Like most words that resonate at the collective level, empowerment has gemstone-like facets.
Those of us who live in a state of disconnection from our own true power feel the loss as pain, even if we don’t realize it. Whenever we are mad or blue about how things are, in resistance to someone or something, we are missing our long-lost power.
We can wish that someone or something would grant us power, so that we could at last experience it embodied, here and now, within our own beings. Coursing through our veins, available for creation of a world we actually would feel enthusiastic about living in.
I know my list of wishes is long, and I expect yours is the same. I wish I had the power to… the power to… the power to… Perhaps our love of mythic heroes with transcendental superpowers stems from this longing, to live a life of strength and potency. Amid so much that is not how we would choose it to be, our missing power can break our hearts, give us a gloomy view.
Contained in the word empowerment is the starting place of having no power. If you already have power, you don’t need to be empowered. Which begs the question, who is it who can empower another? Who actually has the authority?
Some have criticized the word itself for this implied change of state, pointing out that it underscores the myth of power being held not within, but outside of us.
If before empowerment takes place, I have no power, power must be granted. This is like saying sovereignty does not exist, and that what we need for a life of agency and meaning can only be given to us by those who keep it tucked away from us.
The trouble with this is that it’s too easy for those who appoint themselves as power-holders, who feel justified to mete out permissions or restrictions, to have actual worldly control. The Great and Terrible Oz rules by our collective permission. How did we get here?
Maybe it’s a good time to remember that empowerment means stepping into one’s pre-existing potential to have and to hold power. More a process of recognition of what is already there, than a transfer from something outside of us, into us. By this way of thinking, empowerment is simply to tap into what is already within us, digging into the earth of ourselves to reach an underground spring.
When we are not empowered, we feel life happens to us, without consent or choice. This is the victim stance. The victim state is horrible. The victim needs comfort, addictions to avoid her pain. When I have no agency, no influence to secure for myself what I want, what I need to have a good life, then I am in the trauma-spell of disempowerment. Disempowerment as a permanent state will require some measure of chronic pain management for the soul. Good for business, from the point of view of those who profit from human pain.
Sometimes people think they’re empowering themselves, when in truth they are giving into revenge. The urge is natural in some ways, and we should look out for it. It’s not the power we really want, when we seize our opportunity to dominate and control others. Swinging into the opposite pole, and still externally focused, I get my “power” through tyranny? No.
Empowerment is the middle place, where I see fully that the outer is the logical manifestation/match to our insides. The world out there is a co-arising mirror, following in the wake of my own movements.
The waves I experience now, lovely or horrid, are the natural consequences of what was co-created at the collective level in our shared past. If we don’t like it, we can make a different choice now. Sooner or later, the new choices will create a world we prefer.
When we do this, we meet resistance, the resistance of the clay against the molding & shaping. That doesn’t mean that it’s not the right thing to do. Empowering ourselves is not, necessarily, easier in the short term nor entirely free of suffering. But it is required for the restoration of choice. And choice is key to a truly human life.
As we all know at some level of our being, the moment of empowerment is like the moment that Glenda the Good Witch reminds Dorothy that she has had the power all along, right there on her own two feet.
Is that good news or bad news, in your opinion?