How and Why To Advocate For Yourself

We all want great lives, but most of us do not agree on what makes a life great.  Some of us aspire to be CEOs of major corporations, and some of us want to be the scientists finding the next great cure.  While we may want different things, as successful people, we share many qualities.  There are countless books, articles, and online research qualities that garner success, but I believe that there is one quality that can make or break not only a career, but a life.  This one quality can make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, yet it can be incredibly difficult to master, especially for a woman.  What is it that can make such an impact?  Self- advocacy.  Now, you might be thinking, “That’s it?  Not being a self-starter?  Not being able to focus?  Not grit and hard work?”   While these are all wonderful qualities, we need the ability to stand up for ourselves more than anything els

I have found that many women are trained from youth not to advocate for themselves.  We grew up watching our female mentors play supporting roles, and while some things have changed over the years, women are still not equal in the workforce.  We still make less than men, and are more likely to be poor, assaulted, and harassed than our male counterparts.  Standing up for yourself in an environment riddled with subtle sexism can be a minefield.  Sometimes women find it easier to just lower their expectations because of difficult or unsuccessful experiences in standing up for themselves.

I have seen this lack of self-advocacy when I coach women in relationships as well. There are many reasons that we do not stand up for ourselves in relationships.  We tiptoe around sensitive situations because we are afraid we might lose our partner or make them upset. We find it easier to push our own desires or dreams on the back burner to support our partner. We see standing up for ourselves as a “fight” for which we do not have the time, the inclination, or the energy.

So, how do we self-advocate in a world that has taught us that it is not what “good girls” do? Well, we need to change our perception of what makes us “good” in the first place. To quote Dr. Wayne Dyer, “We need to let go of the good opinion of others.”  Self-advocacy always starts with self love.  Granted, in one article I am not going to be able to teach you how to love yourself, but a good start is deciding what you want and deserve, and setting boundaries regarding what is unacceptable to you.  Letting go of the opinions of others means that we decide what is good for us and what we want.  We live life from the inside out.  We set our own personal standards and do not allow the world to decide what is right for us.  

Once we decide what we want, we need to decide that we deserve what we want.  We do this by coming up with a “good reason why.”  We need to like our decisions.  We need to feel confident about them.  Finding a good reason why you deserve what you want cements your ability to let go of others’ opinions.  I will often spend time with clients exploring why they deserve what they want.  This may seem like a simple task, but try it.  Often, finding a good reason why not is much easier, but there are always many reasons why you deserve what you want, and finding them is an integral part of self-advocacy and self-love.

So, let’s say that you have decided on your boundaries and goals and feel good about why you deserve them.  This is still not self-advocacy; this is simply the basis for it.  Now, you must go out and live it.  This requires a bit of faith.  Things may not go the way you want them to go.  Sometimes, standing up for yourself makes thing fall apart, but if they do fall apart the truth is that they were not working anyway.  Think of Ellen Degeneres: when she came out, she lost her show, but that had to happen for her to rebuild, and in the end, she came out on top.  We do not stand in our truth because we are afraid; being afraid is never going to give us what we want anyway.  As David Ogilvy said, “leaders grasp nettles.”  This means that in order to be successful, you have to deal with the unpleasant fear of failure. Just do it.  Knowing that self-advocacy is painful and might make things fall apart cannot stop you, especially if you have your “good reasons why” behind you.

So, how do we self-advocate?  We do it in the energy of love, the most powerful force on the planet.  Now, I am not talking about hearts and sunshine.  I am talking about the energy of truth, compassion, and authenticity.  The energy of love does not need to force its way through a situation.  Making a decision to speak your truth in love means that you show the world your authentic self, knowing that you voice needs to be heard.  You state your truth, regardless of how the chips fall, because you know that you not only deserve what you want, but you are absolutely going to get what you want.  If your current situation does not match your desire, then lose it and clear the space to allow the right situation, be it a job or a partner, to come.  Self-advocacy is not about fighting to get what you want; it is about expecting nothing less than what you want.  

