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August 10, 2014

Why Empowerment is Essential for Relationship Success

Empowerment is one of those words that’s often tossed around, but few really understand what it fully entails. Those who have attained a sense of empowerment feel strengthened and enriched in their life. But, until you grasp the essence of what it means to be empowered, it’s hard to understand how truly important it is in every woman’s life–and why it should become one of your primary goals.

Consider empowerment to be an individual process, a personal path or journey you must take in order to achieve self-fulfillment. Empowerment is a way to increase your ability to make healthy choices. These choices translate into positive outcomes and desired behaviors. When you aren’t empowered, it affects your sense of self and your relationships with others. In a new relationship, for instance, a woman may be so willing to please her partner that she forgets who she is and who she can become. This diminishes her self-esteem and prevents her from reaching her full potential, that of an empowered partner in her relationship.

Gail is a 50-year-old divorced, single mom, with two teenage children. Recently she met Roy, also divorced. Gail enjoys being with him and will often cancel appointments with friends if he should call at the last minute for a date. Gail thinks her girlfriends will understand since they know that she is developing a new relationship. Sometimes, Gail feels caught between loyalty to her old friends and responsibility to this new beau. She also feels guilty that she’s not being the best mother to her children. She is under a lot of stress because she is trying to please everyone. Gail often gets depressed. She doesn’t really know what she wants or how to be happy.

Like so many other women, Gail feels helpless. She feels like her life is out of control. In order to gain back her personal power, she needs to stand up for herself. She needs to gain back her self-respect by re-embracing the issues she deems important. The following are some concepts to consider in order to regain one’s sense of autonomy and self-worth–in other words to truly feel empowered.

# Learn to Self-Soothe

Take a mental, physical, and emotional break every once in a while to rejuvenate and revitalize yourself. Understand that you always have choices. It’s a choice to feel good or to feel bad. It’s a choice to feel motivated or to be idle. It is very empowering to know that you can decide how you feel, no matter what the circumstances.

Your sense of humor is also a choice. Use humor to relieve your stress. It’s important to look at the lighter side of things and to laugh, joke, and be silly. I don’t care how old you are; laughter and frivolity will diffuse tensions and help keep you aware of what’s really important. Don’t take yourself or your situation too seriously. That will only upset your mood and compromise your relationship. Nobody likes to be around moody people.

# Discuss Expectations

Be sure to openly discuss expectations before you become too emotionally involved in a relationship. For instance, do you share traditional expectations of the man being the sole provider or do you want to be an equal opportunity provider? Are you the homebody, satisfied to stay inside to read or watch TV while he is the social butterfly, always looking for friends with whom to party? Are you attached to frequently seeing your children and grandchildren, while he has little interest in promoting family togetherness? Differences such as these build up to become major issues if not addressed early on and accepted with grace.

Empowered women understand the value of discussing their expectations to be sure you both have the same intent, values, and goals. When you know where someone is coming from, you will understand the differences and not misinterpret actions or behaviors.

# Preserve Your Independence

It is extremely crucial that you preserve your independence in regard to your friendships, personal activities, and interests. As a single person, you’ve made many acquaintances and connections that you should maintain, even while developing your new relationship. You have your friends and he has his. Keep it that way, and at the same time, develop new friends together.

When you maintain your strong social network of people you trust and who are supportive, you increase your self-worth and confidence. This decision is very important when you are trying to maintain a sense of yourself in the relationship and are striving toward being an equal half of the partnership.

# Don’t Be a Martyr

Do not be a martyr. Take care of yourself, above all else, to ensure you maintain your health and well-being. You should never feel guilty about focusing on yourself and your personal care. Continuously nurture yourself through your self-talk by repeating approving messages of support and encouragement. Your personal internal dialogue should reflect your belief that you’re doing well and deserve the best in life. Say things like, “I am doing and feeling well,” “I deserve to be happy,” or “I love life and will continue to enjoy myself daily.” This dialogue will keep you focused on yourself, something too many women forget to do when in a relationship.

Continue following your daily routine. If eating out often, for example, does not make you feel comfortable (for health or weight reasons), but it is something he prefers, don’t sabotage yourself to please him. That is the opposite of empowerment. Consider your health and self-image. No relationship is worth disrupting your life and your well-being. The best thing to do is be flexible whenever possible, but always maintain the values that are very important to you.

Never compromise yourself for the sake of others. Keep your integrity and the standards that you live by, so you won’t feel put upon or diminished by anyone else. Honor yourself by thinking independently and enjoying your own perceptions and opinions. Live authentically, speaking and acting from your own convictions and values.

Eleanor Roosevelt, in her autobiography, once said, “No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent” (Klein, 2002). An empowered woman knows that the most important relationship in your life is with yourself. To find someone you like is great, but to like yourself is even greater. To respect others with admiration and love is important, but it is more vital to believe in yourself and all the good in life that you deserve. You alone, should be the judge of your own worth.

