Taking Control of Your Life
Author Xenia Tchoumi explains exactly why you should empower yourself
by Xenia Tchoumi
Empowerment refers to a set of measures taken to increase autonomy and self-determination. The dictionary definition of empowerment is ‘1. authority or power given to someone to do something; 2. the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.’ To me, being empowered also means being able to think for yourself: you should be able to decide the type of thoughts you think, not your subconscious, the advertising industry, your partner or family, the news or the government.
If you really think for yourself, your own decisions should bring you to a successful life. And by that I don’t simply mean more financially successful – I mean an all-encompassing success that leads to a happier, healthier and more aware life, completely in tune with yourself.
Make Your Own Choices
With empowerment comes a great deal of responsibility. As you understand that you can influence the events in your life, it is important for you to stop blaming other people, or society or the government. No successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met has given credit to or blamed their failures on others. The first step to self-empowerment, and therefore to a successful, fulfilling life, is to face the unease of taking full responsibility for one’s choices. Be it small choices, like ‘What time will I go to bed tonight?‘ or way bigger ones, like ‘Shall I move to a new city to start a new job?‘ Decision-making can be trained by doing it, just like strengthening a muscle – it’s a habit that can only be developed by practising it over and over again.
It’s easy to take the credit when something positive happens – and yes, that feels great. But if you take the credit for the positive things, you should also take full responsibility for the negative events in your life. If you’d behaved differently, could any of these situations have been avoided? And what can you do to make a current difficult situation better for yourself and those around you?
To realise how your own behaviour might have shaped a negative event, at times it might be enough to look just a couple of steps backward, to a few hours or days earlier. But when the connection isn’t evident, and the itch to shift the blame onto someone else (another person or group or the government or society itself) becomes irresistible, then you might have to think back years, even decades, to work out what you did when that got you where you are today.
Now you might object that this is unfair: that people are born in a war zone, or end up in a freak accident, or get an incurable disease from a mean gene, or otherwise fall victim to a completely unexpected twist of luck through no fault of their own. Do I believe in the concept of luck? Yes, absolutely. Life’s starting points might be completely different: one person is born with a silver spoon and great genetics, and someone else has to survive in terrible conditions. That is why I support organisations that fight for children to have a more equal start in life.
While we cannot have full control over the events in our life, we still can strongly influence the amount of good or bad luck that we accumulate throughout the years. They say, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, and I believe that so strongly that I’ve written a new book, Empower Yourself, which aims to help you find ways of doing that. Our mindset and our actions ultimately lead to major life changes and twists in fortune. I’ve seen it happen, to me and to many successful people around me. Hard work – and self work – truly does pay off.
I’m sure you are familiar with the saying ‘when it rains, it pours’, which means that misfortunes or difficult situations tend to follow each other in rapid succession or to arrive all at the same time. It’s a spiral that starts small, but through repetition lands you in bigger and bigger trouble. The phrase was actually used in 1911 by an ad agency for the Morton Salt company, following a new breakthrough in table salt production. Morton Salt created a smaller-grain salt that wouldn’t cake and clump together when humidity increased so now, when it rained, the salt still poured. This very positive connotation of the phrase has been completely forgotten over the decades.
The bottom line of this anecdote is that ‘when it rains, it pours’ also works the other way around: good fortune attracts more good fortune. If you take responsibility for what happens in your life, if you analyse and methodically make adjustments to what doesn’t work, as well as celebrating your own successes and giving yourself the credit for them, you will start feeling truly empowered.
Self-empowerment is one of the main keys to a successful life, whatever it might mean to you on a personal level. Only by taking responsibility for the events that happen in your life can you fully feel that you’re the master of your own destiny.