By its very definition, “Empowered” is “having the knowledge, confidence, means, or ability to do things or make decisions for oneself.”
Sounds simple, eh?
For me, it wasn’t, and if you’re reading this, it might be the same case for you.
When I was younger, I used to believe that empowerment should be about constantly breaking barriers. Constantly pushing my capabilities despite discomfort.
I used to believe that empowerment meant that I had to prove something to the world like I’m wasting away my chances if I don’t produce results.
I used to believe that I needed to say yes to everything. Older now, my thoughts have shifted.
And I’m sharing them with you.
Here, the 9 unmistakable signs that you’re evolving into your most empowered self.
1) You know your pace.
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint; pace yourself accordingly.” — Amby Burfoot
What do I mean by this? Glad you asked.
When you know your pace, you don’t panic. You don’t needlessly stress yourself out because you trust that you are going at the pace you’re most comfortable at.
You don’t fear going too fast or too slow, just right.
For so long, I thought being empowered required urgency. And in some cases, that checks out, but I realized that that only applies to people who can operate at that pace.
Empowerment isn’t always rushed. Empowerment is knowing that you can set the pace at which you walk through life, how you decide, how you interact, and how you live.
Either way, it’s your choice.
2) You mind your own business.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary
You don’t get distracted by what doesn’t concern you. You don’t allow yourself to be pulled into drama you know you have no business being in.
You focus on your goals and the road ahead.
You stay in your lane, so to speak.
And it’s because you don’t feel like you’re in a competition with others. You understand that like you, other people are moving at their own pace.
We win at different paces, too. So why compete? Why bother attempting to covet what isn’t yours?
This isn’t to say healthy competition is not helpful. It certainly is, especially under the genuine desire to advance a common goal. When it is for motivation and not insecurities.
3) Mistakes become learning experiences instead of something to fear.
“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
Look, I’m not telling you to be infallible. Not at all. I don’t think that’s what empowerment is about.
Being empowered is knowing that even if you make mistakes, even if you fail, it will not define you. Rather, you are defined by what you do in the thick of it and the aftermath.
Do you let it deter you from your goals? From your peace of mind? Or do you turn them into stepping stones to bring you closer to your desired outcome?
4) You are secure in who you are.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Similar to knowing your own pace is being secure in who you are. This isn’t me telling you that you need to know who you are from the get-go.
Nope, but it’s knowing that despite changes, growth, and reinventions, that it’s part of who you are.
And that you are okay with that.
You no longer hurry your improvements, you no longer demand more from yourself than you could give at any given time.
You don’t pressure yourself to be someone you are not.
5) Your self-talk is positive.
“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” ― Germany Kent
You have your back, always. And it shows in your self-talk.
Your internal monologue is kind or at the very least, objective. No longer do you beat yourself up for what you cannot change.
No longer do you bring yourself down. You have become patient with yourself, allowing yourself to make mistakes and learning from them (which is the next point, btw.)
You affirm and trust your strength and capabilities.
6) You understand that you are not your past.
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” ― Oscar Wilde
Nostalgia is a powerful ally, but it could also be a powerful enemy. There are times that it feels like the past is out to haunt us.
And it is catching up.
But an unmistakable sign that you’re in your #EmpoweredEra is this: You understand that while your past contributed to who you are, it is not all that you are.
You don’t allow your past to dictate your present so even when it catches up to you, you don’t flinch. You don’t take it to heart, you take the lessons for what they are and move forward.
Honestly, that’s a #PowerMove.
7) You are adaptive.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
– widely credited to Dolly Parton.
A change of plans might make you trip, but it will not make you stumble. You have become quick on your feet.
You have learned to adapt to the detours of life.
And this is a sign of being empowered because you are acutely aware of your capabilities and your strengths. You have become aware of just how skilled you are or that what you don’t know yet, you can learn on the fly.
That you can roll with the punches, so to speak.
8) You prioritize yourself.
“If you prioritize yourself, you are going to save yourself.”
― Gabrielle Union, We’re Going to Need More Wine.
Bear with me, as this is a list within a list:
- You have set healthy boundaries and you constantly affirm and reaffirm them.
- You can say no without burden.
- You decide what’s best for you.
- You don’t allow disrespect.
- You are accountable for yourself.
- You surround yourself with things and people that will enrich you.
- You don’t apologize needlessly (a show of hands for those of us who constantly apologized for no reason!)
A note on over-apologizing
Let me preface this by saying that this doesn’t apply to situations where you genuinely need to ask for forgiveness. This is geared towards the needless over-apologizing that a good bit of us are prone to do.
With that said, a handy tool I learned and slowly incorporated in my life, until it has become muscle memory is saying “Thank you” instead of “Sorry”.
In this way, we acknowledge and appreciate the effort of the other person.
- Saying “Thank you for your patience” instead of (but better alongside with) “Sorry I’m late!”
- Saying “Thank you for sharing your wisdom” instead of “Sorry for taking up so much of your time!”
- “Thank you for indulging me” instead of “Sorry, is that a silly question?”
Not gonna lie, this took a really long while to learn. I was so accustomed to over-apologizing and shedding the habit took enormous effort.
Is it worth it, though? Heck yeah.
9) You empower others.
“How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.” – Unknown
And last but definitely not the least, you empower others.
You know the time and work it took to get to where you are, the grit it took to come out stronger. The lengths you had to go to to arrive as your most empowered self.
You understand this burden, and why wouldn’t you help others if you could?
You have become even more empathic and more understanding of the struggles.
And as you run at the pace you have set for yourself, you’ve seen others do the same.
You’ve also seen how others need a push to course correct, perhaps you have been in that spot, too. And someone who came before you offered help when you needed it most.
You could be that person now for someone else. And you lose nothing by helping others on this journey.
I can even argue that, with this, you win. Oh, how you win.