Was it as recently as New Year’s Eve when you watched the ball drop in Times Square and devoted yourself to your newest set of personal goals for 2015?
Was it within the last year? Did you
accomplish something great that made you feel as if you could conquer the universe?
Or was it even further back in time?
Do you remember how it felt inside?
I bet you felt as if you were grabbing your life by the shirt collar and telling it that you are the one in control of your empowerment, not other people, the government, your destiny, karma, or your circumstances.
Admittedly, sometimes it’s difficult to attain that sense of self-empowerment when you have a disability. I have been there many times myself. While it’s true we all play a part in getting that feeling of liberation we are craving, it isn’t always easy. We have things to contend with that other people don’t have, and that can bring us down.
I have often felt stuck in a rut because of a few aspects of my own life that have made me feel totally boxed in. I had that feeling of frustration and helplessness that you get when you try to think of every answer and potential solution. Then, you realize there isn’t any outcome that doesn’t result in an unfavorable way.
For example, due to having a tube in my trachea, I sometimes have days where I develop a pesky cough. I have to use a suctioning device to clear the tube out so I can breathe better and hopefully rid myself of the junk that is causing the coughing (yes, I know I am bordering on the line of too much information but bear with me here).
These days are unpredictable and random, but don’t happen often. However, when they do happen, so much of my energy is spent coughing that I rarely will go anywhere or do anything.
I end up completely drained, sometimes my lungs feel a bit tight or sore, other times I don’t feel too bad. Either way, it affects my life in ways I wish it didn’t. I don’t particularly like hacking my lungs out in public, nor do I like having to go to my vehicle or to another room to suction.
There have been times my plans have been totally ruined because I’m not physically at my best.
Clearly, these are not times that make me feel empowered in life. I handle them the only way I know how, and that’s all I can do. There is no avoiding the problem totally. If these instances of coughing occurred more often, I would feel majorly defeated.
I know there aren’t a lot of you who can relate to my issue specifically–the point is, it’s something completely out of my control. I know there is at least one thing you feel the same way about in your own life.
Taking Back Control
I won’t claim to have the answers to make all of your empowerment sucking issues disappear, but I will share with you a list of ways you may be able to increase empowerment for yourself in other areas of your life.
We are not weak and defeated people.
While we may be hindered somewhat individually (everyone is hindered in some capacity), we cannot let whatever these limitations are shut us down from making our marks in society and beyond, affect our opinions about our abilities or ourselves, nor dictate who we should be.
Let’s face it, just sitting and letting life pass us by because we feel our circumstances totally rule us is…well, it’s bullshit. And that statement can apply to anyone in the world, not just individuals who have disabilities.
So, how can we pump ourselves up and drive ourselves down the paths we would most love to travel?
Empowering your life with these seven steps.
- Take responsibility for your thoughts, emotions, and choices. This may be one of the most difficult tasks to undertake. It’s really tough to change our thought processes and emotional reactions. We need to start here though, in order to really begin the steps to building self-empowerment. We are responsible for how we feel as a result of anything that goes on in our lives, not other people. While we cannot change how we react to everything, we can begin to recognize what is worth stressing out over or not. We can also decide not to leave choices pertaining to us in the hands of others.
It’s so important to make our own choices whenever possible. This is what gives us more control.
As I have gotten older, I have learned how to assess situations more effectively and choose what is truly worth using my energy on. It takes time to do it, but it’s like the saying goes, “Choose your battles wisely.” Don’t use up precious energy on worrying about the small stuff.
- Create something or utilize your skillset. With the advancement of computers and the internet, there is so much that can be created. Technology has made it possible for anyone to have access to creative tools in various mediums. We can digitally paint and draw, sculpt 3D objects, create videos, and much more. There are websites that allow us to print books, put our own art on tangible objects, or turn 3D creations into reality. Not to mention the areas of writing and blog creation.
If art or writing isn’t up your alley, assess your skills and figure out a way to use them. Maybe you are an expert on a certain topic and could teach a workshop. You could also go into consulting. There are endless possibilities to find a way to create or share a skill you are good at, online or offline.