When we self-advocate, we open the door to an extraordinary and successful life, no matter what our ideals for success may be.

 

Understanding Manifestation

Wouldn’t it be great if we could order the weather in the morning?  We could decide what kind of weather we want, press a button and, viola, we get blue skies all day long!  Sadly, we cannot pick the weather.  We cannot pick much of anything that happens in the world.  We cannot control the tsunamis of life any more than we can control actual tsunamis.  Even as parents, we may think we have some control over our children, but that eventually changes as well.  The only thing we really can control is what we think about, what we feel, and what we do.  That’s it.  The more control we have over those three things, the more control we do have over our experience in life.  The simple truth is this: if you gain mastery over what you think, feel, and do, you will gain mastery over your perception of every experience. The tsunamis will still come, but your experience with them will be vastly different.

“Manifesting” has been a hot topic for many years now, and it is based on an understanding that we are beings of energy more than we are physical beings.  Manifesting is based on the “law of attraction,” the idea that like things are drawn together.  You control your energy output, or your “energy broadcast,” in order to control your experience.  How do you do that?  First you need to understand how your energy broadcast is created, and then you need to put a new way of operating into practice in order to control your output.  It sounds easy in theory, but it is not quite so easy in practice.

So what exactly is our “energy broadcast?”  It is our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, combined with our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual “bodies.”  It is not a static broadcast; it is constantly in flux, with the active and attractive part of our broadcast being how we feel right now.   How you feel right now is based on what you believe and what you think.  Our thoughts are the starting point of our energy broadcast, so if we change the what we think about, we change how we feel.  Feelings are like magnets: the stronger the feeling, the more powerful the attraction.  The only way to change how you feel is to change what you think about.

Manifesting is a challenging process because it puts us up against the entire world, full of fear.  In order to truly manifest, you need to move from the point of view that the world is real to the belief that the only real things in your experience are your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Many of my clients call this idea insane when I first present it.  They say, “But there is a world out there, and that world isn’t always a kind or safe place.  There are evil things and evil people out there. You’re telling me that my thoughts will change the world?  That’s ridiculous.”  I know that changing your thinking will not change the world, but changing your thinking will change your world.  It will change your perception.  Two people may have the same experience, but one can come away from it empowered while the other comes away from it fearful.  Which one do you want to be? 

Changing your thinking is not as simple as saying, “I am only going to have happy thoughts,” for various reasons.  First, you cannot control every thought you have.  Second, only thoughts with feelings behind them have any attractive power, so you will not believe a happy thought if it feels fake.  Finally, you cannot think about every single thought you have.  You would not have time to leave the house; you would be stuck in your head all day.  You only need to change your thinking when you are not feeling content.  If you feel anything less than content, you attract unwanted negative thoughts.  It is not easy to pay attention to every thought, but it is easy to notice when you are not feeling content. 

As a life coach and an energy worker, most of my time is spent looking at others’ thoughts and beliefs and finding them more empowering thoughts to focus on.  There are many different processes that can help you find a better feeling.  The easiest one is to acknowledge your discontent and that it means that you must be thinking a negative thought.  Instead of focusing on that thought, focus on what you really want instead.  Then, consider what you want and list the reasons why you deserve it or why you are going to get it.  Thinking about why you are going to get what you want forces you to play an active role in your thoughts.  Often, I spend time with clients empowering them to find good reasons “why.”  Sometimes our experiences in the world will train us to believe that we do not deserve what we want.  My job is to help you find the reasons why you do.  Those reasons are there, but sometimes your own thinking can stand in the way of what you want.

Once your thoughts are focused on what you want and why you are going to get it, you get excited about it and are in “energetic alignment” to manifest it.  While this process is not easy, taking the time to do it can make a huge difference in your life experience.  While you might not be able to pick the weather, when you learn how to manifest, it will not matter.  You will feel happy about dancing in the rain.