpetuates the dehumanization of people and groups.
Step 4 – Be brave.
Being brave does not mean that there is no fear. It means that you look into the fear and work through it. It means that you put on your courage and try your best through self-examination and determination.
Step 5 – Lead from your heart.
Leading from your heart allows you to examine your actions and your thoughts. It does not mean that you do not set boundaries when needed if someone exhibits inappropriate behavior. It does mean that you acknowledge there is a person beneath the unacceptable behavior. Then you can choose to free up your energy, do what is needed, and when necessary, move on. Hanging onto negative thoughts only keeps you in a negative space.
Women are powerful. We can either unleash that power or hold it back.
Regardless of what you were taught about being a girl or a woman, examine who you authentically are.
- Know who supports you. Who is in your court?
- Ask for support.
- Build and nurture relationships.
- Know that you are enough. Don’t allow “not-enoughness” to damage your soil.
- Support & lift up others.
Exploring these steps can make a difference in your level of success and how you feel about your success.