I have currently been using my skills to develop and write for my blog and write for Audacity. I also have a degree in art, and there are so many more online venues to create something using my (rusty) design skills than there were ten years ago! I am exploring various options to try out. I will keep you updated on that!
- Build your presence on social media. I know you have opinions; everyone does! Social media is a great way to express yourself and communicate with the world. It’s also a great means of connecting with others who you might not otherwise have met. You have every right to be heard, and you shouldn’t feel as if you are restricted to remaining silent about what is on your mind. Feel empowered by your thoughts and your voice and all the ways you can use them!
This is a tricky one for me–at least on Twitter! The character limit is too small for most of what I want to say, but I try to tweet every day. Find the social media platform that you like best!
- Leave comparisons at the door. You are unique, as is everyone else on the planet. Don’t try to compare yourself to anyone you may think is better than you. I will tell you point blank, nobody is better than you; everyone has lived a very different life. You cannot completely duplicate the success of another person because we all take different paths to get where we are. Concentrate on strengthening your own skills and abilities. Be proud of what you are good at, and know that you are the only individual who possesses that specific combination of skills.
Admittedly, I struggled with this for a long time growing up. It still creeps up on me every once in awhile; but, I realize I do things at my own pace and in my own way. I have gotten comfortable with that mindset. Life is not a race.
- Find someone who inspires you. I think it’s good to find a person who inspires you, especially if they are accomplishing things that you would like to one day achieve. I often find motivation by discovering what others are doing. It helps me to envision the possibilities that lie ahead for myself. The goal here is not to compare what I am doing to what they are doing–it is simply a tool for me to keep moving ahead and striving for my future.
You should see my feed reader! I am inspired by so many bloggers out there! The beauty of the internet is every blogger has a different way of doing what they love and in doing so, they teach me so much. I follow the Wonder Forest blog by Dana (thewonderforest.com). It’s a blog with a bit of everything, but it has mainly creative and design content.
- Set and achieve a list of goals. This is an important one. Writing goals out for yourself will help you reach them. When you have your set of goals listed in front of you, it helps to reinforce them and to keep you on track. Completing a goal in itself, no matter how big or small, is a huge source of empowerment. Don’t forget to keep your goals realistic and manageable and you may find yourself checking things off faster than you realized.
My list of goals for the year is still expanding, and I am writing them down. I have found in the past that actually putting them in writing has helped me complete more tasks. It not only keeps me motivated, but also a little more organized.
- Advocate for the rights of yourself and others. If you feel you, or someone else’s rights as a person have been trampled on, you have a reason to address this. Without taking action in these situations, nothing will change. We have the power to change them for ourselves. We need to stick up for our equality. It might not be the easiest thing to do, but we can’t remain quiet on these matters. By communicating effectively what the concern is to the party who may be committing the negative act, we can make a first step towards successful advocacy.
Doing that won’t just be empowering for yourself, but it will be empowering for the entire population of individuals with disabilities as a whole.
Advocacy doesn’t have to always mean protests. You can be an advocate in your everyday life. For example, I am an advocate in my daily living by communicating my needs and issues to my homecare provider. This doesn’t just help me in the long run. It will hopefully help the company to improve services with other clients too.
Remember, you aren’t alone in feeling stuck in life sometimes. Everyone feels they have lost their power and been in a rut at some point; but there are ways to build your self-empowerment and feel on top of the game.
Have other suggestions on how to build self-empowerment? Comment below or tweet me @Rangeelichick. I would love to hear what you do to take control of your daily life.
Did you like this article? Read more articles from Tashauna’s column, My Life: Straight Up with a Twist! Comment and share with your community.
Editor’s Note: Tashauna is now a paid contributor for Audacity Magazine. Woohoo! Very exciting!
It was made possible because of your contributions. We can’t wait to introduce more freelance writers throughout the rest of the year or until the money runs out! (Yikes!)
Thank you again for being audacious enough to support our mission of living audaciously one day at a time!
You can check out the list of audacious donors here.