The Positive Masculine ep.25: What Does it Mean to be Empowered?

Empowerment is a state in which you accept that you have the power to choose the outcomes you have in life. This power is not perfect, but it is considerable. This state requires that you accept that many of the bad situations in your life are partially your own doing. It requires giving up excuses that lead to inaction. Most importantly it requires that you are constantly focused on what you can control, rather than looking at what you cannot.

The video includes a basic tool to help you practice an empowered mindset.

3 thoughts on “The Positive Masculine ep.25: What Does it Mean to be Empowered?

  1. Brian, great work, as usual. Couple of things: I struggle with the term “empowerment”. It, and derived terms like “empowerment state” and “empowerment mindset” have such limited fundemental core meaning they become something like Humpty Dumpty said in Alice in Wonderland “When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, neither more nor less”. I don’t know what term to use instead, but I’ve seen situations like this where everyone using a term says “Ah, MY meaning is the only true meaning of (whatever – say empowerment). You meaning is false”. Then, your message is lost in semantics.

    I love your take on the idea of choice as a mechanism. You are realistic – there ARE things you can do, but you need to be aware that there are things you cannot control by your choices. I question the validity of the “there is always a choice” mindset. Or rather, I question the validity of the position “there is always an EFFECTIVE choice”. I’ve sat in a slew of workshops and training courses on assertiveness, management and NLP and this “choice paradigm” is something that always gets trotted out. The idea that 1% of improvment will beat 99% of things going cataclysmically wrong just doesn’t hold water. Sometimes things are like Ambassador Kosh said on Babylon 5 “When the avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote”.

    1. If we simply do some grammatical checking I think we can find some value in giving one meaning credence over another. “Empowerment” broken down into its morphemes becomes em – power – ment or the act of imbuing with power. Let’s assume that we are talking in this context of a Liberalist culture – that is one that believes that human beings are sovereign creatures, and may grant their sovereignty to another, such as a crown or an elected government.

      Because sovereign power is at the core, the ability to make choices for one’s self according to Locke, Rousseau, and most of the other great Liberal philosophers whose works inform our system and culture. Then empowerment must therefore imbue people with the ability to make choices for themselves. In this case, then, a legitimate meaning emerges: one that grants a person the power to choose. Without the right to choose, any other “power” such as the power to feel confident are meaningless if they cannot be exercised through action.

      By definition any choice that would expand government power, or turn a person into a supporter, pawn, or representative of a larger movement whose interests are not solely one’s own, by this definition cannot be said to be granting power. Additionally, anything that creates new laws, and therefore places a person under threat of police violence should them make certain choices also restricts sovereign power. Likewise anything that requires that a portion of the fruits of a person’s labour be taken by force and used in a way they may or may not have chosen, such as by the sort of taxation that funds social programs, also cannot be said to expand a person’s choices. Thus the versions of empowerment that rely on participation in a political movement are, by definition, false.

      As for whether there is a good choice to be had or an effective one – I will take a simple stance, that if nothing else a person always has recourse to choose the act that best will create the reality in which they want to live. However that may not be an effective one. One can always choose to accept punishment, folly, or death if one desires.

      But I would put it to you – if you see nothing but bad choices that take you away from your goals and one choice, that takes you, even in the most miniscule amount, towards a goal – is it not the preferable one? Even if it is in the face of catastrophe? And in the case of things going catastrophically wrong, that is beyond your power to affect, all that is left are what you can.

      Also, remember Kosh was an being of pure, heartless law who was willing to annihilate entire species for the sake of imposing order. He did not believe that beings should have power at all.

  2. Brian,what you are talking about and what “empowerment” is used to mean in a society wider context are very different things. Yours is a goodwell explained working definition of empowerment. Most of the time what you hear is “we will pass laws stopping people doing X, and thus empower people because they won’t have to worry about people doing X”. The word has been usurped and takne away from what you are talking about. The other common context is “I am empowering these people to make decisions/take actions” which usually translates as “I’m setting these people up to carry the can when something goes wrong”.

    Empowerment has almost become a “discredited brand” – there are too many negative associations. Correct or not I wonder if you need a different word?

    “…But I would put it to you – if you see nothing but bad choices that take you away from your goals and one choice, that takes you, even in the most miniscule amount, towards a goal – is it not the preferable one?…”

    Preferable, yes. Effective? No. Maybe it’s the scientist in me, with limited understanding of philosophy, that makes me perceive it that way, but failed is failed is failed. Nearly right is still wrong. Nearly succeeded is still failed. I know Edison failed what was it one thousand or ten thousand times before he succeeded in producing the electric light bulb, but most people don’t get ten chances to fail before they’re out on their ear. So for most people, one step nearer might be right, but will have no tangible, positive effect.

    As for Kosh, no he wasn’t admirable, but in that case I think he was right. When all the big rocks are falling, the options for the pebbles are go along, join in, or follow – a single option over which you have no control.

    Oh and one more thing: how come your youtube vids don’t get more hits? I can’t believe more people aren’t watching your stuff! We need to get the word out!

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