Self-empowerment is about making a conscious decision to take control of our lives. It’s about becoming aware of our power, and giving ourselves permission to succeed by practising behaviours we know will be good for us.
Feeling empowered can give us the courage to chase our dreams, stand up for ourselves and our beliefs, and leave fear and self-doubt behind. It can be overwhelmingly liberating and allow us to live life in a way we’ve never experienced before.
So, if you’ve been struggling with self-limiting beliefs, or feeling helpless, unloved, or overlooked, then it’s important to remember that things don’t have to stay this way. There are things you can do to take the wheel of your own life, rediscover your voice, and start living a life you love.
With that said, here are eight things you can do to empower yourself every day.
1. Learn more
When it comes to learning, knowledge really is power, and the reason for this is that it unlocks doors to pathways in life that we may never have known existed. It can also increase confidence and self-awareness, and make us better equipped to make decisions and solve problems, and more open-minded about people and situations.
When it comes to choosing what to learn, the possibilities are also endless – whether you’re someone who enjoys reading autobiographies to get a window into the lives of others, developing new skills at work, or learning all sorts of trivia.
Why not try reading for 15 minutes a day to see what kind of knowledge you build and ideas you start having – who knows where it could lead? Or, why not commit to doing an hour or two a week of that hobby you’ve been wanting to take up; whether it’s painting, swimming, or gardening?
To get inspired, you might want to check out our articles; 10 fascinating things to learn about in your spare time or 9 free resources for learning new skills at home.
2. Practise positive self-talk
The way we speak to and about ourselves can have a significant impact on our confidence and self-esteem – which is why it’s important that we use kind and compassionate language. And science can vouch for this.
For example, this review of three studies, which looked at the way that a lack of power impairs mental functions like self-control, flexible thinking, and memory, concluded that self-affirmations can improve cognitive performance. Other research also found that positive affirmations can help us solve problems better under stress, which can help us build confidence in our capabilities.
Positive affirmations are phrases like “I am brave and strong” and “I can cope with anything that’s thrown my way”; and can be said in your head, out loud, or written down. Though, some people find the effects to be most powerful when said out loud while looking in the mirror.
Repeating positive statements like these to yourself might feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first, but tend to become easier and more effective with practise. For more information on positive affirmations, you might want to check out our article on the subject. While it’s written in the context of being kind to ourselves while looking for love, it contains affirmations that we can all practise whether we’re seeking a relationship or not.
It’s also important to remember that positive self-talk extends beyond conscious time spent practising self-affirmations. Many of us have a default mindset where negative thoughts about ourselves are the norm. For example, if we have the chance to apply for a promotion at work, we might avoid doing so because we think we aren’t good enough, or shy away from social situations because we think people won’t like us.
Therefore, another key step is to recognise when these negative thoughts are creeping in, and guiding our behaviours and decisions – so we can challenge them. For tips on how to do this, have a read of our article; 7 powerful ways to conquer self-limiting beliefs.
3. Lift up others
As important as it is to believe in ourselves and be our own biggest cheerleaders, we should also make an effort to encourage and lift up the people around us.
Helping others can not only help us to get out of our own heads but science has confirmed that it can also make us feel good. Plus, supporting and encouraging others can create a ripple effect and increase the likelihood of someone doing the same for you.
Try to do one thing to help someone else every day – even if it’s something as small as giving someone a compliment on their outfit or celebrating their achievements with them.
Sometimes lifting people up can also be a case of simply vocalising thoughts you might have anyway. So if you think a lot of someone or admire them for something, why not tell them, rather than keeping it to yourself?
4. Move your body in a way that makes you feel strong and good about yourself
Staying active can not only make us physically stronger but mentally stronger too. Even just making the decision to exercise can be empowering – and, when we start to feel the results of our efforts, it can encourage us to keep pushing.
Exercising regularly also requires discipline. Getting up and getting your workout done when you aren’t feeling motivated can help us build a mental toughness that we can carry through to other areas of our lives.
If you want to use movement to empower yourself, it helps to choose something you’ll enjoy and/or makes you feel good about yourself – if not during, then at least after! It’s also worth setting realistic goals at a pace or level that’s challenging yet achievable, as feeling we can’t do something can have the opposite effect than desired and leave us feeling disempowered.
For example, if you want to take up running but haven’t run in years, why not ease back in by doing the NHS Couch to 5K programme and building up your distance slowly? You might surprise yourself and run further than you think. And this can be more empowering than telling yourself that you need to be able to run the entire distance on your first attempt, and feeling disheartened if you need to stop and walk.
The fitness and exercise section of our website has plenty of ideas for ways to get active – from dancing to martial arts – if you’re looking for inspiration.
5. Look after yourself
It’s easy to underestimate how much basic things like washing our hair, getting a good night’s sleep, and wearing clothes that we like and that fit well, can have on the way that we feel about ourselves. But, when we feel our best, we’re more likely to head out into the world with confidence, which can empower us to say yes to more opportunities.
