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Advocating for Yourself

Asking for what you need, what you want and what you’re worth requires practice. So practice self-love and start asking. ~ Anne Marie Houghtailing

If you are striving to flourish, thrive or just sometimes survive I want you to think about how to and when to advocate for yourself. Twice this past week I was struck by clients who didn’t know they could even take on such a role and without doing so they were inviting trouble on many levels. It can be hard to ask others for something and it can be harder to push for something you believe is important for you but if you don’t do this, who will? Perhaps you were fortunate enough to have a parent who stood up for you or later in life a partner who could do this when it was harder for you. If you don’t have this now, or are in a situation where it could be helpful, will you know how to do it?

Advocating does not mean, for the record, threatening a law suit you have no intention of filing or throwing a temper tantrum, no matter how much you’d like to. An advocate is, “one that pleads the cause of another” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). “Being your own advocate means that you ask for what you need while respecting the needs of others.” (Pacer Center Action) How to do this?

First; get clear about what it is you’re seeking – do you want to ask the doctor for a less expensive medication or simply to express to them your current financial situation so they can help you navigate more effectively?

Second; be ready to explain, without a tremendous amount of detail, what is prompting you to make this request. Are you seeking to ride to work with a co-worker because your car just died and you need time to get a new car but still need to go to work? Tell them that.

Third; don’t take advantage of people’s general willingness to be helpful and kind. If you have a real need don’t hesitate to express that but if you take advantage, the next person to ask who has a real need will be less likely to meet with success.

Fourth and final; thank the person. Regardless of the outcome don’t forget to thank the person for taking the time to listen and consider your request.

Keep in mind that unless we tell others what it is we need or the challenges we are facing, it is extremely hard for them to help us meet those needs and challenges! Reading minds is not a skill most people have so please, give yourself a break and ask for what it is that would be helpful to you. Care for an example? Have you noticed that each newsletter now contains a request to send this along to others who may enjoy reading it? That’s self-advocacy! If I can do it so can you – I have all the confidence in the world! Happy self advocacy to you today!

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