Being noticed, recognized, and validated is so close to being loved that sometimes they can feel the same. We’re hardwired for connection and belonging. We’re hardwired for community.
Stephen Klein Wellness Center (SKWC) is not just a doctor’s office, but a safe haven for community and connection, which are the foundations of empowerment.
One community within SKWC is a group called “Healthy Hearts Philadelphia,” an initiative aimed at reducing risk for cardiovascular disease through a series of guest educators.
Community Health Educator and plant-based chef, Char Nolan, who teaches participants on a bi-weekly basis how to cook plant-based meals using whole foods from local businesses, said, “I believe those who attend the classes have formed a wellness community. We show respect, share ideals, and have a common bond of new thoughts and plant-based cooking.”
All relationships involve power, and many of us are disconnected from our inner power. At SKWC, we encourage staff and patients to explore the relationships we share with ourselves through the relationships we have with others.
Director of Nursing and Healthy Hearts Program Manager, Lisa Greenspan, reflected on the meaning of community and empowerment.
“Community means connecting with others, feeling safe and welcome, being able to express myself and not feel judged. It also means watching others expand self-expression and develop friendships,” she said.
“I feel empowered when I see my patients choose to make steps toward improving their health,” Greenspan continued, “and participants gain confidence and empowerment because not only are they heard, but they are asked what they think and how they feel.”
The process of empowerment includes cultivation of self-worth; the right to have access to choices, opportunities, and resources; the right to have power to control our own lives; and the ability to influence the direction of social change.
Abuse, bigotry, change, food insecurity, homelessness, judgemental misunderstandings, loss, neglect, prejudice, poverty, rejection, trauma, and violence can hide truth and disempower us. All of these experiences can mute our agency, authority, and choices.
Empowerment requires us to seek, cultivate, maintain, and support our inner power.
“When I see our attendees return to class telling me that they made a recipe,” Nolan shared, “I’m joyful because they’ve empowered themselves to try something new.”
I used my own journey of healing to develop the following acronym to guide those I work with toward cultivating their own empowerment: ANCHOR.
In order to ANCHOR ourselves in empowerment, we can develop: awareness, networks, compassion, hope, ownership, and respect.
The most essential tool for any kind of personal change is awareness. With awareness, we can learn how to make the best choices for ourselves.
We can become self-aware by:
- Questioning our goals, needs, wants, and desires.
- Becoming more mindful through meditation, prayer, and paying attention to our five senses.
- Taking action by seeking support and making behavioral changes consistent with our values.
Social support allows us to feel cared for and lets us know there are people in our lives who can help us when we need it. Social support can manifest in both receiving and providing emotional, tangible, informational, or companionship resources.
Stephen Klein Wellness Center has free wellness and support groups every day:
- SMART Recovery Group, Mondays from 1 pm to 2 pm
- Trauma Support Group, Mondays from 3 pm to 4 pm
- Narcotics Anonymous Group, Mon, Wed & Fri from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
- Mindfulness, Tuesdays from 10 am to 11 am
- Diabetes Drop In Group, Wednesdays from 10 am to 11 am
- Acupuncture Sessions, Wednesdays from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
- Nutrition Education, Every Other Thursday from 9 am to 4:30 pm
- Coffee and Conversation Group, Thursdays from 12 pm to 1 pm
- Women's Support Group, Thursdays from 1 pm to 2 pm
- Get Up & Go, Fridays from 1 pm to 2 pm
- Healthy Hearts Philadelphia from 12 pm to 1 pm (referral only)
As Kristen Neff’s research indicates, we benefit from warmth, kindness, and understanding for ourselves and others when faced with shortcomings, disappointments, losses, transitions, and challenges.
Many of us struggle to practice self-compassion when we are feeling low or down on ourselves. To develop compassion, for yourself or for others, consider what you might say to a friend who was in the same situation.
Try those same words on yourself or practice this meditation - Wellness365: Changes
According to Charles Snyder, a specialist in positive psychology, hope is the optimistic expectation for positive outcomes. Hope is rooted in having goals with various pathways and the agency to achieve them.
To develop hope, we can:
- Create goals to realistically achieve our dreams
- Speak with a therapist
- Reach out to our support systems
- Take care of ourselves with proper nutrition, exercise, and rest
If you are reading this and feeling hopeless, please reach out for help to someone close to you or a trained professional, such as a doctor or therapist.
Please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 for help right now about any type of crisis if you feel like you can’t wait.
We have exclusive control of our lives. Self-ownership is rooted in the principles of equality, choice, and self-love.
Ownership is often a natural byproduct of hope. To cultivate ownership, we can make a list of goals and positive outcomes that we can reasonably expect to achieve.
Developing our own goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (SMART) will help us have hope and root us in empowerment.
This kind of goal should answer these questions like:
- What do I need / want to accomplish today or in the next week, month, 90 days, year etc?
- Who and /or what may I need to get this done?
- What steps will I take to achieve this?
To practice respect, we can engage in self-esteem building exercises. These exercises might include:
- Thinking positively about ourselves
- Acknowledging our strengths
- Taking care of ourselves through proper nutrition, exercise, and rest