In honour of International Women's Day, we chatted with our go-to wellness guru, Tarikura Kapea on how she defines empowerment, tips on maintaining a strong sense of self and her empowerment journey.
How do you define empowerment?
Empowerment is the courage to light our inner fire, to make choices from a place of deep self-belief. The piece of us that can not be taken. It is knowing that you are completely enough just as you are. To hear the beat of your own drum and have the courage to walk through this world with that rhythm.
The freedom to overcome cultural or societal conditioning, staying true to oneself and in alignment with your personal compass.
Has your definition of empowerment evolved in any way over the last few years?
Absolutely, like all things humans evolve constantly, so too has my relationship to the concept of empowerment. In my early 20s, I played the role that was heavily projected onto me. I'm a recovering people pleaser, and really just wanted to make my family proud. I sought gratification and ‘empowerment’ from outside sources - which I know is common in young women.
Two years ago, my life took a dramatic turn, when grief, jealousy and heartbreak became my daily battle. I then realised my empowerment came from forgiveness, a quiet mind, the ability to see my own gifts and to not allow people to sway me from my truth. In addition, I had to become my own cheerleader, my own partner and as cheesy as it sounds, my own best friend - which is one of the most empowering things I could have learnt.
What are the biggest obstacles someone may experience on their journey to seek empowerment?
The conditioning we experience from childhood. We create stories about our lives, our brains create neurological pathways to match these stories. It is extremely difficult to change these pathways.
On a conscious level, we may want to change behaviour that does not serve us, yet our actions betray us, and we fall into what we have ‘always’ done, or react in a way that directly correlates to this (potentially) false story we have told ourselves.
One of the biggest obstacles is having the courage to re-write those stories, firstly through identifying what these ‘stories’ are, then if it serves you in a positive way, Tere are many different forms of healing and support like hypnotherapy, journaling, talk therapy to help change and overcome these harmful beliefs.
What tips would you give to someone feeling disempowered in their professional life?
Communication and boundaries.
~ Communicate to your co-workers and/or your manager about what you need to thrive and what makes you feel disempowered. People can't read your mind, and it’s never safe to assume anything. Have the hard conversations (trust me, they get easier).
~ Set boundaries about other people's expectations of you. It’s ok to monitor and limit who and what has access to you. You can do this in a professional manner, so that all parties are seen and heard, it just takes communication and flexibility.
What tips would you give to someone feeling disempowered in their personal life?
Stillness and quiet. Connect back with your inner self. Take time away from screens and all social media. Take yourself into nature, and get really quiet - and not just for an hour or two, if you have the means, take yourself on an empowerment self retreat (alone if you can) and just sit with yourself. Listen to what your body and heart needs.
Journal out what makes you feel strong, supported and safe, then journal out the things, places and people that make you feel small or unseen. Then do your best to avoid those harsh environments and feed yourself with what makes you feel grounded and supported. Your intuition never lies, you just need to get quite enough and take out all the distractions to listen to your true voice, not the sound of your surroundings, and expectations.
What healthy habits would you recommend establishing to maintain a sense of empowerment in general?
~ Alone time is really important. To process, and gain insight into how my mind and body works. I now know myself so well, that I know exactly what I need in moments of challenge or concern.
~ Building your trust muscles. Make a plan (start with a daily morning or evening routine) and actually stick to it. Your mind will begin to trust that you can follow through with your deepest desires.
~ Healthy mind chatter, create a kind and loving relationship with your inner voice. Hold yourself accountable and when you start to get nasty or mean to yourself, stop - before you get down the vortex of self doubt or self pity.
~Avoid people, places and environments that make you feel small or unheard - in other words, it's ok to say no. (Also, it's fine to unfollow/mute people on social media)
In the wise words of Bob Marley “None but ourselves can free our mind”. Empowerment looks different to everybody, baby steps towards creating a healthy relationship with your thoughts, is a great way to start.