Recovering from trauma is challenging because of the steps necessary to begin to feel comfortable with yourself and in the world again. Re-establishing a sense of personal power and control will be essential during your own recovery. However, it is important to remember that self-empowerment is a process and everyone’s path will be different. This blog will discuss a variety of tools that will enhance your own level of self-empowerment and act as guidelines to move you along the change process.
Two of the most important tools are recognition and awareness. Really noticing what external factors you put your energy toward and allow to affect your life can take away significant levels of personal power. Once you are able to step back and recognize how much power you are actually giving away, as well as recognize the abilities and skills that you do have, you can begin to feel more empowered. Awareness is the second tool that takes recognition a little further. Since you cannot change something you are not aware of, self-awareness helps you to acknowledge and accept the level of power you have been giving away. The amazing part of this awareness is realizing that you can just as easily begin to take your power back whenever you decide to begin doing so.
Responsibility is another important tool, both accepting your own appropriate level of responsibility and also giving the appropriate responsibilities to those who deserve it. This will help to release you from a level of guilt and/or self-blame that you might be experiencing. Letting go of the past and letting go of worrying about the future are the next two tools that will be useful in improving self-empowerment. Empowerment is only able to be experienced in the present moment. Focusing on the past, holding grudges, and continuing to live in your symptoms continue to keep you stuck. Choosing to release yourself from the past will help you to feel stronger and be able to move forward instead of standing still. Releasing your worry about the future is also important because we will never have full control over what happens to us in the future. Being able to accept the fact that we can only influence our future, by adding up our present moments, will not only feel empowering, but also freeing.
Trust is a major skill that all people seem to continuously be working on in life. Learning to trust yourself and your own decisions can be very powerful. Remembering that failure is a gray-scale, failure is not black or white, will also empower you to feel that you can be in control of and alter your own process. This ability to trust yourself can improve the mindset you have about yourself overall. Remembering that you have control over yourself and your own mind can help you move forward in your recovery. Make sure to share your greatness with others, because you are great. This allows you to become more active in your own self-empowerment by involving yourself in a positive way with others. Withholding these gifts will only continue to keep you stuck.
Being willing to focus on your own truth and what you believe to be important in your own life is necessary. Our society often sees the word ‘selfish’ as a dirty word, but the truth is that self-empowerment contains a level of selfishness. Learning to put ourselves first and taking care of our own needs, instead of always putting others before ourselves, can be very self-empowering. Healthy selfishness is finding space, time, and energy for yourself in a way that is not at the cost of another person. Lastly, forgiving yourself and finding a level of inner peace, as opposed to continuing to punish ourselves, is important for finding self-empowerment. If we cannot have compassion for ourselves, it will be difficult to believe that we can care for ourselves in these other ways.
These skills take significant practice and they will be very challenging from time to time. However, continuing to practice and live by these skills are what will enhance and maintain a level of self-empowerment over the course of a lifetime. Remember, you have never lost your power, you may just have forgotten some of these skills given various traumas you’ve experienced. The amazing thing is that you have to ability to return to these habits and improve your quality of life as a result.
Authored by: Kaitlan Gibbons, PsyD