What is empowerment, really?
If you’re a self-improvement enthusiast, you’ve probably devoured a ton of books on the topic of personal power. You’ve most likely read, watched or even attended the seminars of highly confident and successful people such as Tony Robbins, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brow, Gabrielle Bernstein, Don Miguel Ruiz, Gary Chapman, and many others.
While all of these writers, motivational speakers and counsellors provide wonderfully useful and empowering advice, you can’t help but feel an itch after a while. Eventually you scratch that itch by moving on to the next inspiring author. And then you move on to the next, and the next, and the next. After a few years, you have piles of self-improvement books accumulating in your house. Before you know it, you have 30, 50 and then an entire bookcase of books and materials which promise things like “more happiness,” “more confidence,” “more success,” “more openness” and so on.
No doubt, these books helped inspire new choices, feelings and mindsets in your life. These authors might have also been the catalysts to major change and breakthroughs. But no matter how much time you spend working on yourself, you constantly find that there is more-and-more-and-more to improve on. In other words, you can never quite feel happy with yourself. And like Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to endlessly roll a rock up a mountain, only to have it roll back down again, you are somehow trapped in an endless loop of feeling not-good-enough.
Somehow, without knowing it, you get stuck in an addiction, an addiction of wanting to be cleaner, saner and better.
In your mind’s eye you are constantly working towards the idealized version of yourself: a picture of greatness, on par with Eckhart Tolle or some other great man or woman you admire.
But as you constantly race towards the “finish line” you lose sight of the fact that you have become like a mouse running on a wheel. And time is running out.
How Self-Improvement Addiction is EVERYWHERE
Everywhere we look these days, we are told that we aren’t good enough. On the TV, radio, internet, movies and advertisements we are told that we’re not pretty enough, manly enough, slim enough, toned enough, cool enough and successful enough.
In the field of self-improvement, we’re also given many tantalizing promises. Many of these promises involve thinking, feeling and behaving in “better, more improved” ways. While this advice can of course be very helpful up until a certain point, it can also be extremely limiting.
Because self-improvement is based on the premise that you are inherently flawed, broken or lacking. It is invested in the belief that sometime in the future, you will be fixed, secure and comfortable in your skin. It assumes that your natural state of being is inadequate and lacking.
But here’s the truth: that static point in the future is an illusion. That idealized version of yourself doesn’t exist. You are chasing vapor. You are pursuing a mirage.
Innocently, many of us believe that there is a special point in the future when we will be “happy and at peace at last.” We believe quite strongly in what all of these people tell us about who we are because they appear to be in positions of “power,” and we aren’t.
But please, if you take anything away from this article, remember this: there is a big difference between self-help and self-improvement, but a very fine line. Helping yourself to change and overcome negative patterns is natural and healthy. But becoming addicted to the idea of “improving” yourself is not.
And most of us become addicted to this ideal.
The reality is that you can’t force true improvement. Improvement naturally occurs as a result of mindful cultivated presence in the present moment. So if you want to pursue anything, pursue being here, now!
The more you seek to detoxify, control and subtly wage war with all of your flaws, insecurities and perceived limitations in this very moment, the more you suffer. And the more you unconsciously perpetuate the idea that “you are not enough,” the more distant you become from your true nature.
How many of you out there have read books by enlightened gurus such as Eckhart Tolle, Osho, Krishnamurti, Gangaji, Mooji, Lao Tzu, and so forth?
Likely you found them very amazing, even life-changing. You might have watched youtube videos, listened to recordings, or attended live satsangs that blew your mind. You might even have your own private guru or yogi, whom, let’s face it, you absolutely idolize. You love their presence, you love their serenity, you love their intelligence, you love their humor, you love the truth and light they emanate. And deep down, you desperately want to be like them.
Don’t worry, I’ve experienced this as well. The longer and more intense your spiritual journey is, the more likely you’ll reach this point of absolute intoxication with the “enlightenment” ideal. You will seek and yearn for it with a passionate intensity. Why? Because it represents the holy grail to all of your problems.
Unfortunately the very act of seeking some “enlightened state” perpetuates the addictive cycle of wanting to improve yourself.
Let me explain this with an example from my own life.
Eventually I’ve come to a stop.
Cleansing my chakras, learning fancy meditation techniques, doing yoga, taking psychoactive plants, eating high vibrational foods, chanting, reading endless spiritual books … all of these things have shown me that the self-improvement quest is EXHAUSTING. It completely depletes your energy. It constantly reminds you of how “lacking” you are or how much more you need to “do” to be better, more spiritual, more enlightened.
Idolising a spiritual teacher of some sort makes it even worse. You look at them, then you look at yourself, and you realize how “inadequate” you are … how flawed, how worthless. Compared to them, compared to all these spiritual people, you feel like absolute dog sh*t.
Have you been there before?
What is Empowerment?
Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. ~ Rumi (The Essential Rumi)
So we arrive back at the original question: what is empowerment? Many people write about empowerment, but they write about it in the context of improving yourself, which ironically destroys the entire point of empowering yourself!
In the realm of self-improvement, empowerment is solely to do with bettering the body, the mind, the emotions and the personality. It doesn’t reach into the deepest core of what true empowerment is.
The deepest core of true empowerment is this:
you are already whole and complete.
YOU are power.
The idea that you are anything but whole and complete in this very moment is an illusion. Yes, your problems are real. But your belief that they limit you isn’t.
No Master, guru or sage can possibly capture your own unique essence.
This is the true meaning of empowerment.
Learn to see the deep and unchanging majesty of YOU.
Many people are blocked from seeing and sensing this power because of the beliefs and assumptions they have about themselves. The ego mistakenly believes that it is powerless because it doesn’t want to accept that there is a power beyond it.
But deep beneath these layers lies a presence, a wholeness, that is YOU, which embodies the very word “power.”
This power is not bloodthirsty or arrogant. Instead, it is infinitely wise, centered, present and loving, and is expressed in your own unique way.
You don’t need to be a copycat or carbon copy of any other healer, sage or guru.
You were brought into this world to express the fragrance of your OWN soul and its own artistic expression of Spirit.
What is empowerment?
Be you. In every moment, be you. Cultivate this complete acceptance of whatever arises. Accept you. Notice what arises, perhaps boredom, frenzy, past resentments, future demands or tiredness, and allow it to be there. Don’t try to change it, correct it, punish it, control it, dramatize it, avoid it or deny it.
Accept whatever place you are at in this very moment in life. Learn to open yourself unconditionally to the messy ego that is only really a veil for your true essence.
All that is required is to wake up out of the dream state of your life to the eternal present.