One of the biggest reasons that people tend to skip self-care is because they their needs last. But, even if you’re someone who’s always there for others, it’s important to remember that you can support others much better if you look after yourself first. I always like to think of the advice the cabin crew give to passengers on a plane before take-off – in the event that oxygen masks are needed, it’s essential to put yours on first before assisting those around you!
Other times, self-care can become difficult if you’re experiencing a low mood – in which case, making an effort to look after yourself, even when you don’t want to, can help and often becomes easier with time. Though, you may also find the tips in our article helpful for managing a low mood – and if you’re really struggling, it’s worth speaking to your GP.
If the idea of self-care feels unfamiliar to you or you’d like to start making more time for it, check out these 5 self-care practices for every area of your life from Verywell Mind.
6. Organise your life
When things feel chaotic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disempowered. But, getting organised can help you take back control of your life.
It can be useful to start by considering which areas of your life bring you the most stress or dissatisfaction. Perhaps this is something as straightforward as wasting time in the mornings looking for things you’ve misplaced, or maybe you’re tired of feeling as though you don’t have any time for yourself.
Both of these situations can be improved with some planning and organisation. For example, in the first scenario, you could set aside some time to declutter your living space, find more reliable homes for the things you keep losing, and pack your bag for work the night before.
And, in the second situation, you could try adding ‘me-time’ to your diary in the same way that you would any other work meeting or social engagement, and setting boundaries to make sure it sticks.
Organisation tends to become something that sticks the more you work at it. For more tips, check out The Spruce’s list of 10 things to do daily to be more organised.
7. Step outside of your comfort zone
Feeling too comfortable in our relationships, work lives, exercise routines, or hobbies isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can prevent growth, and make us less driven. Without this drive, we may be less likely to set ourselves new goals and to develop confidence when we achieve them. Plus, we may miss out on great opportunities, or feel uninspired and lack focus.
For example, if you avoid going to the gym because you’re worried about being judged by others, then you could be missing out on becoming a stronger, more empowered version of yourself. Or, if you’re too nervous to try anything alone, your life may feel dependent on others – which can be disempowering.
With that said, the first step in moving into a growth zone is accepting that doing so can be uncomfortable and daunting, but that this isn’t a reason to avoid trying new things. In fact, many would argue that the scariest opportunities are those that bring the greatest rewards, because they encourage us to learn and develop, and achieve things we weren’t sure we could.
So, if you feel stuck in your routines and want to shake things up, it can be useful to try one new thing everyday – even if small. Why not pick up something different at the supermarket next time you do your weekly grocery shopping? Or, why not say hi to that neighbour you usually avoid because you feel shy? Our article, 18 ways to step outside of your comfort zone, has plenty more steps you could take.
8. Set goals
Goals can vary in size but the reason that they’re so powerful is that they give us meaning, purpose, and direction in life. However, research suggests that the type of goals we set can determine how effective they are at motivating and empowering us.
After reviewing over a decade of research in the 1960s, Dr Edward Locke and Dr Gary Latham suggested that there are five goal-setting principles that can improve our chances of success.
- Clarity – setting goals that are clear and specific, as this makes it easier to create an action plan and to measure success.
- Challenge – setting goals that are realistic but challenge and encourage you to think bigger, so that you achieve more. Goals feeling too easily achievable is a sign that you probably have the capacity to strive for more.
- Commitment – firmly committing to your goals with everything you have to increase your chances of success. Try to be honest with yourself about whether you’re ready to tackle your goals head on.
- Feedback – reflecting on how well things are going and listening to feedback from others where appropriate, so that you can adjust your action plan if necessary. This part can be daunting, as most of us don’t like to admit when things haven’t gone well, but it’s often the key to learning how to do things better.
- Task complexity – make sure your goals are overly complex, as this can impact morale, motivation, and productivity. It’s worth assessing the difficulty of your goal at intervals and deciding whether it needs to be broken down into smaller subgoals.
Creating a vision board can help you create a daily reminder of your long-term goals. For tips on how to create yours, you can check out our article here. Many people also find it effective to break down their goals into daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists, and to work through them systematically, so they can clearly tick things off and see what still needs to be done.
Life is full of ups and downs, and one of the most helpful things we can do to help us get the most out of our time on earth and to navigate it as best we can, is to work on empowering and building a positive relationship with ourselves. It’s never too late to start and we hope that you find at least some of the tips in this article helpful – from learning to practising self-care.
Empowerment is a word that’s difficult to define but most of us know when we feel it, as there are few better feelings. To confidently believe that the world is your oyster and you can do whatever you put your mind to is incredibly powerful – and everyone deserves to feel that in one way or another.
For more tips on taking control of your life and striving towards your goals, you might want to check out our article; 16 ways to build confidence and self-esteem.
Do you do any of the things on this list? Is there anything else you do that empowers you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.