For the longest time, I looked to men to understand what it meant to be powerful. More specifically, I did my best to mirror my father.
Meanwhile, underneath the heavy armor of what I thought it meant to be being strong, independent, and in-control was a dying soft feminine creature begging to bloom and come out. I suffocated my feminine because I was ashamed of it. I saw it as vulnerability, and that vulnerability as weakness.
Slowly I’ve found healing and new perspective on what it means to be an empowered woman. I discovered that when a woman is empowered, she melts the old model of what power means, and creates a new paradigm, resulting in a shift from the idea of power as brute force to a magnetic force of beauty and love.
The five characteristics below have been what I discovered so far as to what it means for a woman to be empowered.
1. She knows.
I’m learning to trust my intuition and the voice of my body as more legitimate than anything my chaotic mind has to say. My body never lies to me. I am strengthening an inner source of knowing. This inner knowing is symbolized by the archetype of the High Priestess in Tarot as the deep knowledge of the Divine Feminine. It is often perceived as dark, mysterious, and hidden behind a veil.
The veil is the invisible boundary between our world and the spiritual world.
An empowered woman has access to this knowing. Her voice is strong, assured, and clear. It is direct and unwavering. She doesn’t look for the reassurance of others, or get lost in her head over the right thing to say. She doesn’t abandon her voice to fit into the cultural expectations. When she speaks, it seems as though the room is being pierced with her truth, and she trusts herself.
When she withholds her truth, she begins to feel smaller and creates her own bondage of oppression. It is one of the most common ways we unknowingly disempower ourselves. It if for this reason an empowered woman knows it is crucial that she speaks her truth in every moment.
2. She receives pleasure.
I once wore a good girl mask as a form of survival. This mask was an adapted behavior meant to ensure I would get my needs met, I would belong, and I wouldn’t threaten the fragile and hurtful egos of others.
Now I know, an empowered woman drops the act of being a good girl. She is no longer considered with mere surviving, and she is ready to thrive. She is ready to unleash the untamable wild beast that rages within her. She is ready to soak in pleasure as fuel for power. Which means she carries no shame for her sexuality. She doesn’t petty over her pussy being loose — or however many men, or women, she has fucked.
Her inner whore is sacred, and possesses healing powers. An empowered woman acknowledges that her body is her own. No government or social and cultural conditioning could ever tamper down her sexual appetite. No matter what shape or size her body, she flaunts and peacocks her physical form — finding pride in the skin she is in. She not only embraces, but also deeply loves the imperfections of her perfect god-designed body.
3. She finds power through surrendering.
Unfortunately, giving a theory of surrender will be of little use, since it cannot be learned, instead only experienced for oneself. So alternatively, here is a short snapshot of a visceral feeling of surrender I had recently.
I was gripped with anger and pain. I felt cold, shut-off, and aggressive. I knew my words felt harsh and mean, but it seemed I couldn’t find the right things to say. I stared down my boyfriend sitting across from me. Everything I said felt like another jab, another painful accusation. The conversation was getting nowhere. I scanned my brain for what to do. I took a deep breath, feeling into my body.
I acknowledged my inner little girl who carries past pain of abandonment, and now does her best to fiercely protect herself. I felt into the fear, the clashing emotions, and the deep-seated insecurity at the root of it all.
I let go of whatever I was trying to force, manipulate, of the agenda I had in the argument. I dropped the hard act. I became a tender ball of tears, and surrendered to what I was feeling. I allowed reality to wash over me as I muttered, “The truth is, I just feel so scared right now…” I breathed into and released the tension in the sensations I had been afraid to feel.
By expressing what had felt so far-off and impossible just 10 minutes prior, I found myself in a liberating space of clarity. I had experienced surrender.
This is where a woman’s power lies — in her vulnerability, truth, and her ability to surrender.
4. She believes in magic.
Actually, let me rephrase, she is magic. In fact, I have come to realize that those parts I was once the most ashamed about are the most magical parts about myself. I no longer feel the need to justify my deeply sensitive, empathetic, nature or deny my psychic abilities— I take ownership over my magical attributes. Synchronicity and flow are my new homeostasis as a result of being in alignment with my soul’s nature.
My heart now beats with the drums of the medicine woman. My soul recharges with the raw energy of the moonlight. I am free to surf the underworld and the invisible realms of the subconscious.
An empowered woman makes her home in the more primal state, that which is wild and unrefined. For her, magic isn’t silly child’s play. It is an initiation into her womanhood. She holds a deep and powerful understanding of the laws of nature and how to work with them. She brims with love, compassion, and imagination, and serves as a creative muse for those she connects with.
She is tapped into communication with spiritual forces, and feels unity with all living creatures. Her magic is a wave of permission for others to be free in being themselves. She is simply a woman.
5. She empowers other women.
I had a friend boldly say once, “Men don’t oppress women — women oppress women.” I now know that my personal growth depends on the growth of the women surrounding me. It is imperative that I pass down whatever I learn to those around me. My former game of cutthroat competition and jealousy only left me starving for friendship and love.
An empowered woman comes from a place of abundance as opposed to scarcity. She helps others succeed because her core self is not threatened by the power of other women. She forms a tribe with a sisterhood of other goddesses who have her back. She drops the catty games of immature girls. How far do we keep allowing the poison of envy to choke out the connection and intimacy we crave between women?
As a coach, I have never had a female client who didn’t desire the closeness and community of other females. The intimate web of connection between women becomes a generator of empowerment for all other women.
What if you aren’t feeling particularly empowered in this moment? What if some of things I said bewildered you instead of affirmed you?
That is okay. Being empowered is a journey, and there is no such thing as reaching a place of perfection. There will be times when we feel magic isn’t real and we have mistaken our sensitive nature as weakness — or we feel lost, disengaged from our sexual desires, and constantly seeking reassurance. We embrace the ride because it is in those moments of pain and disbelief that we are initiated into our power.
Your heart is the only prerequisite to being empowered, and all women are on this journey together. Think of this list as a working document subject to change and expansion, and your voice is what is missing.