In Google’s annual Year In Search data for 2020, one of the top trending searches caught my attention more than others. It is not one of the top two global searches overall (“coronavirus”), nor Merriam-Webster and Dictionary’s word of the year 2020 (“pandemic”), although both do explain why the trend I am interested in was at the forefront of people’s minds for Google searchers globally. In 2020, “how to change the world” was searched on Google twice as often as “how to go back to normal.” For me, it means that people around the world felt that they could create a better future more than they longed to return to the past. 

With 2020 being a very challenging, turbulent year, we must not overlook that what came out of it seems to be the achievement of critical mass – a moment when there were enough people who not only agreed that the world must become a better place, but who felt more empowered than ever to make that change in their communities, homes, and let’s not forget, in themselves. 

I do want to remind us all of Gandhi’s often quoted statement, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself” but with a little twist. Since we already have data-based evidence that most of us “want to change the world”, I believe that a crucial component of the “start with yourself” part is in that very moment when one feels empowered to do so. Therefore, we must continue to build momentum in feeling empowered to change the world, and to that end, we need to encourage self-empowerment.

While I often appreciate saying that I feel empowered, the word always reminds me that whatever the tool or the lesson that I have chosen to empower myself with is not within but lies outside of me. Therefore, in order to keep myself fully accountable for my own personal development, I prefer to self-empower, and here is why. 

I used to be a woman who would want to curl and stay beneath the bedsheets all day, because I did not want to face another day of challenges that I felt were above my ability to resolve or handle. Staying there was safe, I could continue my self-pitying and feeling like a victim. No one would know or see my helpless limp body, always so tightly tensed because of the constant holding of all my muscles, starting from jaw down to shoulders and all the way to my stiff calves, which used to cramp and wake me up in the middle of the night – as if a sharp knife had just cut into them. 

In order to heal and start living the life that I was meant to live, I tried everything I could – from reworking my thoughts using coaching sessions, to THE WORK by Byron Katie, to esoteric pursuits in the form of energy healing, crystal healing, yoga or transformational breathing, to neuro biofeedback, the most scientific type of therapy that I have tried. All of this is in addition to reading tons of self-help books that seemed to make perfect sense, however, although I had always been a passionate learner, implementing what I had learned in this sphere was seldom the case. 

On this path, I have been fortunate to meet many inspirational people, from achievers in business to everyday pacemakers who I could not stop watching and emulating. Byron Katie and her exceptional husband Stephen Mitchell are at the very top of my list, since by just observing their behaviour during our workshops or personal dinners, I would relax and savour the moment. Alas, as soon as they went away, I would be back to my old self again. 

I craved a quick fix instead of staying with any one process long enough in order to finally succeed in changing my behaviour. 

That was my downfall. 

There is a common question for all seeking to find Peace with their internal context or external environment, or both, and to resolve whatever may have caused them to seek help in the first place – regardless of whether they have chosen to work with a therapist, a coach, a counsellor, or to undertake any other type of treatment. 

”How long will it take?”

For me too, time was always a priority and “getting there” was the end goal. 

Yet, it should have never been about how much I could change in a week, a month, or a year. 

It should have been about realizing that I had to crawl before I walked, as well as that crawling and walking preceded running. 

It also should have been about learning to be gentle and forgiving of myself, to start with small acts of self-love until they became my second nature. 

Nowadays, I still get to hear that horrible voice in my head, but I am now able to easily catch it, smile at my internal naughtiness, and return to the encourager and self-loving personality. 

Achieving this takes persistence, patience, and knowing that I never meant to be mean to myself, but that I am learning how to be 100% compassionate with Intisar.

Achieving this also takes having regular reminders to stay on course, or how I like to call them, having daily self-empowerment tools. 

While I cannot stress enough the importance of receiving professional help for anyone seeking to transition from inadequate to efficient ways of coping with life – regardless of how long it might actually take – I feel that being empowered by the wisdom, guidance, and support of others is quite different from what I call self-empowering on a daily basis.

Self-empowerment should go hand-in-hand with any therapy, treatment, or practice which you have chosen for yourself at any point in time. And, it also should continue during your lifetime. 

Here are two ways in which I self-empower daily: 

1. Words
As you might have already noticed, I choose my words carefully. A lot has been have about the power of environmental triggers for accomplishing your goals- from sneakers right next to your bed, stalks of celery on your kitchen counter, to a note on your mirror. Now, do consider which words you have written down on that note, because words move mountains, change lives, make us who we are or who we want to be. Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto found that human words can have an impact on the molecular structure of water. It does make a difference if you think or say “love” and “thank you”, or “hate” and “ugly”.

2. Positivity
Studies have shown that just by looking at smiling faces for 20 minutes can help you adopt a brighter attitude to life. I make a constant effort to notice the beauty and positivity in anything and everything. It could be a wilted flower or even the splendor of a sandstorm, a common occurrence in my beloved Kuwait. In intentionally looking for beauty around me, I keep on realising the beauty within myself. 

How are you self-empowering today?