# Know Your Unique Skills and Talents

Recognize your strengths and talents so you can confidently believe in yourself. You are unique. You possess certain qualities that no one else possesses. Know what those traits are. Are you an excellent communicator or writer? Do you love socializing? Are you an avid reader or do puzzles give you the challenge you need? Acknowledge yourself for these special gifts and see them as an enhancement to your relationship. Join a book club, a social networking organization, a Latin dance class, or write your memoirs. These unique qualities are who you are. Whether you are involved with someone or not, you should never forget what you love about yourself. Continue being who you are, so your partner can realize how lucky he is.

# Remember Your Four Basic Rights

Always remember you have Rights. You, your partner, and everyone else, all deserve the same things.

They are:

1. the right to think what you think

2. the right to feel what you feel

3. the right to want what you want

4. the right to say NO

When you say NO to something that doesn’t feel right, you are saying YES to acknowledging yourself and letting in a more loving, supportive experience.

If you have the right to an opinion, so does your partner. That means, through mutual respect and understanding, you can avoid the arguments associated with trying to change someone else’s mind.

Your life is yours to control. Work on managing your challenges with skills that help you overcome obstacles and bounce back from adversity. The way you do this is by expecting things to turn out well, by staying calm in the face of turmoil, and by keeping your focus on healthy solutions and actions. When you’re in control of your life, you are free to implement the most effective coping skills and management strategies. These decisions will result in better choices and more successful outcomes for you.

# Work in Progress

Continue growing and learning from your relationships and experiences. Your depth of character and personality make you who you are, and they are impacted constantly by the deep and meaningful relationships you develop. Therefore, make sure your relationships are based on trust, respect, kindness, caring, and appreciation. In this way, the love you give and the love you receive will only enhance who you are and make you a more interesting and complete person.

# Trust Your Intuition

If anything or anyone makes you feel uneasy, don’t ignore that sign. It probably is justified. Trust your intuition, which continuously sends you messages and vital information geared to influence your decisions. Your intuition connects you to a greater knowledge that has your best interest at heart. If you start questioning your competency or doubt yourself when you are around your partner, it probably means you should back off. No one should make you feel inadequate or worthless. Heed your internal antenna and move on.

# Happiness comes from within

Realize that your happiness does not depend on a relationship, but rather comes from within. Happiness is not a destination. You can experience happiness in each and every moment. There is no way to actually find happiness. Happiness is a choice we make along the winding road of life. If you keep postponing your happiness, you will lose the ability to appreciate what’s right before you. Remember, happiness is a choice–the continual acceptance and enjoyment of what you have, right now.

If she is feeling bad when around her partner more often than feeling good, an empowered woman knows it’s time to end that relationship. When she loses her self-esteem, if her partner makes no attempt to help her feel better, it’s time to move on. When she starts to remember the good times from past relationships and can only focus on the bad times in this relationship, it’s time to say bye-bye.

Gail is learning that what she wants and needs is very important. She is no longer trying to please everyone and is able to share her time between her children, girlfriends, and boyfriend. She understands that she has choices. She has the right to do what pleases her the most. As an empowered woman she knows that’s okay. Gail is feeling more secure within herself and is realizing that healthy relationships are all about maintaining a satisfactory balance.

This article is an excerpt from Amy Sherman and Rosalind Sedacca’s book: 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50, & Yes, 60! and has been published with permission.

About the authors

Amy-Sherman

Amy Sherman, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida, with a master’s degree in Counseling/Psychology from Vermont College.

She has over 13 years experience in the field and has worked with adolescent substance abusers, abused men, women and children, patients with severe mental illness and the elderly. She is an educator, a seminar/workshop leader and a group facilitator, and offers programs and trainings around Palm Beach County, FL to numerous professional, spiritual and civic organizations.

Amy’s newest book, co-authored with her sister, Rosalind Sedacca CCT, is titled: 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50, & Yes, 60!  This easy-to-read guide is packed with wisdom for women who are moving on and ready to create a loving, lasting and fulfilling relationship in the years ahead.

Rosalind-Sedacca

Rosalind Sedacca is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of the professionally acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love!  This unique ebook doesn’t just tell you what to say, it provides age-appropriate, customizable templates that say it for you!

As a Certified Corporate Trainer, international speaker and workshop facilitator, Rosalind provides live programs and teleseminars on Child-Centered Divorce as well as interpersonal relationship skills. She is regularly invited to share her expertise on TV and radio programs across North America and has been featured in many newspaper and magazine articles on topics related to divorce, parenting and dating.

Visit www.womendatingafter40.com to know more.




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