Taking control of your life
The general meaning of self-empowerment is taking control of our own life, setting goals and making positive choices. In short, it means we have to understand our strengths and weaknesses, and believe in ourselves.
For me, self-empowerment is standing up for my beliefs, and taking action around those beliefs. It comes from being hungry for success, hungry to achieve more in life, hungry to do the right thing, and hungry to overcome any challenges or limiting beliefs that might creep in.
Confidence and self-empowerment are bed-mates, but which comes first? Does having confidence help build self-empowerment, or does self-empowerment make us confident?
Throughout my first marriage, I barely made any independent decisions. I was expected to walk in the shadow of my very successful husband. However, in 1986, I was diagnosed with MS. I had been an international athlete in my younger days so I decided to take up sport again to ward off some of the symptoms. I also decided to do a second degree to help stave off any cognitive decline.
The more I did, the more I wanted to do. I competed at a very high level, winning the British and European masters championships in swimming and coming third in the British and European masters modern triathlon. I then went on to complete a PhD in 1997. I had taken control of my life. By 2001, my marriage was over. I had committed the ultimate sin. I was empowered. I was successful and I had the ability to become financially independent. He got a girlfriend and later got his own PhD (but he wasn’t jealous!!)
Empowerment is self-belief
In 1998, I got my first full-time job since having children – which was 20 years prior! I found ambition. I sought out the only female senior manager in the University and asked what I had to do to get where she was. I think she was a bit taken aback by this very mature but very junior lecturer asking how to get a promotion within a month of starting. She gave me a list – as long as my arm – of the publications I needed to get, committees I needed to sit on, awards I needed to apply for.
One by one, I ticked off the list and by 2003, I was head-hunted to take on a senior manager’s role at a new university. I must have come across as being more confident than I felt, as I’d had no management experience. However, I’d just won a massive award for self-development as well as completed a round-the-world lecture tour, travelling by myself for a month for the first time ever. I also pursued an MBA and a life coaching qualification.
Now 20 years later, I am planning retirement to become a full-time divorce coach. Over the years I have done a number of coaching qualifications in NLP, health and wellness, Harmonizing, Passion Mapping and Certified Divorce Coaching.
My belief in myself has paid off. I am now fulfilled and looking forward to being able to help more women through their divorce journey.
Self-Empowerment is Confidence
I found out about my husband’s affair on millennium’s eve, 31st December 1999. Fireworks were going off but my husband was nowhere to be found. We were at a party with 5 other couples. At 11pm my husband said his pager had gone off. He was ‘on call’. He disappeared and didn’t return until 2 am, by which time I’d had far too much to drink. I found out much later on he’d been at his girlfriend’s house, celebrating the turn of the millennium with her. At first, I’d made all sorts of excuses but, bit by bit, my confidence was growing and I realised that I did not want to face being humiliated any longer. By Christmas the following year I asked him to leave and filed for divorce in January 2001.
Seeing fireworks now gives me mixed emotions. Sadness for the fact that he didn’t have the belief in me that I had in myself, and pride that I have achieved so much. If I can find the strength to make changes in my life the way I did then anyone can. I made lots of mistakes along the way but I learned from them. I have no regrets. I feel great gratitude that I was set free to find the strong woman that always lay underneath the façade of being a wife to a man whose ego was too fragile to celebrate the successes of his wife. I am now re-married to a man who actively encourages me to ‘go for it’. I’m happier than I’ve been in years, and will never walk in anyone’s shadow again.
My destiny now is to empower other women to find their true self. To take control. To find their self-belief and self-confidence to achieve their dreams and be who they want to be.
This, for me, is the main role of a coach. To help empower, build confidence and self-belief in the clients so that they can set off fireworks to celebrate their success.