Change. Constant change can be draining. The continuous need to adjust, adapt and reinvent ways of being, ways of seeing and ways of doing. Everyday.
21st century lives move quickly and it can sometimes feel like there is little opportunity to perfect, reflect or even appreciate what we have achieved for ourselves, for others.
In this context of change one of the key issues that keeps being mentioned as a goal both personally and professionally is empowerment. But what do we mean by this? Certainly in the health and social care fields in which I reside professionally, empowerment is often linked to the wellbeing of people we care for, community action and workforce pride or achievement. For me, empowerment and my belief in its importance in research was certainly a catalyst in pushing me to developing my theoretical framework for conducting research – The Silences Framework – following my PhD. I produced it in the hope that it would empower researchers to engage with sensitive issues involving marginalised groups…and I certainly felt empowered (or was it humbled?) when my presentation of the use of my framework in an evaluation study undertake with my colleague Dr Martin Glynn was well received on the closing day of the TQR conference in Florida.
But how does empowerment link to change? or our experiences of it? The seemingly constant state of flux, of becoming that we live with today.
bell hooks ( yes, I am still reading Sisters of the Yam), reminds us of the words of Audre Lorde who calls for us to think about about Empowerment as being “our strengthening in the service of ourselves and each other, in the service of our work and the future ….”. While Valerie Jansick (At the TQR conference) raised the issue of impermanence (or change) being part of who we are. So it seems to me that taken together, impermanence affords opportunities for empowerment – giving us scope to reflect and understand more about ourselves, who we are and what we are doing. This does not negate the feelings of anxiety or possibly reluctance that we may feel at the prospect of further change. But if we entertain the possibilities that could arise in this counter view of ‘impermanence and empowerment’ co-existing in harmony, we open up a range of ways of seeing ourselves, contributing towards our own goals and supporting those of others.