How can you empower yourself in the current climate when all anyone can focus on is the pandemic and how the world has come to a complete standstill.
“There’s no such thing in life as an overnight success. Behind the scenes of every success story are sweat,
tears and countless corrected mistakes. Everything that looks like a miraculous rise is always just
the tip of the iceberg. Any endeavour in life requires an investment of energy. “
Everyone struggles. We all believe that others are more successful, or more accomplished, but what we do not see if what goes on behind the scenes. How much work has gone into their success? Is their success real or just fabricated for social media?
Instead of concentrating on what others are achieving, what if we were to put the same efforts into creating our own success?
We have been oppressing ourselves by “not believing in ourselves, by accepting disrespect from others,
by not doing ourselves the favour of looking after ourselves properly.” (Page 2)
Self-belief is perhaps the biggest barrier; if we were to take away the doubting comments and internal voices just think about what we could achieve.
We also need to remember that in unprecedented times like this, with the relentless negativity floating around influencing our thoughts, not to panic. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from the negativity, wherever it is coming from, as this will only increase personal anxiety and dedicate more time to ourselves and our own self-care.
When we are emotional, the highs are fantastic but the lows can easily wipe us out, causing us to panic, become fearful or stressed. That’s not to say we shouldn’t embrace these times. We need to acknowledge the low feelings; the depression that creeps over us all from time to time. But rather than beating ourselves up, we need to learn to lower our expectations of ourselves during these times and forgive ourselves for not feeling 100%.
“… any crisis – is a great opportunity to empower yourself by developing
true inner strength and resilience.” (Page 5)
Instead of thinking negatively, instead think about what else can we do during these times?
- Create some good habits.
- Give yourself a confidence boost by seeing something through until the end, regardless of how insignificant it may feel to you.
- Focus on the positives.
- Use your anger to make positive changes. Channelling anger can lead to something constructive. Rather than letting setbacks take over, focus that frustration and discomfort and act instead.
- Seize the moment and make a positive change.
- Plan for the worst, knowing it probably won’t happen.
Plato is credited with saying, “Reality is created by the mind. We can change our reality by changing our mind.” Sometimes it is about relooking at the facts and the opinions and removing the irrational thoughts originally generated by the situation.
As humans our natural reaction is to automatically look at the negative and not the positive, it’s the way we have been wired, but that doesn’t mean we cannot consciously change those thoughts and reactions.
If you look at those that have achieved a measure of success, they have lived through real hardship and discomfort. They have taken those experiences, turning the negativity into a positive and gone on to thrive. Why? Perhaps they are more focused on success.
“Our inner freedom knows no limits other than those we impose on it or allow to be
imposed on it. And that freedom also holds great power. It can transform an individual; allow him
to nurture all his capacities and to live every moment of his life in utter fulfilment. ” (Luca Cavalli-Sforza)
What is Empowerment?
It is the process of becoming stronger, more confident; to think for yourself and not be governed by others.
We are easily manipulated and so often, end up on autopilot doing what society predicts. We take on the path that everyone travels, never questioning it or thinking that there may be an alternative option.
However, we all need to stop blaming others for the decisions we make in life. Instead of wasting energy procrastinating consider refocusing and take control of the situation.
To feel empowered is to feel knowledgeable about something so never stop learning. We have everything at our fingertips thanks to technology but often we see learning and education is something that stops after we have achieved our qualifications for the role we currently want. However, that role is constantly evolving and therefore we need to continually grow to succeed nowadays. Nothing stands still for long.
Instead, Xenia suggests that we should look to become experts on topics. She mentions that Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour workweek “popularized the idea that if you read three bestsellers in a chosen field (as well as go to a couple of seminars and join a couple of other organizations), you will become an expert on the topic.” You may feel like this seems a bit extreme, but I suppose the idea is that even within a short amount of time your knowledge can increase exponentially.
We also need to move away from the irrational belief that we are not good enough or cannot do something. Xenia uses a very good example to illustrate this point. Take someone that doesn’t dance. Often they are thinking they cannot get onto the dance floor because they cannot dance. They will make a fool of themselves and people will be watching them, making fun of them. Firstly, they will only get better by practice, secondly, what makes them think others will even notice them and finally, should you really care?
We need to get rid of our inhibitions and train our minds to become more rational and stop caring or assuming that we know what other people are thinking.
