Blog /January 2011
By John Woodruff
Empowerment — everybody uses the word. I don’t find many talking about what that word means to them — in their own words.
Let me begin with the dictionary. em-pow-er \ verb : to give official authority or legal power to – em-pow-er-ment \ noun
I ponder moments of my life, from time to time. Preparing to write about empowerment led me to contemplate just when and why did I feel empowered — truly believed in my heart of hearts that I had the official authority and legal power concerning decisions about my life. Had this been given to me? If so, by whom?
I believe I handed over that official authority and legal power to myself, with the assistance of very supportive friends. These friends helped me confront the inaccuracies in some old stories I had always shared about my life.
I have always been a good storyteller. I realized I could no longer fake it by fabricating fictional life-stories. These fabrications let others believe that my life resembled some Hollywood fiction I had crafted. I realized fiction did not hold me in good stead any longer. I had never been open and honest about my need for the support of others.
Seven years ago I went to work re-evaluating the fiction I had crafted. Why did I need a happy ending for each story? How could I share stories honestly, without dwelling on the past, rather focusing on the change that had brought me to be honest? Most importantly I wanted to tell others where I saw myself going. I discovered this was my true reason for being a storyteller.
I remember the first time I shared a newly crafted story with complete honesty. I was on the phone with one of my dearest friends in Maryland. I guess it felt easier to try this out on the phone. The worst that could happen; she would hang up. After checking up about the weather and how things were going, I said, "Remember that story about my brother’s birthday? Well there are a few things I’d like change about that story." My palms were sweaty; my stomach was tight. Yet the re-crafting of that story wasn’t a big deal at all in my friend’s opinion.
I began a fresh method where I am frank about myself and feel confident that I may accept myself just as I am. My newly crafted stories flourish describing a much happier person.
Now I admit I don’t always remember I am the source of my authority and power. I developed a lifelong habit of questioning myself and not feeling that I measure up to some insurmountable standards I set. I add this habit is quite comfortable and often surfaces without my noticing. I mentioned a lack of belief casually in an e-mail to a friend. I am very good at putting myself down through habit. This incredible friend responded, "I have never sensed a ‘lack of belief’ from you; rather a selectivity in what you believe..."
Suddenly my source of authority and power glowed within me again.