Empowerment is the capacity of individuals and groups to take control of their circumstances, exercise power and achieve their own goals.
It is the process by which, individually and collectively, they are able to help themselves and others to maximize the quality of their lives. We all need personal empowerment.
Personal empowerment involves developing the confidence and strength to set realistic goals and fulfill your potential. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and a range of skills that are used in everyday situations, but all too often people remain unaware or they undervalue their true abilities.
In this article, we will examine 7 dimensions of personal empowerment. These dimensions of personal empowerment are based on the belief that the greater the range of coping responses an individual develops, the greater their chance of coping effectively with diverse life situations. Without further ado, here they are:
Self-awareness involves understanding our individual character and how we are likely to respond to situations. This enables us to build on our positive qualities and be aware of any negative traits which may reduce our effectiveness. Self-aware people make conscious decisions to enhance their lives whenever possible. They learn from past experiences.
Knowledge or information is necessary in the development of self-awareness and skills. It is an essential skill in itself to know where to find appropriate information. Without information, the choices open to people are limited, both in their personal and work life. The internet has provided an easy way for everybody to access huge amounts of information very quickly and easily. The problem is then centered around the quality of the information found, and the skill set is concerned with finding accurate and reliable information.
- Understanding Your Strengths, Weaknesses and Limits
Becoming empowered includes knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. Identifying these will enable you to work on improving your weaknesses and build on your strengths.
It is not uncommon for other people to have misjudged your strengths and weaknesses, or for you to misjudge those of others. This can lead to opportunities being limited due to the misconception of abilities. It is important, therefore, to know your own strengths and weaknesses and to communicate them clearly to others, whilst encouraging others to communicate their strengths and weaknesses to you.
In some circumstances you may feel that you face problems that are truly beyond your capabilities. In such cases you should seek help. Empowered people know their own limits and have no problems with asking for help or guidance.
Values are opinions or beliefs that are important to us but of which we are not always aware.
They can be any kind of belief or perceived obligation, anything we prefer and for any reason. The reasons we may prefer one thing over another, or choose one course of action over another may not always be obvious or known; there may be no apparent reason. Nevertheless our values are important to us as individuals. Values such as integrity and courage help us make critical decisions. In order to be self-aware it is necessary to be aware of our values, to critically examine them and to accept that our values may be different from those of others.
An individual’s skills are the main resource which enables them to achieve their desired goals. Skills can be gained through experience, practice, education and training. It is only by developing such skills that individual values can be translated into action.
Setting goals is a means by which an individual can take charge of his/her life. The process of setting a goal involves people thinking about their values and the direction that they would like their lives to follow. Choices are made through reflection followed by action. Goals should always be both specific and realistic. Setting personal goals gives us a sense of direction in life, this direction is essential to personal empowerment.
- Developing Confidence
Confidence acts as one of the greatest motivators or most powerful limitations to anyone trying to change their behaviour and become more empowered. Most people only undertake tasks that they feel capable of doing and it takes great effort to overcome a lack of confidence in one’s capabilities. Self-empowerment involves people constantly challenging their own beliefs and what they are capable of undertaking.
Self-knowledge, often referred to as self-awareness, is a strength which enables you to set personal improvement goals in order to make a more substantial contribution. The more empowered you become, the more you will be able to help others to become empowered.