In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we often find it easy to advocate for others but struggle when it comes to standing up for ourselves. There’s a pervasive belief that prioritizing our needs is selfish or unkind. However, learning to stand up for yourself is not just an act of self-advocacy; it’s a crucial step toward boosting your confidence and maintaining a healthy sense of self-worth. So, how do we transition from being advocates for everyone else to becoming champions of our own needs?
Here are steps that I’ve shared with my clients over my 16 years as a personal development coach.
1. Strengthen Your Self-Worth
Building self-worth is akin to accumulating value. Just as financial worth involves keeping more money than you spend, self-worth centers on retaining and nurturing more of yourself. This “self” is a currency that can be earned, spent, or invested. To bolster self-worth, you must claim, own, and cherish more of yourself, refraining from giving yourself away to people or pursuits that don’t bring you joy.
2. Define Your Boundaries
Understanding and establishing boundaries is crucial for self-advocacy. Picture drawing a circle around yourself, representing your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual space. Inside this circle is where you live—the space that encompasses all aspects of yourself. Healthy boundaries serve as both a containment line, preserving your essence, and a protective barrier, keeping out influences that don’t belong. Clear boundaries communicate who you are and guide interactions with others.
3. Embrace Saying No
Learning to say no is a powerful act of self-advocacy. Before agreeing to a request, assess whether you can afford to say yes in terms of finances, energy, health, and time. If it’s a “no,” gracefully decline with phrases like “No, thank you,” or “That doesn’t work for me.” Realize that “No” is a complete sentence, and your well-being is a priority.
4. Break Free from People-Pleasing
People-pleasing, while initially rewarding, can diminish your sense of self-worth over time. Focusing excessively on how others perceive you devalue your worth. To break this cycle, shift from niceness and agreeableness toward courage and inner strength. Embrace the courage to be disliked, the resilience to endure rejection, and the strength to take risks. Value courage in yourself and others, cultivating a healthier approach to relationships.
5. Articulate Your Desires
Make a conscious effort to prioritize your desires over automatic reactions to others’ requests. Before responding, take a moment to identify what you want, then communicate your request. While articulating your desires may be challenging, it is a vital step in standing up for yourself. Your wants and desires guide you through life’s unknowns, providing direction, purpose, and substance.
In conclusion, self-advocacy is not just about asserting your needs; it’s a transformative journey toward building confidence and maintaining a robust sense of self-worth. By embracing these steps, you empower yourself to navigate life’s challenges with resilience, authenticity, and a renewed sense of purpose. Stand up for yourself, and let your desires shape the limitless possibilities that life offers.