These empowering quotes won’t just give you the typical rah rah motivation you see in most self-improvement quotes.
They’re not the type of empowering quotes that use cute and pithy phrases like “believe in yourself.”
These quotes are deep, real, and raw. The kind of quotes that make you feel something.
Read this post until the end and see how empowered you feel.
“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.” – Cheryl Strayed
There’s only one thing you can use to stand out that’s truly impossible to copy. There’s only one thing no one can ever take away from you. If you use this wisely you can take everything that happens in your life and use it to make something beautiful.
No one can copy your life experiences. Even the most mundane life is filled with tons of little stories and intricacies that make it undeniably unique. Maybe you have some regrets about the way the past turned out. Maybe you wished you were more productive and hadn’t wasted so much time.
We all have certain traumatic events we wish never happened.
Since we can’t do anything to change the past, why not use it?
I’ve weaved so many random elements into my writing. The day I skipped a probation meeting to drop acid. The moment where I caught myself being glued to my phone while my two-year-old daughter looked in my eyes in a way that screamed ‘play with me.’
Hot boxing weed in the bathroom with my friends in high school and talking about our grand plans. Raps songs I’ve listened to. Sitting in my room alone contemplating my own existence. Waking up and looking in the mirror wondering whether my ears were symmetrical.
Most of your life contains these little moments. You mistake the lack of life-changing pleasure, success, and awe with a lack of meaning. Everything means something. Empower yourself by digging into your story, polishing up those moments, and turning them into useful gems.
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” – Brene Brown
We judge ourselves for feeling certain emotions as if there’s something wrong or unusual about having them. I attended a talk where the speaker said something that hit me:
Most of what we consider emotions are attempts at trying to suppress the emotions
You’re not angry. You’re trying to calm yourself down because you’re angry. Instead of being sad, you’re trying to think away the sadness. Instead of being afraid and doing the thing anyway, you’re trying to avoid feeling fear before you do something.
I’ve talked about the duality of life many times.
Contrast creates meaning. Without the downside, the upside doesn’t feel good. Instead of trying to numb the way you feel, feel the way you feel while you feel it. This doesn’t mean wallow. Wallowing is actually the process of remaining in emotional limbo instead of actually feeling what you feel.
Feel how you feel and live your life. You can be sad and live at the same time. You can be afraid and courageous at the same time. Sometimes the darkness has something to teach you and you’ll never learn anything unless you embrace the darkness.
Instead of trying to be stoic, live on both ends of the spectrums. High highs and low lows. Don’t just embrace both. Find a twisted way to love both because they make life worth living.
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou
A perfect summation. The only good options you have.
This is an empowering quote because it speaks to one of the most empowering things you can do for your mindset. Learn how to re-frame situations. You get this idea in your head that you have to feel a certain way about a situation when you don’t.
I wrote an article once about a friend who couldn’t get over being short. It ruined his dating life. He couldn’t change his height, but he could change the mindset that being short is an automatic disqualifier when it comes to dating.
This is more of a light-hearted example but there are heavier ones. People who are abused might feel like they can never trust and love. Those who find themselves in the thick of negative circumstances remain in them because their mind is in as much poverty as they are. A lot of people wish they could be someone else. But they can’t. They can, however, radically change the definition of what it means to be them.
I always try to ask myself whether or not my thoughts are useful. Do they help me get what I want? If they don’t, I do my best to change them. That, along with pulling the levers in life I do have control over, helps me feel empowered to handle any circumstance that comes my way, even if I hate it, even if it’s devastating, even if it feels like a hole too deep to climb out of.
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“What stands in the way becomes the way.”
None of us wants problems, obstacles, or setbacks to happen. But, we look fondly on them if we find a way to overcome them. Or sometimes they shift the trajectory of our lives for something better.
I had many setbacks in life, many self-induced. I dropped out of college and got arrested. Had I done everything right, I might’ve ended up in some cushy corporate job that sapped my motivation and lured me into complacency through toys and logos.
I learned to hustle and make money online out of necessity. I figured it was one of the only ways I could scrape together a solid living for myself without a degree or a clean record.
Negative experiences like divorce, as painful as they were, taught me valuable lessons I’ll carry the rest of my life and still gave me beautiful gifts like my daughter.
