Women in Livingness, 17th February 2019 // As presented by Natalie Benhayon
... From Empowerment to Power
I kind of knew what empowerment wasn’t when I walked into the latest Women in Livingness presentation, From Empowerment to Power. But to be able to say exactly what empowerment is or rather importantly how to get it or feel it, I couldn’t do that. Cut to after the presentation by Natalie Benhayon, founder and CEO of Esoteric Women’s Health, I no longer feel like I’m living in a world where #empowerment is the latest buzzword.
The notion of empowerment has been around for a long time, but in a somewhat exaggerated and new-agey kind of way that has never been very appealing for me. Do a quick online search of the word and all manner of definitions and approaches on how to ‘get’ empowered appear. There are pretty aggressive images mostly to do with a woman pumping her fists in the air on top of a mountain... which to me does not give me a real sense of what empowerment actually is, just an image of what exhaustion is!
It’s common to believe that empowerment is being a super-woman. You know, the ones who are raising a family, holding down a full-time job, doing the housework, all the while looking young and sexy? We have the illusion that for a woman to be empowered she has to do everything on her own without complaints or taking care of herself in the process. #hardass doesn’t have to be the hashtag that goes with being CEO
It’s also common amongst society to think we need to do something super great or uber-special to feel empowered, like climb a mountain, run a marathon or give birth without drugs... and while we're at it;
Do we need to rise to the top of the boardroom to feel empowered?
Is having the feminist ‘we-don’t-need-men’ attitude the way to feel empowered?
Do we need to have the solutions to everyone’s problems to feel empowered?
Are you empowered if you have a one-night stand or save your virginity until marriage?
Does posting photos of yourself in a skimpy bra mean you’re empowered?
Funny thing is, we do know that empowerment is not posing in a skimpy clothing for some sort of recognition and attention, and yet we have teenage girls and grown women posting photos like this on social media everyday and is considered normal.
While you may or may not define empowerment as any of the above, if even one woman does, we have a problem. The message of what being empowered is, is unclear. We have brands, organisations, sports stars, actresses and models who all say they stand for empowerment, but is the message they bring actually role-modelling empowerment for women?
The #MeToo #genderequality and #equalpay campaigns are not empowerment. They are corrections in a society that has dropped its standards so low that women have to fight to be seen as an equal gender. Burning bras did not empower women. We don’t become empowered through a fight – that only gets us to ground zero.
The world is telling us how to be; do we have to listen?
In stunning form, Natalie Benhayon posed all the right questions to a packed audience of over 100 women, while an additional 200+ tuned in around the globe. Women began to unravel the ideals and beliefs around empowerment that they had accrued over the years. We definitely all want empowerment in some form, call it confidence or self-assurance if you will, but we are getting lost in the seeking of it.
But why would we want empowerment?
Achievements are nothing without a rock solid feeling within. And it's worse when it looks great on the outside but you don't feel full of love and appreciation for yourself on the inside. With empowerment, you become a steady rock. To feel committed, adoring, complete, nurturing, bold, precious, consistent, encouraging and unwavering is our biggest craving. The alternative? To feel anxious, flighty, hollow, unsure, scared, unsettled, wired, erratic, judgmental, regretful or numb.
So, say you do decide it’s worth giving a go, how would we get to that steady rock-ness?
We get to empowerment when we honour ourselves. In its simplicity, it is about claiming and appreciating what we already know to be there within us. Put another way, it is about making choices that don’t disregard ourselves or override what we feel to be true with where we are placed in our everyday. Each stage or cycle of life has a certain quality and each feels a little differently in our body; we get to empowerment through living in accordance with our cycles.
For example, a teenager living empowered has the guts to ‘taste test’ life and try something new by measuring it against a solidness already felt in the body. If it matches, then they have discovered something new in life; if it doesn’t, they simply need to ‘spit it out’ and move on. On the contrary, a teenager not living in an empowered way will be likely to follow trends and behaviours to fit-in, so not only do they taste, they eat and enjoin even if the flavour does not match any level of regard they have from themselves.
Another example being a woman in her 50’s will connect with the wisdom she has already lived and will make a choice about a new experience from that place, by not holding back any of her common sense, knowledge or already lived experience. Here we can see that a way to empowerment is always within and referencing life from what is felt there, rather from the outside world dictating how we are to feel within.
These cycles support us to share our inner qualities with one another as we grow, learn, deepen and confirm ourselves and each other through the ages. Consistently living in this way, we experience true power and can express ourselves free of ideals, beliefs, pressures, expectation, restriction, boxes or frames. We are able to sit back and observe life, knowing we don’t have to try and be anything or to have all the answers.
How often do we lose our connection to our power because we want to ‘say something smart’ and be identified by what we did or said for someone?
When talking with other women we can be in a space that supports and enables another to reach their own realisations is power-full. We can empower them to know they have the answers within themselves already. We can use our understanding of cycles to guide conversations so another can choose wisely for themselves, in the natural inner response they feel, from the cycle they are currently in.
“Empowerment is the foundation needed in order to be able to put yourself into the position of being in your power, and or start discovering what your power is. Being the listener, the ‘James Bond’ observer, just collecting cues, letting the other be, not thinking, not rescuing, not solving, just receiving, and you are in your power.” [Natalie Benhayon]
Which brings us to Sisterhood – our capacity to deeply connect with another and let them in, one-to-one, male or female. It is being with someone and having no reservations about showing them everything you feel and know without trying to lessen ourselves to avoid judgments, jealousy, comparisons and put-downs. It is the quality of two people collaborating and using conversation to empower ourselves and each other. Through sisterhood, we are a greater humanity.
To be empowered and to be in your power is a beauty beyond physicality. To live this is very natural and not a big deal, but it's made to be a big deal so we will think we can't go for it and express it to the world. A woman being content with who she is might throw other women off balance (it does!), but that’s okay; don't ruin yourself for another.
"Why can’t nurturing run the world?” [Natalie Benhayon]
Why not indeed.