Whether you’re currently in a relationship or you’re intending to be in one in the future, it is highly beneficial to consider who you are as a person and what you bring to the table. Are you a spiritually awake, mentally stable, emotionally intelligent individual who can stand on your own, or do you look to your partner to complete you? It’s a fair question, and one that you may not think about before jumping into a relationship.
What Is Empowerment?
Empowerment in a relationship is crucial for both individuals and for the relationship itself, as a separate entity. But first, let’s consider what the word empowerment means.
First of all, words don’t have any inherent meaning other than the meaning you assign to them. Yes, there is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary to reference for a general definition—and let’s face it, what empowerment means to you might be somewhat (or completely) different than what it means to others. Not to mention that definitions of words change over time based on what’s trending at the moment. When I looked up Merriam-Webster’s empowerment definition before writing this article, I found it to read somewhat archaic—as if the definition itself had been frozen in time, a long time ago: “The act or action of empowering someone or something; the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties.”
Today, the word empowerment is one of the most widely used in the field of personal growth. You can find an endless assortment of self-help books on the topic and a vast array of retreats, workshops, TED talks, and in-depth corporate trainings on personal and professional empowerment. In doing a quick social media poll, it appears that empowerment, for many people, largely represents the following:
- A sense of self-confidence
- Congruence in who you are as a person
- Harmony between being self-sufficient and actively participating in the giving and receiving in relationships
One woman shared that empowerment means having the freedom to make the choices that are right for her, that are aligned with who she is at the deepest level, and that are congruent with her path in life. Several women also shared that empowerment, for them, means helping others see the potential and possibility that exists within themselves and to step into the highest version of who they are meant to be. One man wrote that empowerment, for him, is seeing the greatness in himself and in others, and evoking that into a shared reality. For another, it means loving themselves unconditionally, and then loving others in the same way.
To sum it up, it seems a fair amount of people share similar ideas of what empowerment means to them in today’s society. That being said, let’s now look at the importance of empowerment within a relationship.
Empowerment in a Relationship
Let’s start by considering how you approach having your needs met in relationship (or any context, for that matter). Once your basic survival needs for food and shelter have been met, the majority of people have four basic needs for attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance. (Again, it’s important to know what each of these words mean to you.) You may have been taught from a young age to seek the fulfillment of these needs through other people, so it’s become second nature for you to have become reliant upon this strategy as a means of feeling whole or complete. This worked out well when you were a child because that’s the way society has been constructed. Yet, somewhere along the line, you were meant to learn how to become self-sufficient, to learn how to meet your own needs from within, and become the person you’re meant to be. If you never adopted a strategy for personal empowerment, you may have a tendency to project that responsibility onto your partner.
There is an interesting psychological pattern that some people run when they’re attempting to fulfill an internal unmet need. I’ll use a real example of a client who entered into a relationship with someone who was more successful than she was as a means to fulfill her own unmet need for success. The client ended up marrying a brilliant doctor who was highly sought after and who operated an extremely lucrative business. His level of success made her feel good about herself, and she was content in the relationship because he fulfilled this need for her. Interestingly, several years later, she decided to go back to school to become a doctor herself. Once she received her doctorate, she no longer needed to draw upon her husband’s success as a way to define her own. She had now met her own need from within. Sadly, she ended up leaving the marriage. Without being consciously aware of it, her marriage served to fulfill a need and when she was able to stand on her own, totally empowered, she no longer needed him for her happiness. This is an example of a scenario that plays out more often than you may realize.
Now, it’s not to say that when one person in the relationship becomes empowered it will tank the relationship. The point is that you have your own set of internal needs, and when you rely solely upon another to meet those needs, it leaves you feeling less than in some way, and it also puts an incredible amount of psychic pressure on the other person. When you go unconscious in your relationships and lean on your partner to fill a void within you and empower you, it will eventually take its toll on the relationship, if not destroy it entirely. That being said, it is 100 percent possible to become empowered in an existing relationship and, in fact, more and more people are taking the necessary steps to do just that. People of all ages and all walks of life are waking up to an inner voice that is calling them to be the very best version of themselves they can be and then calling in an intimate partner who can stand next to them as their equal.
Empowerment in a relationship is when two people who come together are able to stand strong in knowing who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, and what they bring to the table. These empowered people don’t need each other to feel complete and yet they want each other because the two create something magical, beautiful, and exciting—together.
Following are five points to get you on the path to being totally empowered in your relationship.
1. Remember Why You Fell in Love with Your Current or Past Partner
What were the qualities and characteristics that attracted you to them? What did you most respect about them? Look inside. Do you have those same qualities within you? Are they in balance or out of balance?
2. Strive to Improve Yourself Spiritually, Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically Every Day
Personal growth can make you feel more awake and more alive, and is the path to experiencing your own sense of personal empowerment. Read a book, take a class, go on a retreat, or better yet, hire a coach! Achieving happiness must first come within.
3. Acknowledge the Unique Talents, Special Gifts, and Attributes Your Partner Brings to the Relationship
Allow one another the space to be yourselves and encourage one another to improve and evolve into better people (providing both partners have agreed this is acceptable within the relationship). Respect and acknowledge the strengths that your partner brings to the relationship.
4. Practice Open, Heart-Centered, and Conscious Communication within the Relationship
Be willing to be vulnerable; share your needs with one another and ask how you can best support your partner in meeting those needs. Strong communication can leave both individuals in the relationship feeling empowered.
5. Set and Enforce Boundaries from a Place of Love
Many people struggle with boundaries out of fear of hurting the other person or upsetting the relationship in some way. When shared lovingly, your boundaries are a means for setting your intimate partner up for success in the relationship.
At the end of the day, you want to be the best version of yourself as possible, and you want to surround yourself with happy, healthy people who are on the same path towards their goals. Always remember that change comes from within and that which you seek, you already are. Sometimes you just need to work a bit at scrubbing the layers of conditioning away so you can reveal who you truly are at the core of your being. That is the version of you your partner deserves to stand beside and move through life together with.
Take your happiness into your own hands and become the person you’ve always dreamed of being with The Quest: Spiritual Solutions for Creating a Life You Love, our online course led by Deepak Chopra and Martha Beck. Learn More.