You don't become empowered by becoming perfect.
An essential part of self-empowerment is to embrace all of who you are!
You don't have to be madly in love with your (take your pick) nasty, needy, helpless, confused, angry, cynical, weak, side. But to be empowered, you must, must bring compassion and empathy to it. You must, must be forgiving toward it. Because when you are not, your flaws become not only your challenges and the things you work on, on your journey to becoming a better person, they become what undermines your power.
It's not berating yourself for your flaws that turn you into Mother Teresa. It's loving them while steadily building behaviors and perspectives that are in line with who you, in your heart of hearts, want to become.
The best place for self-empowerment is to start with forgiveness of your flaws. All else, your empowerment, usefulness, effectiveness, happiness, and wholeness will flow from there.
To become forgiving and, thus, whole, you can do the following exercise:
Self-Empowerment Exercise #1
Think of three things (optional: write them down) that are strengths, that you think are great about you. What is your best feature? What are you good at? What do you get complimented on that's not something surface-y? Hold these things in your heart and soul.
Next, think of two things about you that you feel shame about or that you feel guilt about.
Now, in your mind's eye, place flaws and strengths side by side so you can clearly see that your personality contains both! Now, take a really good look at the good things about you! Maybe you're passionate! Loving. Caring! Insert here whatever your strengths are.
Step 1: Forgive
Next look at your flaws and bring that compassion, that empathy, that caring, those strengths you identified to your flaws and forgive yourself as you would forgive a good friend. Say, "Darling, I do forgive you! I forgive you!" Next, while you still feel in a forgiving mood, write a love letter to yourself, using the virtues you identified earlier as a starting point.
To help you get started, here is an example from my life.
One of my flaws is that I hold a grudge, even years later. Maybe not a grudge, exactly. But I can hold some kind of residual negative feeling towards someone who, in the past, cut me down to size for being overly passionate and vocal about my belief in the goodness of the world, or slighted me for being different. If I scroll past their name while looking up a number on my phone, I'll get a little squeeze in my heart, a little bit of a dark feeling of wanting to reject them back, even only in my mind. Not only is that a little mean and judgmental, it goes directly against my belief that we're all part of the divine. So, that's something I definitely have to forgive myself for! And more than just once, because I know for a fact, that I'll feel that judgment again in the future. I forgive them--ten times, a hundred times--as many times as my grudge surfaces. And I forgive myself--ten times, a hundred times--as many times as that flaw (and all my other flaws) surfaces.
Because I know that each of us is a part of a greater existence, a divine and beautiful mystery, I know that I am part of that too. I know that I deserve forgiveness, too. So, I hug myself around the middle and I say to myself, "Come as you are, darling! You are perfect as you are and as you are not."
Yes, I have lots of flaws. But I am also empathetic to all of life; I will save the tiniest spider that is hanging on an invisible thread in the shower or trying to crawl out of the bathtub.
I do forgive every day (I need to because, I judge every day. Hehe.)
My Love Letter to Myself Right Now
I'm fun to be around. I have a great sense of humor. I laugh a lot. I'm smart and educated. I'm a good conversationalist. I care about people. I care about the environment. I inspire people. I help people become empowered; I've touched the lives of countless people who touch the lives of so many more. I've taught students tools and concepts that have transformed their lives and healed their trauma. I've coached clients to become the divine badasses (meaning they live the life their soul is asking for) they can be. I'm really good at a lot of things: I speak two languages, I play guitar, I sing, I write songs, I'm creative as a workshop teacher, writer. I'm easy-going. I'm loving and lift people up and show them how beautiful, amazing, and worthy, and loved they are.
And because I know those things are true about me as much as are my flaws, and that, on some level, we are all the same, I know that there is a special list that is true about you, no matter your flaws. So, now put your focus on that! Because you don't become empowered by becoming perfect. You become empowered by embracing all of yourself, including your wonderfulness!
Step 2: Write You Own Love Letter
To become more empowered, right now, write your own love letter to yourself. Whether in your head, on paper, your tablet, laptop, or phone. You don't need it, but just in case you want it, know, you have permission to write that love letter, that list of goodness. You'll be surprised how it will lift you up. And if you really want to jump-start your self-empowerment and have it go off like a rocket, write one every week, maybe even several times a week.
Darling, no matter what you think of you, you are as beautiful and unique as a snowflake. There'll never be anyone else like you in the world. Sure, that statement has become a platitude. But don't listen like that. Instead, let this sink in:
You. Are. Extraordinary. There. Is. No. One. Else. In. The. World. Like. You.
Step 3: Create a Mantra
Lastly, create a mantra that helps you remember the gist of your letter so you can benefit long after having written it. My go-to mantra is: You are whole, wise, and divine, perfect as you are and as you are not.
This is a process. Your are building a self-empowerment neural network. Right now, it's a tiny baby network. To grow it: Repeat the 3 steps. The more often, the bigger and stronger, and therefore, more effective this network becomes in helping you become empowered.
Keep at it. I know you can do this!
I love you,
PS: If snowflake gave you a little twinge because of how some people use it to put other people down, read this post.
PPS: Parts of this exercise is from my self-empowerment and trauma healing course, Wise Peer.