Under pressure

There’s a lot of pressure on us women these days to be empowered and confident. Despite a reality where many of us often feel disempowered, and societal standards and media do everything in their power to keep us from feeling content with ourselves the way we are. It’s so easy to feel like we’re doing something wrong if we’re not walking around as the embodiment of an empowered woman. 

Figuring out how to go about being a self-confident woman today kind of feels like a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. And more than that, it feels like a nagging to-do.

So I say f*ck appearances and external expectations. What it means to be self-empowered looks different for every woman, and the ways to get there are just as varied. The goal is simply to like yourself, without conditions, and have an attitude that’s open to growth.

how to trigger self-empowerment and growth

A desire for control

Ultimately, we all want to feel like we have some control over our own destinies. But it’s no fun to feel stressed or harried over it. As a slightly anxious person, I’m plenty familiar with how frustrating it is to want control over everything only to know that life doesn’t work that way. 

But self-empowered people have one advantage when it comes to controlling their lives: They have the confidence to set goals and the self-knowledge to follow through on achieving them. They have the tools to grow.

I think one of the easiest ways to become more self-empowered is to actively seek out experiences that make you feel like saying YES.

how to trigger self-empowerment and growth

Sometimes the fates align and experiences fall into our laps at the right time. But more often, they don’t. Instead, you have to put in some effort. You have to make deliberate choices.

Opting into experiences

I can think of two experiences I actively chose recently that led to a lot of personal growth and as a result, feeling more self-empowered. The most recent one was a meditation retreat in Mexico last month. It was an opportunity that sort of floated my way via friends who had already planned to go. But as it was happening over my birthday, it felt like a special opportunity with a lot of yes around it. So I went, and it turned out to be a hugely spiritual experience where I was able to get unstuck in some important ways that I didn’t fully realize I was stuck in to begin with. I came home feeling like a lighter, more powerful version of myself. 

It’s worth noting that the retreat wasn’t always lovely or enjoyable. It was really uncomfortable a lot of the time, actually. I cried a lot, I felt sick… but I had committed to the experience. And so I got to reap all of the benefits.

The time before was during my trip to Italy last year where I attended a photography conference. I’d reached out to one of the presenters months before to ask if she’d photograph me while we were there. An experience I wouldn’t have sought out when the time for it actually came. I just wasn’t in the mood. The presenter was a well-known photographer with a no-editing, body-positive approach. Every wrinkle, blemish, and “imperfection” gets left in… to be very honest, I didn’t think I was going to like my images.

But as I’d already committed to the experience… 

boudoir model

I’ll admit, seeing some of those very raw and vulnerable photos of myself from that shoot (like the one immediately above) was uncomfortable and momentarily challenging to accept. I had to sit with them for a while. But ultimately I did accept those images. I was able to smile at them and genuinely like them. And many turned out to be some of my favorite images of myself of all time.

It was an exercise in growing my self-love and learning to embrace myself on a new level. All of it triggered by that experience I’d signed myself up for by emailing this photographer months in advance to beg for the chance to work with her. 

Pay attention to the YES

A third experience where I intentionally opted into it simply because it seemed fun and important and I just felt this overwhelming YES about it was my very first boudoir shoot, which I’ve shared about before and have it to thank for my career shift years ago. 

I do believe that it can be that simple. That to grow as a person, and to grow our ability to love and accept ourselves as we are – it can all be triggered by the simple decision to opt into a ‘YES’ experience. Whether it’s an art class or exercise class, a luxury boudoir photoshoot, that date, that program, that trip, that new opportunity… whatever it might be, it just boils down to a commitment to seek out experiences every now and then that make you want to say yes

It doesn’t have to be every single day, but keep them somewhat regular. They never fail to serve up huge amounts of confidence, self-empowerment, and growth.

xo, Cynthia

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