Originally published in San Diego Woman Magazine, Spring 2019 (page 30) and on www.drcoxconsulting.com.

Did you know that feeling disempowered is just the flipside of the coin of feeling empowered? If you never felt disempowered, you would not know or understand what empowered felt like. One cannot exist without the other. Weirdly, I like to think of disempowerment as a hidden gift. It is a sneaky gift though, because it feels unpleasant and leaves you feeling vulnerable and powerless. But, you’re not actually powerless. When you feel disempowered, it’s actually teaching you how to access your power.

My sneaky gift of disempowerment came early. I was born a preemie at 28 weeks gestation in the 60s, before they could rescue preemies. Somehow I miraculously survived. My parents were told by the doctors that even though I had survived my first few months of life, I’d be paralyzed and a “vegetable“– their words, not mine. (Hey, this was before a PC language came into vogue.) So, everyone thought I’d be the epitome of disempowered as a woman. But, not only did I survive… I thrived as a child.

Of course, the Universe wasn’t content giving me just one struggle. It wanted to challenge me often to make sure I became a strong, empowered, confident woman. Not only was I born premature, I was born into a Navy family. My father was a Navy pilot and my mother was a Southern Belle. Being in a military family, we moved around a lot, almost every year.  Through all this, my parents ended up divorcing, so I was raised by a single mom. As was common for single moms during that time, my family struggled financially. Many times, we had to scrounge around for loose change in the sofa to pay for food that week, depending on how finances were. Despite the struggle (maybe even because of it), I was motivated to overcome poverty and better myself. I taught myself to access a state of self-empowerment rather than wallow in a state of disempowerment. I overcame physical challenges. I put myself through college and graduate school. I worked for the Department of Defense. Eventually, I wrote a book to distill what I learned in my journey to help women flip the switch from disempowered to empowered.

When we as women feel empowered, which I believe is an innate inborn state, we align with our personal values more readily and we connect with a sense of purpose. When we learn to align with our highest values and live with purpose, we enjoy life. Sometimes, when we take on certain roles or go through certain experiences, we lose a certain sense of individuality and accidently disconnect from our values – leaving us feeling disconnected, isolated or invisible. How did I or anyone overcome these feelings of disempowerment and flip the switch? How do we more often feel our power and be seen? If I were to boil it down, the main piece is a process of reminding yourself that you matter.

I suggest saying that phrase to yourself before you go to bed at night: “You matter”. Notice how it feels when you say that phrase, maybe even notice where you feel it your body. Maybe you feel it in your resonating in your heart, maybe you notice it resonating in your head, maybe you notice it somewhere else. Maybe you just notice the sensation as it comes out of your mouth. Whatever you notice is good. Just notice you matter.

Surround yourself with people who resonate with that message and reflect it back to you. This helps connect you more with that feeling of mattering and shows you what you value and what matters to you internally. It helps you dislodge unspoken societal messages that say otherwise. There are many more things you can do to make that empowered shift. Take the first step forward to a small action. I hope my story inspires you to step into your place of power and own your power. Release disempowerment. Release any negative messages inside your head that say you don’t matter. Release these in order to embrace your power to be seen and valued for those unique talents that you bring to our world.

Looking to unlock and unleash your innate feminine power? Check out The Muse Process, my new book that teaches women how to shift their mindsets – both on a collective unconscious level and the conscious level – to reignite their state of power and visibility for success and fulfillment at work and at home. Learn more at www.drbarbaracox.com.


  • Barbara Cox, PhD

    Holistic Psychologist, Leadership Coach, and Business Consultant. Author of The Muse Process.

    Dr. Barbara Cox is a holistic psychologist, leadership coach, and business consultant. She started her career as a scientist, having earned a BA in Biology from the University of California, San Diego and working for the Department of Defense and top environmental consulting firms. Barbara went on to receive a PhD in Health Psychology from Alliant International University (AIU), with further training in hypnosis and peak performance coaching. Eventually, she ventured forth to study more transcendent subjects and to look at the larger meaning of life, beyond left-brained science. Barbara is on a mission to transform corporate cultures by helping leaders activate their intuition and establish a balance of the masculine energy (competition, individualism, and productivity) and feminine energy (collaboration, creativity, and vulnerability) within organizations. Barbara is the author of the forthcoming book, The Muse Process: Unleashing the Power of the Feminine for Success and FulfillmentLearn more about Barbara’s work at www.drcoxconsulting.com.