What Is Empowerment?

When you have a Wicked Case of the Butthurts

They say expectation is the mother of resentment. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t at some points gone into a learning situation expecting a tip or validation, only to be met with constructive criticism, or hearing that my basics needed renovating.

It hurts. It sucks. But, what are you gonna do about it?

There’s quite a bit of discussion around the delivery of criticism. Some folks are of the mind that it must be delivered perfectly, by the right person, in the right tone, with the wind coming only from the north and certainly not when mercury is in retrograde…

Some folks believe anything non validating is “hating,” and refuse to hear it. They share inspirational quotes about empowerment and straightening your crown and such.

Personally, I believe empowerment is the ability to take anything offered and make it work for you. This means I don’t believe the tone has to be perfect, or that the motivation of the criticism has to even be good. I don’t believe the teacher has to say it nicely, and I don’t believe it has to be perfectly timed. I’m here for one thing and one thjng only: to grow. And that means I am going to take anything thrown at me and use it to build.

That’s not to say I don’t get butthurt. I certainly do. And as a teacher myself, I won’t be hurling criticism at my students, and I will do my best to give the Ole Compliment Sandwich. I try to have good intentions for my students when delivering the not so fun input.

And this is certainly not to say you have to be around people who only criticize, or don’t do you any good. Everyone gets to decide who to let into their weird little world, and who doesn’t get to play with their toys. It’s good for the soul sometimes to fire people.

But I, perhaps arrogantly, believe the world is mine and nothing so silly as poorly worded criticism can stop me. And that’s how I see empowerment: learning from every situation, regardless of how rough the edges are. I don’t have time to wait for the perfect teacher to say the perfect words of encouragement on a perfect day: I can’t be stopped because I don’t want to be. And I wish this for you too.


One thought on “What Is Empowerment?

  1. I like this post. I always tell my coach that if I want to be told I’m perfect I’ll take lessons from my mom (not that she was always telling me I was perfect). What I do like about her criticisms is that they are grounded in things I can do to fix it. Rather than ‘you are bouncing too much at the sitting trot’ she tells me what i need to change in my position to make it better (mostly I’m clenching which, funnily enough, does not help but my body disagrees).
    For me that is the critical part of criticism (ha!). I once had a clinician who ragged me out because my horse was doing a lateral canter. I told her that I didn’t know what I was doing to cause it, that he’d never done it before and did she have any guidance. She said (and I quote) ‘I don’t know I’ve never ridden my horse so they went lateral. Go and fix it’. And then got angry when I didn’t fix it. (after the clinic I called the vet, turned out he had some early neuro stuff so I probably couldn’t have fixed it but..).
    So yes criticism is fine, but it needs to be grounded in actionable items.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s