Understanding Self-Advocacy

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Let’s talk about self-advocacy and how it can help you navigate through life with ease. I don’t know about you all, but in 2021, I am prioritising inner peace. For those of you who aren’t aware, self-advocacy is defined as speaking up for oneself and one’s interests. 

When I was researching this topic, I expected to come across a great deal of articles discussing self-advocacy from a personal perspective. However, all I found were ‘how to advocate for yourself at work’ articles. Of course, self-advocacy in the workplace is important, but advocating for ourselves as far as our lives are concerned is just as important.

So, in this post, I’m going to be sharing a few tips on how you can advocate for yourself:

Find out why you struggle to advocate for yourself – When it comes to self-development, in order to address anything that’s perceived to be an obstacle or a problem, you need to look at its root. This involves having a really honest chat with yourself. So if self-advocacy has been an issue for you, find out why you find it hard. A lot of people who struggle with advocating for themselves have been made to feel like they don’t matter in some way, shape or form. One thing or a series of events may have impacted their perception of self. I was brought up in a home where I wasn’t taught to advocate for myself at all. A lot of my current opinions, thoughts, beliefs and values were only developed in recent years. Therapy also helped me embrace self-advocacy in all its glory as well. Self-advocacy is basically what happens when you operate with your best interests at heart. If you brush everything you believe in and stand for to one side, you’ll feel depleted and this will naturally lead to frustration and resentment. So, if any of the points I have made resonate with you, please take some time to find out why self-advocacy has been an issue for you. Once you identify your ‘why’, make a list of some things you can do to advocate for yourself. Start small and take it from there. It is possible, but only if you embrace your truth.

Accept your truth and be patient – As mentioned in my previous point, you’ll need to embrace your truth. Some people are so scared of facing up to themselves because of what they think they’ll see. Nobody is perfect, we are all flawed in our own unique way. You can be a good person and want some alone time. You can want some alone time and spend a few hours a week volunteering at a local charity. People can be more than one thing. Perfection doesn’t exist, so if you’re chasing it, stop. Once you’ve reflected and figured out why self-advocacy may be an issue for you, you’ll need to find a way to advocate for yourself more. Some people like to write things down, so if you journal, write down a list of rules that you can follow (almost like an affirmation). Think of these things (or rules) as promises to yourself. Coming from a place where you have your best interests at heart is so important because we live in a world where people won’t hesitate to tell you what to do or who to be. Being secure with your own self- identity is a goal I believe everyone should work towards achieving. Also, be patient. If you aren’t used to speaking up or expressing yourself, you will struggle because you are ultimately stepping out of your comfort zone. So, do exercise self-compassion as well as patience as you make these changes.

Seek help if this is a real struggle for you – Those of you who have been reading this blog since it started will know that I advocate for therapy. If there is something that is stopping you from living your best life and being your best self, then don’t be afraid to seek help. The stigma surrounding mental health has been reduced in recent years. Needing a little help and guidance to navigate through life is nothing to feel ashamed of. In this post, I’ve talked about my experiences with therapy. Something else I believe in is trauma responses. As strange as this may be to believe, when we react negatively, it is mostly as a result of something that has been said to us or done to us. Trauma responses are a thing. If you feel lost and like you don’t know how to have your best interests at heart, think about going to therapy. Something to remember about therapists is that they have the experience and knowledge to be able to dissect events and circumstances in a way that you may not be able to. I know that many people may find the prospect of opening up to a total stranger a little daunting, but they are there to help, and as a result of that help, you’ll be able to have a better outlook on life which will then improve your relationship with yourself as well as your relationships with the people around you. Self-advocacy is the way forward, so if you need help, do seek it.

Focus on the good – You can’t self-advocate if you don’t know who you are. A strong sense of self-awareness and self-identity is a great help. When you really take the time to get to know yourself, you get a feel for what you will/will not accept. In a previous post, I talked about a task that my therapist gave me which I call the ‘I will/I will not’ task. So, on a piece of paper, write down everything you are willing to accept and then write down what you will not stand for on the other side of the paper/next page (if you journal). This task is a game changer because you’ll start to think about what you value and you’ll be able to use these values as a guide when you cultivate relationships with the people in your life. This is why self-awareness is key because you can focus on what’s good. You embody your strengths and all that you are, and when someone steps out of line, you’ll be able to say ‘hold up, wait a minute, this isn’t right’. Something I value now more than anything is openness. In my early-mid 20’s, I was so closed off to the idea of being vulnerable. If I had started KS in my early-mid 20’s, I don’t think it would have been the platform it is now. I’m open with my readers. If I have something to tell you, I’ll tell you. If I feel it’s a little too personal for the blog, I’ll use an analogy. So, focus on what you love about yourself, amplify those things while also paying attention to anything that doesn’t bring out the good/best in you. Once you do that, you’ll find it easy to speak up and advocate for yourself.

Self-advocacy isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Embrace your truth, trust your instincts and be patient. Let’s change the way we advocate for ourselves in 2021 and beyond!

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you all enjoyed it. Let me know which of the four tips resonated the most with you xo

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