Have you ever said yes to someone or something, even though you really wanted to say no?
Most of us have. And many of us will keep doing it, no matter how stressed/overwhelmed/burnt out it might make us feel afterward.
WHY do we do this?!!
It can boil down to a lot of different reasons… lack of boundaries, wanting to please other people, scared of confrontation, etc.
But, ultimately… it means we’re not advocating for ourselves like we should.
So, what does it mean to advocate for yourself & why does it matter?
To put it simply… advocating for yourself means speaking up for yourself when it comes to one of your needs or wants.
It’s telling your spouse that you need a little more help around the house.
It’s telling your boss that you want an opportunity to share your ideas with the rest of the team.
It’s asking your teacher for a little extra help after class because you’re still not clear.
Sounds pretty simple, right?
Yet so many of us don’t do it!
Instead, we push those thoughts and feelings down or brush them aside and hope things will improve on their own.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but no one can read your mind!
If you don’t tell people what you need, you can’t expect them to meet those needs.
That’s why advocating for yourself is so important!
And the better you get at telling other people what you want & need, the better your life will become.
How do you get better at advocating for yourself?
It starts with the belief that you are WORTHY of advocating for. Your needs and wants matter & you deserve to have your voice heard.
If you’re a recovering people-pleaser, this habit will probably feel uncomfortable or unnatural for a while, but it WILL get easier as you practice communicating what you want and need from others.
Take some time to think about how you’d fill in the blank to these prompts & practice speaking up on the answers each day!
And remember – if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
When do you need to advocate for yourself?
As a former teacher and coach and someone who mentors business owners on a daily basis, I’ve often said, “No one cares more about your dreams than you do!”
In the same token… no one cares/thinks about your needs more than you do.
You need to advocate for yourself as often as you need or want something.
Think back to the last few weeks or months and ask yourself what you were hoping/wishing for, but didn’t actually ask for.
An opportunity to share an idea at work?
A day off for your mental health?
A few hours alone to get a massage or do some kind of self-care?
Help from a mentor/coach/teacher/boss?
Whatever it is that you need (even if it’s simply setting a boundary to say “no” to something), you’ve gotta be able to communicate it!
That’s why I also often say, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease!”
I think a lot of us tend to shy away from advocating for ourselves because we don’t want to come off as pushy, needy, greedy, entitled, (insert whatever emotion you associate with asking for what you need), but here’s the truth:
When we take care of ourselves and our needs, we are much better equipped to take care of others and anything else life throws at us.
I was so proud of my daughter, Skyler, when I went to teacher-parent conferences a few months back and her teacher told me that Skyler did a great job advocating for herself.
Wow, I thought – I’ve never heard a teacher say that about one of my children… but what an important skill to have at such a young age.
That is going to serve her for the REST of her life!
Not everyone starts advocating for themselves that young, but I can tell you it’s never too late to start.
So… what next?
Advocating for yourself can be as simple as practicing some self-care or speaking up the next time you feel compelled to say something or ask for something.
As you get better at advocating for yourself, you may find yourself advocating for others more too!
Not to mention you will be setting the example for everyone around you; as they see you do it, they will feel more empowered to do it for themselves.
It’s a habit that will serve you AND the people around you… and that’s a habit worth building.
I can’t wait to hear how this impacts you… and if you want to hear me speak about this topic even more in-depth, check out my podcast on advocating for yourself here.