Empowerment means being at cause: that is, we determine the direction of our lives. We are responsible for our existence. We are in control. When we are responsible for something, it is we who have to explain why it is, as it is. After all, we have exercised our power to change and create - and to begin and to end.
So we are the person responsible for what is good and what is bad in our life situation. Here lies the crux. With responsibility comes the possibility of blame and then shame. If all goes well, we are praised - but if not, we are the one who may be blamed. It is then "our fault" and we may feel shame. As our failures and wrong-doings increase, so does our pain and guilt and shame. Is it surprising that many have relinquished their power, given up control and responsibility, in many aspects of their lives - to hide safely at effect rather than express themselves at cause? In truth, you are the creator of your own life. Yet you can pretend to be at effect: to be disempowered.
If we yield our power of choice we no longer control our own life. Someone else controls it for us. We no longer have the power to change our situation for the better - but also we no longer can be blamed. We sometimes invest a lot in being at effect in this way and don't give it up easily. It can assuage our guilt and hide our true failures. It's a safe solution to our problems.
Unfortunately it's not the best solution. By being a victim, we try to escape the burden of responsibility but then have to accept the pain of losing our freedom. We refuse to choose, and have others choose for us. We refuse to control and allow others to control us. We do not accept our power, and give it to others. We do such a good job at this that we believe we have no real say in our lives. Our pain is their responsibility. It is their fault. Yet by doing this we deprive ourselves of so much pleasure and fun in life.
To reverse this situation it is necessary to recognize we are responsible for our choices that bring about our present and future conditions - how we are already causing our situation. Then we are empowered and we can choose again!
Why did we give our power away? The fact is that we never did give it away. We are always making choices. Even choosing not to choose. We always choose what we interpret to be the best option that we have available. We are always at cause.
When we choose to (pretend to) be effect, it is because the problems of responsibility appear greater than all the trouble that comes from being at effect. For example, being beaten by a drunken husband seems preferable to the alternatives of remedying his behavior or starting a new independent life.
There must be something of value that the person is finding in the current arrangement of being at effect. Maybe
- having somebody tell you what to do provides safety;
- being on drugs provides peace;
- having somebody scream at you every day helps you to feel something;
- being with an alcoholic ensures uncritical company.
We really wouldn't be in that sort of situation unless the apparent advantages outweighed the drawbacks.
Also, the idea of being responsible for our actions, our feelings and our beliefs may be uncomfortable. Our interpretation of past negative experiences may maintain it is dangerous to recover our own ability to choose. Most likely we have tried things in the past that failed and led to us feeling upset, so now we refuse to take that kind of responsibility, to express our true selves.
Where we go wrong is in the interpretation. What seems to be safe is not necessarily in our best interest. If I don't try for promotion, I won't be disappointed by rejection - but I'll have to continue at the same old job that is not fulfilling any more. So the fear of rejection is more powerful in this case than our desire for a better job. We pick the apparently safe position of being effect. Sadly, we have chosen misery rather than challenge and delight!
You can reclaim your power if you can recognize that you are the cause of your life. That you have made choices and continue to live by them, and therefore you have the power to choose again and create the world you want. To do this you need to become conscious of your fears and the way they influence your choices. Fear is a strong and painful emotion so we try to suppress it from our consciousness, but it continues to act subconsciously, limiting our choices within the safe boundaries that do not trigger the fear.
How can I accept a fear and transcend it? I think a good way is to realize that fear is a two-sided coin. The other side of the coin is love, the positive dynamic in our life for truth and freedom. Love is about acceptance, fear is about resistance. Our fears can help us to become aware of the expression of love that may be missing in our life - because our choices are being hidden alongside our fears under the floorboards of our consciousness.
So begin to accept your fears instead of hiding them away, recognize that each fear is based on a judgment that just isn't necessary, and delight as the flower of your true self begins to bloom.