Back in 2014 I worked with a wonderful group of women who are taking action in their lives to gain a qualification and hopefully paid work. While working through the various content we discussed the concept of empowerment and the challenge of rescuing.
Though we studied the drama and empowerment triangle, in terms of a support worker role, only days before, it came to light that most were still finding it hard not to do things for family and friends, potentially at the expense of themselves. They were still rescuing others as they felt they would be viewed poorly, or that others would become upset or angry at them for saying no. In their personal lives they did not have a job description giving them permission to say 'no.'
They acknowledged that the long term consequences of saying 'yes' were not ones they wanted for themselves or those family and friends they were supporting.
We completed a burn out questionnaire and some were surprised to find that they were close to burn out. They were so busy doing what needed to be done for everyone else, they had forgotten to look at their own requirements. Burn out is real, and when we do not give ourselves permission to stop to assess our situation we can end up being of no help to ourselves or others. Stopping and looking at the situation from outside, fully considering the long term consequences of our actions can enlighten us to the disempowering and detrimental nature of our actions.
One lady found it hard to find time for herself, she 'had to' redo her children's beds every morning (because they were not to her standard), do 'all' the cooking (she wanted to be in control), look after everyone else (well who else would do it?) I challenged her to explain why she felt this way and asked her how she would feel if the children came and remade her bed, their way, straight after she had spent time and energy doing it her way?
I asked her what motivation her children had to learn to improve their bed making skills?
She admitted that there was little to no motivation to learn and that doing what she was doing was never going to achieve what she really wanted. She identified that there were others in the house who could step up and that she was putting a lot of the stress and pressure on herself. I gave her permission to go out, to take herself away from the situation, to switch off and take some exercise.
Taking time for ourselves can be a challenge but the first step is to acknowledge the problem, and to give yourself permission to solve it.
Another lady felt she had to take calls, even when they were not at a good time for her. I asked how she would feel if told nicely that 'now was not a good time.' She acknowledged that she would respect that so I gave her permission to allow others to show the same respect to her.
When others have a problem they will always go for the quickest and easiest solution, this can prevent them from engaging their own brains. By not providing them with an answer straight away we can give them time to process their own problems, helping to increase their emotional literacy. The easy option is not always the best.
Empowerment seems hard to put into action but recognising the benefits and gaining permission is the first step.
Who gives you permission to help others learn about and look after themselves? I do, and hopefully you do to!