Personal Empowerment: Knowing Yourself and Your Strengths, Weaknesses and Needs

Make no mistake: individuals of unscrupulous character do their homework with respect to understanding you. That’s how they’re able to get the better of you.

I’ve been posting a series of articles on how to be more empowered in relationships in general, and especially in relationships with persons of deficient or disturbed character. Some of the tools of empowerment we’ve already discussed include accepting no excuses for inappropriate behavior, judging actions instead of intentions, holding others accountable by being direct in your communication and expecting direct communication from them, and not being lured off message by diversionary and evasion tactics:

One very important general key to personal empowerment is knowing yourself well. Everyone has certain personality traits and qualities. Some of our traits represent strengths, others weaknesses. But it’s crucial that we know what makes ourselves tick. Some of us are overly sensitive to criticism or rejection. Some of us are overly trusting or gullible. Some of us try way too hard to understand. Some of us always want to see the best in others and inadvertently turn a blind eye to their more malicious conduct. Knowing oneself, one’s core belief system, one’s most intimate wants, needs, and desires, and most especially the kinds of individuals one is most attracted to is a prerequisite to avoid disappointment, exploitation, and mistreatment in relationships.

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When I was doing research for my first book, In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK](?), a young woman came to me who had an inordinate need to feel of value. At heart, she wasn’t really sure of her own worth and gained her sense of value by the degree to which she felt “needed” by others. Her husband always “needed” her most whenever he was appearing depressed and drinking again. Her son appeared to need her the most whenever he had lost another job and needed help with the kids or money. In the end, this woman’s need to be needed ended up putting her in a position in which she was constantly abused and exploited. Yet she feared that if she put her foot down, she’d be emotionally abandoned altogether and that no one would want her. This woman had no sense of power in her life.

I’ve received countless testimonials over the years from individuals who attest to the fact that their lives were changed forever and they found untold personal power once they became determined to search their souls not only for their deepest wants and needs but also for those aspects of their own character that put them most at risk for abuse and exploitation at the hands of others. Knowledge is power. And knowledge of oneself is most empowering, especially in the realm of interpersonal relations. Make no mistake: individuals of unscrupulous character do their homework with respect to understanding you. That’s how they’re able to get the better of you. They often know you better than you know yourself, and that is the heart of the problem. The key to empowerment is knowing those aspects of yourself that make you vulnerable. And knowing yourself is the first step in loving yourself sufficiently to set the limits necessary to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of in your relationships.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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