Do you ever feel like some things in this world conspire to dis-empower you? Like they’re there just to muck up your gears? Send you on wild-goose chases? Well, you’re right. The conspiracies abound. Our rivals and enemies conspire against us—usually about competition. Sometimes our neighbors, acquaintances, and even our families and friends conspire against us–often about things like greed or jealousy. And we conspire against ourselves. That may be the biggest secret of all.

Granted, some conspiracies are good, are for our benefit. Think family and friends conspiring to throw you a surprise party to celebrate your latest achievement. Or conspiring to get a Jewish family safely out of Nazi Germany. But that’s not what we usually think of when we hear the word “conspiracy,” is it? We usually think of something nefarious, something dangerous.

The most hideous thing about conspiracies is their ability to dis-empower us, a power which seeps up out of their secretive nature. Concealment, disguise, and spin make them difficult to distinguish unless you have your lens adjusted a certain way, like adjusting a microscope.

In order to be more empowered, you must know in what ways you’re dis-empowered, so let’s expose the conspiracies. The number one way we are dis-empowered involves a conspiracy against ourselves. This one comes from the inside.

 

#1. To the extent that you are dependent, you are dis-empowered.

Isn’t this one simple to understand, once you think about it? The more you depend on others for getting your basic needs fulfilled, the more of your own power you relinquish to someone else. You can be dependent in many ways–emotionally, financially, physically. . . . Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable. We all have periods of dependency in our lives–when we find ourselves too ill or injured to take care of ourselves, for instance. Some of our dependencies must be accepted, but most of them are the result of choices we make–and we can make different choices.

How do you conspire against yourself to create your dependencies? I’m not talking about the unavoidable ones. You know what to do with those. You accept the parts you can’t change and look for ways to coax and nurture something positive out of it. Simple as that. (I know, I know, not quite, but still….) I’m talking about the ones you tell yourself you can’t–but you really could, you just don’t want to. Or you don’t know if you can, yet you’re afraid to find out. So you conspire to dis-empower yourself. You make excuses for yourself, and then you let yourself get away with it. You know who you are–and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Stop it. Buck up, sweetheart. The planet needs you. You need you.

Self-empowerment begins with self-responsibility…

Do you accept responsibility for your health, making sure you exercise and eat healthy food? Good health lays the foundation for empowerment. You think you’re dis-empowered now? Wait ’til your body starts breaking down because you didn’t respect it enough for too long. Go ahead, ask me how I know. And having the knowledge in your head, knowing what to do isn’t enough. That’s just the starting point. You don’t get to cross the finish line unless you’re actually doing it. (What did you want to ask me?)

Do you do your part to take care of the environment? Of your personal environment? Do you take care of your responsibilities yourself?

Do you blame others for your situation in life? For your problems? “If so-and-so had/hadn’t done/said that, I could have done/had/been…”

Do you use the behavior of others to excuse your own? “So-and-so acts like this or does that, so I’m going to behave obnoxiously, too.” Do you understand that when you do that, you’re handing them the power to control your behavior as surely as if you obeyed orders?

You cannot be empowered while playing the victim card.

No, I’m not telling you that all the problems in your life are your fault, and that no one else can create problems for you. That’s quite a naive idea. No one who has spent much time dealing with people believes that. But even when that’s the case, you still control how you respond, and in your response, you can make your situation worse or better.

The only way out of the victim trap is to take responsibility for yourself–for what you say, for what you do, for your “mistakes.” I don’t like the word “mistakes.” It’s gotten a bad rep; most people cringe when they hear it, because it imposes a sense of disaster, and carries a certain false sense of finality. I prefer to call them “course correctors,” which is much more accurate. Calling them “experiments” works well, too. Both imply many possible results. Being open-ended, both allow room for future action to mean something. It’s easier to take responsibility for them when you see them for what they really are–stepping stones.

Self-empowerment requires that you “own it.” Stand up for yourself, and own it. Stand tall, take a deep breath, and say, “I did it.” You’ll likely live through it and stand taller afterwards without trying. Even if no one else hears you say it, you can be more empowered just admitting a thing to yourself. It can bring a sense of relief, a sense of a load being lifted.

…and self-reliance.

Self-reliance stands strong as one of the faces of self-responsibility, and it comes in many forms and many degrees. It can be as simple as preparing your own food instead of eating out, or actually growing some of your own food–for which there are several options, even if you live in a tenth floor apartment. Or it can be as complete and complex as homesteading off-grid, growing all of your own food, and making most of the things you need.

Make a list of all the ways you can think of that you can be more self-reliant. Choose the form(s) that appeal to you and the degree you can handle, and then go with it. Your choices will depend on your environment, circumstances, and resources. Be realistic. If something on your list “speaks” loudly to you, but you don’t have the resources to carry it out, you will either have to leave it or figure out how to access the resources. If you have a long list, approach it in steps instead of all at once. Just keep in mind that the more self-reliant you can be, the more empowered you will be, especially if/when the SHTF (shit hits the fan).

Self-empowerment does not mean that you know all the answers; it means that what you don’t know, you will find or figure out. It doesn’t mean that you must always stand alone; it means you must stand on your own two feet, even when standing and working with others. You must “pull your own weight,” as they used to say. It does not mean that you’re never fearful; it means you believe in yourself to do what you must when the need arises—to stand and fight when necessary, but to run when that’s the appropriate action! Being courageous doesn’t mean being stupid!

The most important thing to understand about self-empowerment is that it’s all about knowing that you can count on yourself, knowing that you have the skill, the knowledge, the strength of character to meet whatever challenge confronts you. How do you get that knowledge? By being as self-responsible and self-reliant as you can. How else are you going to know you can count on yourself?

As always, I wish you love, peace–and empowerment!