Self-advocacy is the ability you acquire, as you mature, to know your strengths and weaknesses. It means that you take charge of yourself, your thoughts, your attitudes and your decisions and that you are prepared to accept the consequences of both good and bad choices, reward yourself when you do well and achieve what you had set out to accomplish!
Self-advocacy is also about striving to live a balanced life. Working independently is something you will learn over time. Your support network is critically important — never be afraid to ask for and gracefully accept help.
Self-advocacy implies that you must learn to speak for yourself, set boundaries, be self-disciplined and stand up for your rights, but always do so courteously.
Self-advocacy also means that you understand that every right comes with a responsibility. When you commit to something, make a promise or give your word that you will take it seriously. This approach also says something about the values you uphold.
Develop self-advocacy by improving your communication skills and practising tactful assertiveness. Be an active listener and an active participant in every setting you encounter. Every “yes” and every “no” has a consequence. Every choice we make affects our time, our relationships, our lives and our professions.
Think carefully about what you do and what you share.
We all make bad choices at times. Own up, apologise and move on. This is how you learn to become independent and develop confidence in your decision-making abilities.
In my life, when I was younger, I sometimes found it difficult to stay on track. I discovered that when I become distracted or preoccupied I start to drift and have to refocus my attention quickly, or else all those wasted minutes, hours and days catch up with me.
The world convinces us that we can simultaneously pay attention to many things, giving each just a fraction of our attention, without affecting our journey towards our destination, but this is simply not true. We rationalise poor decisions and deceive ourselves; we justify, defend, or attempt to explain away the reality that we are compromising and make more and more allowances, until one day we suddenly realise how far we have drifted off course.
The only remedy lies in disciplined choices and changed patterns of behaviour that help us to avoid ditches and drama, bumps and bruises. If you find yourself drifting, change course today.
No matter what your age and circumstances, develop every gift and talent you have been blessed with, develop your personality as you engage with others, exploit your intellectual abilities, deepen your value system and expand your integrity. Then your life and mine will have profound significance.