March is Women’s History Month and an important time to honor all those women who have made poignant and powerful contributions to our world. Coincidentally, March 8th was International Women’s Day. This year’s focus was "Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity." The fact is, when women are empowered, humanity-at-large advances. To become empowered means to become invested with power, whether from the perspective of personal, community, political, or spiritual growth. This power can forge a pathway to self-development and realization. When empowerment begins at the personal level, it can easily expand to the collective. Basically, empowerment comes from within, however, according to Starhawk in the book, The Empowerment Manual “the structures around us can evoke inner strength and support it, or deny and suppress it.” Whether it is evoked or supported, it is couched in a passionate desire for change. When we have the desire to empower or change the world, Starhawk goes on to say, “We have a desire to bring about greater freedom, justice, peace, and equality.”

I believe at the core of all empowerment is not only the desire for change, but the presence of love. Like the Beatles once said, “All you need is love; love is all you need.”

When love for the self is present, there is a desire to nurture the soul in a way that makes us stronger, both as women and as human beings. Before we can empower and love the world, we must first love ourselves. Then we can reach out into the world and embrace the collective. As  Meister Echkart said, “If you love yourself, you love everybody else as you do yourself…

In general, seekers are empowered because they are often trying to become better people or improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Being empowered is a potent feeling. There is a sense that life is in balance and all is going well. In order to facilitate the change that ultimately identifies someone as empowered, the authentic inner voice must be unlocked. The art of listening and acknowledging that inner voice enables us to examine our inner gifts and talents. As a writer, I have seen this happen during the writing process.  It’s evident that writing or other creative processes can result in transformation, self-realization and finally, empowerment.

Yet love, I have realized, is at the core of everything, including empowerment, I believe that to be empowered, the individual must harbor strong desire, passion and love. In his classic book, The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm says that “the desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful striving in man [woman]. It is the most fundamental passion; it is the force which keeps the human race together, the clan, the family, society,” (p. 15).

Years ago, the word empowerment suggested personal achievement or enlightenment. However, in more recent years, a new model of empowerment has come forth, in that after becoming personally empowered, the individual has the desire to influence and empower others, whether loved ones or the collective. The individual might become empowered by a vision that they want to share with the world, and their empowerment becomes contagious. The rewards are twofold—the empowering of the self and the empowerment of others.

To explain this further, Guy Winch, Ph.D. in his article, "How To Obtain Personal Empowerment," aptly uses the example of someone reading a self-help book on improving their relationship with their spouse. To become empowered, it is not enough to read the book. True empowerment arises when the person initiates a productive dialogue with their partner which actually improves the relationship. Winch adds, “The process of empowerment is not a linear drive toward stronger internal feelings of efficacy, but rather a dynamic process in which we acquire knowledge, take action, assess our impact and refine our efforts.”

During this month of the empowerment of women and humanity, this could not be much closer to the truth. In conclusion, if you have a passion or a cause which you have been thinking about pursuing, this might be the time to go after it. If not now, when? Remember, the world is waiting for you to empower it with your ideas and your love!

References

Echkart, Meister (1980). Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart's creation spirituality, in new translation. New York, NY: Doubleday, p. 287. 

Fromm, Erich (1963).The Art of Loving. New York, NY: Bantam Books. 

Starhawk (2011). The Empowerment Manual.  British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers.

Winch, Guy (2011). “How to Attain Real Personal Empowerment.” Psychology Today. January 11th.

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