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Let’s Talk Wellness and Collaborative Empowerment

Eliana Fonseca

The word empowerment is interpreted differently according to context and frequently applied across many industries and conversations. In contrast, some debate on why we cooperate at all! They argue that selfishly choosing ourselves first is a logical option within a competitive capitalist society. 

So, what does this all mean to the wellness industry? 

Well, I'm here to challenge what we have been taught and tell you two things: 

  1. Empowerment is successful when it is Collaborative.
  2. Individualism -  aka the scarcity mindset - limits our potential!

Collective/Collaborative Empowerment

Toxic competition, or solely relying on yourself, may lead to a scarcity mindset and unhealthy behaviours, such as crawling your way to the top not caring about who you step on. Individualism teaches us that we need to keep our wins, strategies, ideas, and losses in private because of the fear of people taking our success. It creates toxic comparisons, jealousy, bad behaviour, selfishness, and even more scarcity!

When we look at the world of business, the best leaders empower their employees to increase productivity, efficiency, and motivation. They uplift their teams, share resources, and work in groups because it benefits the potential of the entire organization. So can this also be applied to the wellness potential of a person and their community? 

Human beings are social creatures that require support and cooperation to survive and thrive. With a pandemic geographically separating us, we have come to this realization now, more than ever. Collaborative empowerment enables our wellbeing potential by creating voice, space, support, and opportunity for everyone involved. It can be contributed as a financial value or in non-monetary ways. Instead of exclusively relying on yourself, a collaborative empowering community becomes one large platform of resources that benefits all of its members. It signifies healing in community, empowering in community, and working in community. Collaborative empowerment is an unlimited fountain of potential!

How to Empower One Another in an Inclusive Way?

Intuition and Intention

Just like many things, empowerment takes intention. You need to have a desire to help others and a personal purpose that helps align and connect your commitment. Be intuitive with yourself and ask: Why do you want to empower others? What is your purpose? 

Self-Awareness: Recognizing Privilege

Recognizing privilege is not a dirty statement! Understand that being self-aware will help you understand how you can use that privilege as a resource to support others. Make a note of your personal soft skills, resources, knowledge, platform, and network you have available. Without realizing your own personal wealth, you won't know how to empower others.

Action & Examples

Reflect on ways in which you can align your personal resources to empower. Remember that intention is only valid when there is action! Through your privilege aka resources, make space, give voice, and provide opportunities to others. Not one size fits all! It is an opportunity for you to think of alternative ways to resources, community, and helps us move away from a singular way of success and wellness. Here are a few ideas, which can be applied in your personal and professional life, to get you brainstorming:

In your personal life:

  • Share your resources: Save anything you find important that helped you on your potential and share it with others who you think might need it to! Links, books, articles, platforms, businesses, personal contacts, business professionals, podcasts, etc!
  • Words of affirmation: We know positive affirmations are essential during self-talk, but they are also extremely valid in the pursuit of empowering others. Encourage people's potential and praise their qualities. This type of encouragement can provide an extra boost of confidence to someone who might need it. You can give words of affirmations on IG posts, text messages, Zoom, or email! (Since seeing each other in person is hard at the moment)
  • Live true to you: Remain authentic to what feels fulfilling to your system. It will influence others to live in their truth. Living authentically means you are not superhuman. You are allowed to contradict yourself, change your mind, change habits, learn, and pivot. That's living true to you and owning who you are. Use this to inspire others to do the same!
  • Stay Informed: Ensure you have the tools and resources to incorporate correct culture, religion, and pronoun sensitivities in your everyday. Stay up to date with social and political issues and continuously read other resources to ensure you stay informed. Defend politically correct ideas when you see others not respecting it!

In your professional life

  • Mentoring: This might sound cliche, but being someone's mentor is so important! Create a safe space where you can answer questions, provide feedback, share resources, and share network to someone who might need it! Don't wait until someone asks you to be their mentor. Take on that role yourself! Sometimes people are too intimidated or uncomfortable to ask. 
  • Your service should be customizable and personalized: Everyone has different lived experiences. Therefore, you should not provide a service through one single template. For example, if you are a wellness practitioner, the healing plan of an LGBTQIA+ person will need to be different than for a cis-gendered woman. The service should cater to the root of their struggles triggered by trauma related to their specific intersect. 
  • Offer your services or products on a subscription-based model: money holds a lot more power than just monetary value. It has many dimensions and elements to it because it limits the potential of those who do not have enough of it. Through subscription models, you are allowing someone to spread out and break down costs in a more digestible way. Subscriptions can be similar to a payment plan without interests.
  • Offer your services or products on a sliding scale: This works by allowing people the choice to pay more to support others who cannot pay the full price and pay less to support those who cannot pay the full cost.  
  • Share Resources: Make resources available to redirect folks to other organizations or professionals that cater to their specific needs that you may not be able to offer because of limiting capabilities/resources.
  • Promote a “Pay Forward” Program: This will initiate the voluntary donation from your privileged clients to help fund your services for BIPOC/ LGBTQIA+ in financial need. 

Remain in Balance

Lastly, in our pursuit of helping others, it can be easy to forget about ourselves. It's unrealistic to be a voice of empowerment if you don't take proper care of yourself. Remember that wellness advocacy requires energy, so be mindful and intuitive of your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs.  

In Conclusion

In pursuit of our wellness potential, think collectively. Alter your ideas behind wellness and community work! You can be an advocate in many ways in your life, there is not one-size-fits all. Challenge the narrow assumptions about power, wellness, helping, achieving, and succeeding. We are free-thinking, free-acting people that have the capability of striving for individual potential while empowering others along the way. Remember that collective empowerment is strategic to your wellbeing because if your community is thriving in their potential, then so are you. We can achieve so much when we heal together!

References

Four Transforming Values, the Springfield Dominican Anti-Racism Team, September 2010.

The cooperative human. Nature Human Behaviour 2, 427–428 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0389-1 

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