My name is Fariba Parsa, an Iranian born- Danish Citizen, American resident, living in Virginia, USA. I am exited to get connected to my sisters in World Pulse. Like thousands of others I am passionate for women’s leadership and women’s empowerment. For this mission I have initiated Women’s E-Learning in Leadership, WELL a nonprofit organization that has the mission to empower university women to become leaders and have a positive impact in their community. I learned leadership begins with leading ourselves. We can lead ourselves when we are empowered. We are all capable to empower ourselves. You may ask how can we empower ourselves? After one decade studies about self empowerment I came to conclude that we might work with these three pillars: 1) Self Awareness, 2) Self Compassion and 3) Self Mastery. I am in the process to start my company, Self-Empowerment Academy, SEA.
Before I explain about the three pillars on Self- Empowerment let me tell my story:
I was born in Iran. When I was 12 years old I wanted to bike on the street but I might not. My mom said “ NO!, You are a girl! My mother has been witnessed for sexual harassment for a girl in my age who was biking. She did not want that it should happen to me. I saw all men on the street like hungry wolfs and myself like a baby lam. I saw myself powerless and a victim.
I compared myself with my brother; he could bike on the street, he could for example just stand in a corner and watch people. He could have a girl friend, it was cool for him but terrible for the girls. If I just copied my brother's behavior I was called a prostitute. I asked my parents why there were so many stupid traditions. My mom and other families laughed at me and said I was only a kid and I did not know anything about the real world. They said that I was confused. My mother ironically said “God has done a mistake with you, you should be a boy and not a girl. “ Another time she said, “you should be a bird and not a human.” I was a bird in my mind.
I was witnessed to demonstrations on the street, and the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. I saw many buildings were burned, gun shuts, blood and tear gas. At that time I was thinking things maybe would be changed for the better for girls and women but after the Islamic Revolution women and girls lost some of the rights they had achieved before the Revolution. The political changes were the opposite what many were expected.
In 1981, the war with Iraq began. At school, we had classes about guns and were each given a gun. We learned about different kinds of guns. The government announced that all people, including the elderly and young girls, should be ready for the war with Iraq and to defend our country. During the school hours, we were often forced to demonstrate in the streets for various political events organized by the government.
I initiated a school “news week” with some of my friends. We wrote critical short articles about the war with Iraq, the American hostages, corruption, and the lack of freedom. After only few days, I was called to the school office and expelled. My parents were worried that at any time I could be arrested, imprisoned or killed. I left Iran when I was 17 years old. Just a few weeks before, the Revolutionary Guard came to my parents’ house to arrest me.
I lived in India, Germany and later in Denmark, where I became a citizen. I began to use to live in my new home. I studied political sciences at university and got my PhD, was active in range of organizations and I became a speaker and specialist on Iran, focus on the political and women issues. I moved to USA in 2010 when I got a fellowship at Harvard University. Living in USA and meeting hundreds of scholars from all over the world influenced my thinking, and feelings; I saw myself living on planet Earth. I began to feel that I am a global citizen, My friends were from all over the world with different culture, religions and skin color. My heart expanded deeply to love all people no matter which nationality they had. I began to understand about other people's life and their struggles for freedom. Thinking and being global are some of the treasures I got in US.
Another treasure I got in US is that I may focus to empower myself and understand that I am the cause for my achievement and miseries. I learned that I should understand the world within myself before I begin to change the world outside myself. Therefor all my focus was shifted from the world outside to the world inside, to personal growth, and self empowerment. We change the world by changing yourself. The Persian Poet and philosopher Rumi from 11. Century said “ when I was young I wanted to change the world, now I am wise I want to change myself.
Now, a short description of the three pillars for self- Empowerment:
1) Self Awareness:
Self- awareness is about having our focus on ourselves and beginning to know ourselves. We ask ourselves: Who are we really, what are our goals, dream, challenges, fear? What are our core values? What are our strengths and skills? We think we know ourselves but our understanding of ourselves is only a small percentage of who we are. Research shows 95% of all we do is based on habit and we do it unconsciously. In the process of gaining self- awareness, we will be like a researcher who observes and learns without being judgmental. We will never be finished in getting to know ourselves completely. There are always new things that we can learn about ourselves which make us surprised. Self-awareness is one of the most important pillars of self-empowerment, because we cannot change or improve anything within ourselves if we are not aware of them. When you start the journey of self- awareness you cannot stop yourself from learning more about yourself; as a result, you strengthen your greatness within yourself.
Self-compassion is about being kind to yourself, accepting and respecting yourself and not being critical toward yourself. You forgive yourself for all the mistakes you have made. You accept yourself as you are. You are not perfect, no one else is perfect either. You accept your mistakes and learn to forgive and let go. When we are lacking in self-compassion we start talking to ourselves negatively. Negative self-talk induces the stress hormone (cortisol) in our body. As we know, having high levels of cortisol impacts not only our physical but also our mental well-being. We will not able to empower ourselves with negative self talk.
When we suffer, when we are angry, when we feel negative, if we are self- compassionate, we feel the emotion and tell ourselves “may I be kind to myself in this moment, may I give myself the compassion that I need” or “this is a moment of suffering, everyone suffers.” ( Kristen Neff, 2015 :Self compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself) When we are intentionally self-aware, we can build the mindset of self-compassion and be able to heal ourselves. Our focus will be toward healing, harmony, peace, love from within ourselves, and as the result of self-compassion, we feel more empowered.
3) Self- Mastery
Self-mastery is about learning how to master our thoughts, our self- talk, and our actions. If we cannot master our thoughts we cannot master ourselves. We are what we think; if we think we are capable that is we are. If we think we are weak, that is just we are. We practice to not allow any negative thoughts drop into our mind and we watch our thoughts.
Self-mastery is also about mastering our words. Words are powerful. Our life is generally shaped by our thoughts and our words. We need to master our actions too and the only way to master our actions is not only to master our thoughts and words but also to practice disciplining ourselves with our emotions. Self-mastery practice is intentional, to become a better version of ourselves and to empower ourselves.
Self-awareness and self-mastery are the wisdom from thousands of years ago. Lao Tzu, who lived 6 century BC in China, wrote:
“Knowing others is intelligence,
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength,
Mastering yourself is true power. “
I have developed a 7-session Self-Empowerment Coaching program based on these three self masteries and on my life experiences of living in five different countries, my academic studies, and my work with several nonprofit organizations for human rights, and democracy, as well as my own studies about self empowerment for the last 10 years.
• First session: Introducing Mindfulness, Discover Your Values
• Second session: Discover Your Strength & Talent
• Third session: Clarify Your Vision and Your Goals
• Fourth session: Cultivate Self-Compassion
• Fifth session: Introducing Meditation and Mastering Your Thoughts/ Self-Talk
• Sixth session: The Art of Listening/Communication
• Seventh session: Your Personal Strategic Plan of Action
The work with Women’s E-Learning in Leadership, WELL and Self- Empowerment Academy have been done by volunteering a few students and myself. If I want to reach more women and help more women in their journey I need your support: I am looking for people who can help with designing a website for Self- Empowerment Academy, people who give advice / help for fundraising, people who want to give feedback about Self empowerment and share their experiences, for people who want to enroll in my seven session self- Empowerment coaching program. ( For more information send me an email [email protected])
I am grateful for world Pulse that has created this opportunity for millions of women to be connected around the world. When we empower others, we empower ourselves too.
Thank You for your time.