I watched a video where someone talked about why people who get rich off cryptocurrencies get depressed. They make life-changing money without the work. All their financial impediments are gone but this leaves them with no challenges and nothing to work on.
Contrast this with someone who actually had to build a business and encountered countless setbacks along the way. They get to enjoy the money and the beautiful struggle it took to build the company.
You don’t want to needlessly struggle all the time. But you do want the beautiful struggle.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” – Viktor Frankl
If you’re struggling with staying positive and persevering through a tough situation, read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. He managed to not only stay sane but find meaning while living in a concentration camp.
They snatched him away from his wife. He never saw her again. Day in and day out, he watched people needlessly die around him. He watched them, and also had to, do pointless yet backbreaking work for hours on end. Every day of his life was marked by the stench of human death, despair, starvation, a level of hopelessness many of us can’t even fathom.
The book is hard to read. He lived it.
He survived by keeping a strong why in his mind. At first, he did think of his wife and kept hope alive that she’d survive even though she didn’t. Ultimately, he decided that he’d extract meaning from his experiences. He turned his tragic experiences into a harrowing tale of bravery. He decided that no matter what happened he wouldn’t lose his dignity.
No one can take your dignity away from you. They can put you in a situation that makes it nearly impossible to maintain it, but they can’t take it. Only you can let it go.
A lot of us have things we’re going through. We also have dreams we want to accomplish. There’s tension between the two and a strong ‘why’ is one of the few things that breaks said tension and allows you to make progress.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Speaking of trying times and seemingly impossible to overcome circumstances, imagine spending 27 years in prison, getting out, and becoming the president of the country that held you captive.
If a quote from Nelson Mandela isn’t an empowering quote then I don’t know what is.
I have a chapter in my first book about people who accomplished improbable tasks — from Mandela becoming president of South Africa to Helen Keller writing best-selling books.
My life is nowhere near as extraordinary as theirs, but I’ve managed to pull off a lot of crazy goals in my life. Not by sitting around and thinking about them, but slowly and gradually working on them until they became real.
Millions of words. Seven years working on my craft. Countless hours. Going from no one knowing who I was to writing words that literally millions of people have read. One foot in front of the other my friend.
I love seeing regular people start with a crazy goal and somehow manage to gut it out day by day until it’s done. The satisfaction of getting it done is so pure. The results themselves don’t matter. What you took to get them means everything.
I know some of the dreams in your mind seem crazy and distant. But, if you gather the courage to take all of those tiny little steps, you get to look back one day and say “Holy Crap! I did it!”
I want you to have that feeling, but you have to want it for yourself more than I want it for you. More than anyone else wants it for you.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” – Marriane Williamson
Five words in this beautiful and empowering quote stand out to me:
Who are you not to be?
It captures a concept that flips self-doubt on your head. Self-doubt says you should shrink because it’s bad to shine bright. In reality, you’re doing yourself and everyone else a disservice by shrinking because the world needs what you have to offer.
Who are you not to write that book and rob people of the chance to read it? Stephen King famously threw away his draft of Carrie. His wife dug it out and made him publish it. Imagine if, King, selfishly kept all his fascinating tales to himself?
Who are you not to share your real self with us? Maybe, just maybe, we’d like the real you a lot better than the fake version of yourself you put out into the world just to get along and get by.
Who are you not to share your gifts with others? Clearly, God or the Universe doesn’t give out equal doses of talent and intelligence. But, we all have something.
For some of us that something is a genius I.Q. that builds rocket ships. For others, it’s a unique understanding of perfectly cutting grass, planting plants, and creating a beautiful ambiance to surround homes.
Self-improvement creates this really narrow definition of what makes you valuable — money, status, worldly pursuits, and uber productivity. There’s so much more to life than that and you don’t have to achieve world domination to share your gifts.
Like I said in the beginning, these empowering quotes aren’t there to just make you feel good and positive all the time.
They empower you to behave in a powerful way regardless of where you’re at in life or how you feel.
You don’t need all the best outcomes to feel powerful. Aiming for them makes you powerful.
You don’t need ultimate confidence to feel powerful. You’re powerful if you doubt yourself but ‘do the thing’ anyway.
Power has nothing to do with brute force and everything to do with trusting yourself to handle what comes your way.