What does it mean to be empowered? A wonderful teacher of mine, Alisa Starkweather, taught me that to be empowered means to know that you have a choice. I think that this is a fabulous starting point. Having a choice means that we are able to choose how we act and react in any situation. Outside circumstances will no longer dictate our responses! Feeling this sense of choice is the root of empowerment.
Being empowered means overcoming victimhood, which has become an epidemic. Victimhood is the opposite of having a choice. It is the experience of believing that someone or something else is doing something to us and that we have no control over the situation.
Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to feel that we have a choice. However, as we grow and develop, we learn how to find the choices that are there. This is what it is to be empowered: to know that we have the ability to choose what we want in any given situation.
Victim mindset represents the pervasive believe that we do not have power in our lives. Once in the victim mindset, we look outside and say “You are doing this to me, therefore I have no control.” This belief ensures that we remain a victim.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t situations in which people are actually victimized and, because of circumstance, have only bad options to choose from. Those situations are not the issue at hand. Rather, this level of victimhood is a foundational way of orienting to the events of your life. When we interact with the world as a victim, we look to the world to treat us differently rather than realizing that it is within our capacity make changes and determine how we want to move forward in our life.
Like many things in life, it is important that we allow a lot of compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance for this part of ourselves. We can’t move past our victim mentality without giving it the attention it needs. You can’t beat the victim up and tell them to get over it. That’s not that’s not the way that it works. Our first steps are to learn to see, appreciate, and love this part of ourselves. Every single aspect of ourselves has a teaching. Every aspect informs us about ourselves, about life, and about others.
By accepting our inner victim and relating to it as a teacher, we take our first steps toward leaving this way of life behind. We start by asking the important questions: “How does being in the victim mentality inform me about myself? How does it help me become the person I want to be?” We will always have this part of ourselves but we do not need to be acting from it all the time.
To take even more steps in the direction of empowerment, recognize that you have choices. If you find yourself in a situation that you don’t like, see what you want out of the situation instead. Tuning into an alternative vision of the situation is the first part of being able to choose something different. There isn’t one way that you need to do this. It is a process of learning. But here is a starting point:
Step 1 – Ask yourself “What else could happen here?”
Step 2 – Choose to move in the direction of the action or experience that is desired.
We grow out of the victim mentality by first recognizing that we have the power to choose to move in an affirming direction and then making that choice. The beauty of this is that whether or not we succeed in creating an entirely different circumstance, we have already begun to reclaim our power.
Are you interested in exploring the ways that victimhood is affecting your life? Dive deep in my free workshop titled “The Power of You: How to Overcome Despair and Thrive”, or click here to read about my Breakthrough Intensive.