Empowerment: Surfing the Self

Ze Frank recently used a beach/waves metaphor to describe tech-world faddiness.

His discussion recalled to me that Alex, for a time, also poked around a surfing metaphor to describe methods of adaptive inquiry.

Obsessed as I am with humanist psychology, personality theories, the work/play dichotomy and human empowerment, I offer an extension of this wave-surfing metaphor in regards to the process of ‘becoming the self.’

Ze Frank says in Waves that every person has the capability to perceive external manifestations of energy – the way the world is moving – and align their self with the observed momentum, contribute energy to it and thereby experience the attendant benefits of the total energy in participation, without the pretense of ownership or authorship. This capability requires great sensitivity, is strategically intelligent, and is akin to the act of surfing waves.

Surfing waves is also a behavior of empowerment: channeling energy flows and external forces without trying to negate or stop them, aligning one’s internal energy with beneficial external energy, asking (as Alex so aptly phrases it) “How is this force (this trend, this direction, this momentum) media for me?” Surfing the wave is seeing any event, signal, action, or energy as opportunity, and adding one’s energy to the opportunity, thereby amplifying the overall momentum of the perceived good.

It is often overlooked that to form a concept in the imagination requires the investment of personal resources, and this energy investment is a choice and application of mind that simultaneously births the concept and lends to it its original momentum. It is a creative act that channels one’s energy towards the realization of that concept. This assertion, I believe, is what is at the heart of my guru Dr. G’s truism worries are negative wishes.

To switch voices now to the personal:

A vital capability for achieving an empowered perspective is to train yourself to surf on the intrapersonal level – there are waves inside of you that you can identify – passions, pains, excitements, furies, and fears – they exist, and you feel them. If you try to stop those waves by blocking them, or throwing yourself in opposition to them, you will drown. The needs of the soul and self will not listen to the tiny objections of your conscious mind. You need to be able to ride your own waves, align your will with your own energies, ride your internal momentum. Empowerment is the ability to surf the Self.

Empowerment may be experienced as episodic, like Maslow’s self-actualization experiences (a revision of his own Theory of Human Motivation.) The ability and inclination for sustaining the attitude of empowerment may itself be a quality of the individual’s self-concept. One individual may say, “I am empowered when I am here, or when I do this,” but another says, “No matter where I am or what surrounds me, I am playing, I am the best me, I am always getting better at being myself.

A barrier to empowerment is self-judgment. An empowered person can
acknowledge those judgments and instead celebrate them – saying, “
have done this, I feel this, and I have no choice but to love and
follow this, because it is a manifestation of the wholeness of me, and
allows the rest of me to come into being.
” Redirecting one’s energy to amplify one’s own thoughts and actions reframes the negative thing as a positive, and restores the individual to once again feel like the best self – no one else could do a better job at being the self that I am. This is an act of restoration, celebration and empowerment, and also akin to surfing.


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