Self-Empowerment & Reliance on a Higher Power

Corey deVosPolarity Map

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The polarity between Self-Empowerment and Reliance on a Higher Power represents a fundamental dynamic in the journey of personal development and recovery. On one end, self-empowerment embodies the principles of autonomy, self-reliance, and personal responsibility, where individuals harness their inner strength to navigate life’s challenges. On the other end, reliance on a higher power speaks to the surrender to a force or entity greater than oneself, which can offer guidance, support, and a broader perspective on life. This polarity is a central theme in many recovery narratives, including those in 12-step programs, where individuals are encouraged to find a harmonious balance between personal agency and spiritual surrender.
Self-empowerment stands as a pillar of personal development, fostering autonomy and a sense of control over one’s life. It encourages individuals to take charge of their decisions, carve out their path, and build confidence through personal achievements. The positives of this pole include fostering resilience, encouraging personal growth, enhancing self-esteem, promoting self-reliance, nurturing critical thinking, facilitating goal achievement, and allowing for self-directed learning. However, when overly emphasized, it can lead to negative outcomes such as isolation, overburdening oneself, developing a narrow perspective, fostering arrogance, encouraging a dismissive attitude towards others’ input, creating a potential for burnout, and engendering a lack of receptivity to external guidance and wisdom.
Reliance on a higher power, on the other hand, encourages individuals to seek guidance and find strength in something greater than themselves. This pole promotes a broader perspective on life, fostering hope, community support, spiritual growth, a sense of purpose, and a deeper understanding of life’s interconnectedness. The positives of this pole are that it can instill hope, foster a sense of belonging, encourage humility, provide a source of wisdom and guidance, promote spiritual growth, offer a sense of peace, and nurture a supportive community. However, when overly dissociated from self-empowerment, it can lead to dependency, uncertainty, potential for exploitation, diminished personal agency, avoidance of personal responsibility, fostering passivity, and creating a potential for disillusionment.
Self-Realization results from integrating self-empowerment and reliance on a higher power. This integration calls individuals to their highest and most integrated Self, where personal empowerment and spiritual connection coalesce to foster a rich, fulfilling life. Self-realization represents a state where the individual navigates life with a grounded sense of self, coupled with a humble acknowledgment of a higher power. It embodies a journey where the self is not lost but enriched through a connection with the higher, fostering a life of depth, purpose, and harmonious existence.
In the unintegrated state of this polarity, individuals may fall into two detrimental patterns: egoic isolation or spiritual bypassing. Egoic isolation refers to an overemphasis on self-empowerment to the point of disconnecting from the guiding force of a higher power, leading to narcissism, self-centeredness, and a loss of a deeper sense of purpose and connection. On the other hand, spiritual bypassing occurs when there is an over-reliance on a higher power, using spirituality to sidestep personal responsibilities and avoid necessary personal growth work, which can foster passivity, over-dependence, and a lack of personal agency. Both patterns prevent individuals from reaching a harmonious balance, where they can fully embody their empowered self while being guided and nurtured by a connection to a higher power. This unintegrated approach can lead to a life marked by inner conflict, unfulfilled potential, and a lack of true fulfillment and deeper understanding of oneself and the world.
Tips for
Explore Devotional Mysticism, a practice rooted in Bhakti Yoga, by choosing a deity or higher power that resonates with you. Engage in daily rituals, prayers, and meditation dedicated to nurturing a deep and loving connection with this chosen divine presence. As you do so, consciously let go of egoic limitations and embrace humility, recognizing the interplay between your personal empowerment and the wisdom of the higher power. This practice dissolves the boundaries between the self and the divine, fostering an integrated approach where self-empowerment coexists harmoniously with reliance on a higher power, ultimately leading to a profound sense of interconnectedness and spiritual growth.

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Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.