I am woman. Hear me RAWR!
That should be a battle cry on advocating for one’s self every damned day – but far too often we let things go, take a step down or giant step back, and give up a bit of our soul. There’s a big difference between diplomacy and negotiating versus kowtowing and losing control.
What is an Advocate?
According to Merriam-Webster, an advocate is “one who pleads the cause of another; one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal, and one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group.”
If you’ve been quiet about your wants and needs then it’s way past time to begin advocating for yourself. Many of us suffer in silence because we don’t want to tip the boat. Look around, love. Is anyone else rocking your world?
Here are 5 Ways to Advocate for Yourself
Speaking up can be terrifying if you’ve never done it before. Trust me, the first time is always the hardest but it’s necessary to achieving real joy and self-actualization. As I’ve mentioned earlier, no one will advocate for you as hard or as passionate as you can for yourself. When in doubt, think about these five things to advocate for yourself.
1. Own It
There are distinct differences between opinion and fact. When people are throwing around their opinions it’s okay to push back with facts during a debate but, if you’re bantering about opinions, use “I” statements to make it clear that your opinions are your own. Remember that it’s perfectly fine to agree to disagree. If they can’t handle that or get really defensive then that’s their problem – not yours.
2. Speak Up
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation then speak up. No one is a mind reader. Remember those “I” statements. There’s a big difference between saying, “That’s crap.” versus “I’m not happy with that.”
3. The Golden Rule
Treat others as you would like to be treated. Part of advocating for yourself comes from how you behave around others. Be a force for good behavior and others will take the hint. If they don’t, see #2 and speak up!
4. Be in Control
You cannot always control your environment or any given situation but you can control how you react to it. Repeat after me: “I MATTER.”
Part of advocating is being able to defend or support your cause. In self-advocacy, your cause is YOU. No one gets any real estate in your head unless you give it to them. Don’t.
5. Take Baby Steps
Even badass tigers start off as cubs. Write down the things that are bothering you; the things you want to improve on; the goals and aspirations you dream of, and then make a plan. The first time you open your mouth to oppose a view and stand up for yourself is scary as hell. You’ll survive it. And when you realize that you weren’t struck down by the boogeyman, it gets easier with practice.
Small measured steps are easier than a giant leap to advocating for yourself. Start with the person staring back in the mirror before you tackle the world.