Empowerment: The new four-letter word

Dec 15, 2015

Why Empowerment is the New Four-Letter Word | www.nalumana.com

Since having started a business with women’s empowerment as the undercurrent thrumming steadily through everything I do and everything I offer, I seem to be noticing and attracting a lot of other businesses, individuals and organizations who also have the same interests at heart.

But rather than being thrilled about this, I find much of it slightly disconcerting. 

Gradually, empowerment seems to have become my new four-letter word.


You see, in many (most?) of the contexts in which it is mentioned, empowerment seems to take the form of an action completed by one person for, on, or to another.

I want to empower women to make better food choices.

I want to empower you to speak up for yourself at work.

I want to empower people to get what they want out of their relationships.

The way the word is used by so many implies that we must rely on others for empowerment.  In fact, when “empowerment” is dissected and defined, it means to give or bestow power on another.

I’d like to think that empowerment should be more about finding your own power, rather than having it given to you by a well-meaning coach, doula, friend, nutritionist, or anyone else, for that matter.


I believe empowerment happens when people are shown the areas of their life in which they are strongly using their power, or how to put themselves in situations that draw out their inner strength.  I believe empowerment can be facilitated, nurtured and supported by another person, but is ultimately about the work that each of us, as individuals, have to do in our own lives to clearly see and understand our strengths, to believe in ourselves, to confidently take risks and to deeply own and accept who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

Your turn:


Do you find the word “empowerment” empowering?  Does it mean anything to you?

When have you felt empowered?

Has anyone ever helped you to feel empowered?

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!