I forged through a lot of material about empowerment (so you don't have to!) and have four takeaways from what I learned that can hopefully help you to improve your life and your future.
Empowerment means to confer power upon, or to invest power in. For example, you can be empowered by outside influences, like your boss who gives you the tools and decision-making ability to do your job. But I'd argue that the more important version of empowerment comes from within: understanding your own strengths and valuing yourself accordingly. It means defining yourself, refusing to let others define you, and taking responsibility for your choices.
If you don't feel self-empowered or in control of your life and choices, take a little time to think about why that might be. Are you functioning under beliefs about yourself that are no longer true? Do you operate in your life based on how others have defined and even limited you? It's easy to get mired in those old patterns of thought that are not useful, and maybe weren't even true in the first place.
Not to drag out the old chestnut of abusive parents or bad childhoods - but I'm a believer that if you had one, some of the poor self-worth you might have absorbed needs to be challenged and purged from your current vision of yourself. What successes can you point to in your life that invalidate those negative views about yourself? We all have some successes to reflect on, no matter how small. Make a list that you keep handy for encouragement. Take some time to reflect on your wins. How do the positive people in your life see you? Is it a version different from the one you recognize? Perhaps it's even more realistic than your own. Ask them.
Here's the hard part: self-empowerment requires ACTION the experts say, not just reflecting. It's all well and good to take stock of yourself - your strengths and weaknesses so you can improve on those weaknesses and build on current strengths - but this has to be for a purpose. That purpose should be setting goals, acting on them, making informed choices and taking responsibility for them.
Self-empowerment comes from believing you have the ability to succeed, and that the control comes from inside YOU, and isn't dependent on, or controlled by, outside forces. But you have to practice it; you can't change yourself overnight. After all - any negative patterns you possess took a long time to become ingrained, so shaking them loose will require time and effort.
Associate with positive people who encourage you and believe in your abilities. This, along with the work you're doing on yourself, will further you along the path to feeling self-empowered. It will help to give you a new foundation, and begin to erode the negative, paralyzing vision of yourself that leaves you feeling helpless.
I admit all of this seems like really hard work - but feeling empowered, rather than inadequate and powerless, seems like a pretty worthy goal. Good luck!