I’m very keen on self-advocacy and campaigning for our own rights. It’s like basic self-first aid. We have the right to push for our beliefs and values and to be treated kindly, and the way we would treat others, and this should start with ourselves. I’m not talking about demanding an Instagrammable lifestyle, feeling that life is only bearable if we can have all the things. This is the self-entitled, gimme stuff of the wildest dreams. When I talk about self-advocacy, I mean the things that I know many people still have trouble with. Being kind to themselves, giving themselves grace, patience, and not pulling themselves down at every opportunity.
Do you find self-advocacy challenging?
If you’ve been raised in a culture where you’ve been taught to put your own needs on the back burner, this could very possibly be you, but hear me out. No human being has the right to impose their will on you and tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, and what you deserve, and that you are less than anyone else. I’ve lived that life, and it’s shit. So, now, not only do I advocate for myself, but I advocate for you too.
Self-advocacy also has another dimension in my life as part of the disabled community, having to actively shout to be heard above ableist language and patterns of behaviour in the world. It can be tough going, but like anything worthwhile, the pursuit and effort are meaningful and effect change.
This is why it’s so vital that you begin with yourself.
You know your values and beliefs, and what your boundaries are. You know that when you neglect your own needs for the sake of others, it can become problematic, and then routine to do that. It leaves you without a voice. You become inhibited, unable to assert yourself, and quite honestly, just don’t like yourself very much anymore. I’m not suggesting for a second that we should say, “Sod you” to the good people around us, but a little kindness intervention for ourselves can go a long way.
Ryan and Deci’s (2017) Self-Determination Theory stated that to be extra AF, we need 3 things; autonomy, competence, and relatedness. So, we need to have choice and control, and the ability to follow our interests, confidence in our effectiveness, and a feeling of connection. To aid this process so that you can advocate strongly for yourself, I always recommend that my clients practice gratitude on a daily basis, in the form of three good things that have happened each day. You can even measure it scientifically if you want, set yourself a time limit for this intervention of maybe 4 weeks, google “gratitude questionnaire”, and fill it out before you start and when you finish. You’ll be amazed at the benefits of your scientifically conducted experiment, and how strongly you want to stand up for yourself. It truly is character-building stuff, and makes you want to pass on your new-found knowledge to those around you.
Give it a try. This stuff works. And if you need some guidance, get in touch.