How to start training our brains to think differently
Xenia suggests that we all consider journaling to help us to better understand ourselves. It is a way to further develop independent thoughts without judgement and will also improve your mental wellbeing.
“Studies have found that people who engage in expressive and emotional writing regularly
for around 15 minutes a day feel on average less stressed and have to pay fewer visits to the doctor.” (Page 54)
It is the small changes we consciously make each and every day that will become habit-forming. If you do not opt to do things differently, how can anyone expect things to change?
Some people are extremely sceptical about the techniques shared by motivational coaches and authors of books like Empower Yourself, but with so many reinforcing the message about journaling perhaps there is something to it.
How to strive for success
“If we always emulate everyone else, the best we can expect is to achieve exactly
the same as everyone else. Independent thought is essential for our own progress and
for the progress of humanity as a whole” (Page 60)
Success is driven by goal setting and using time effectively to achieve those goals. Think of those you see as successful right now. Did they grow up as privileged individuals with everything handed to them or did they work for it?
For those that worked for it, remember, they have exactly the same amount of time each day as you do, they just choose not to waste it. They create habits, they think about the long term, the make lists and design vision boards to help them focus. They think what the impact will be on their decisions 2, 3, 5 even 10 years down the line.
They don’t sit around, procrastinating. They don’t fill their time with mindless activities in the hope that one day something will happen to them.
They go out and get it.
If you want to succeed you need to do the same. Empower yourself to go out and get what it is you want.
Xenia suggests that downtime should be productive also. Not in the work sense, but don’t fall into the trap of mindless TV watching. Instead, we should make sure that what we are doing during this time leaves a positive impact on our mental wellbeing and improve our self-esteem.
“Self-esteem is self-perception: it is how you see yourself, not how others see you… if you
feel you are unworthy of love, attention and achievement, it is very likely that your behaviour
will emanate an aura of insecurity. People will pick up on these subtle signs and buy into your
own beliefs of unworthiness. “(Page 104)
What really matters isn’t how others see you, but how you see yourself. Without even thinking about it we emanate our beliefs. Confident people believe they can do something, whereas if you doubt yourself your body language and what you say about yourself will give you away.
“Attraction is not what we are led to believe society values, it’s not about perfect features
and measurements. It’s about the confidence that you emanate, that people can spot from afar.” (Page 108)
Finally, we need to remember that there are going to be times when we fail, but it’s how we tackle that failure. Do you give up or do you keep going? Failure is seen as embarrassing but actually, without failure, we cannot grow and develop. We need to learn to put yourself into difficult situations if not we will never develop further.
“… the most important part of any achievement is usually the pain and suffering you’ve had to
endure to reach your goal.” (Page 168)
My Thoughts on Empower Yourself
As you can probably tell from my lengthy review, many of the themes discussed hit a chord with me. They resonated with my own thoughts about how when I feel a lack of self-worth I really am not very productive or successful.
I would even go as far as saying that not only does my lack of personal positivity come through when I am face-to-face with people but also through my written word as well. I can apply for jobs and the cover letter when I am feeling particularly sorry for myself makes me sound pathetic and I know as soon as I send it off I am not going to get any further, whereas when I have a ‘can-do’ attitude nothing can stop me. I just need to be more consistent.
For me personally, this book didn’t necessarily introduce me to any new ideas, but it reconfirmed what I already know. It gave me a kick to stop talking about making changes and to start physically doing something.
Empower Yourself has just eight chapters. It is not long-winded, or pretentious, it is simple to follow and induces you to feel more positive about yourself. I have read many self-care, motivational books that ask you to complete tasks to embed what you have just read, which I never do. Why? Because at that moment, I am looking to immerse myself in the words written and I hate stop-starting. With this book, however, I was able to read each chapter, take a few minutes to digest what was being said and move on.
It may sound ridiculous, but due to the lack of activities, I actually felt more empowered. I didn’t feel restricted or dictated to. Instead, I realised that it was completely down to me to make the changes as and when I saw fit. If I didn’t create any good habits after reading Empower Yourself, that was completely down to me.
It was a truly liberating read and I feel that one particular quote from Xenia’s book is the perfect way to end.
“Empowered people empower others.” (Page 100)
Have you read Empower Yourself? What other motivational, self-care books have you read recently that resonant with you? Which memorable book caused you to take action?
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