You Know You Best—The Personal Side

I love to stand up for others, especially when it comes to matters of social justice. It is relatively easy for me to verbalize when I feel someone is being mistreated for the color of their skin, their gender, their sexuality or their social class. But when it comes to myself and those closest to me, the advocacy process becomes harder.

I am not completely certain why this is, but I have a few suspicions. First, I am more emotionally connected and invested in myself and those I love. I have more to risk and more to lose if my advocacy in these moments does not go well. Second, is the concept of anonymity. We see this when people comment–for better or worse—on the internet. When I am advocating for a group or someone I am not in an intimate relationship with, it is less daunting to speak my mind and say what I believe. Third, are the ideas of self-esteem and knowledge. I do not always feel confident in advocating for myself or my friends and family. And, I sometimes lack the knowledge of how to advocate. For example, where do I glean information, who do I speak to and what are my rights in the advocacy process?

Over the years, I have had the privilege of learning how to advocate for myself and those I love personally regarding several needs—including personal health, business matters and the health and education of my children. In each of these situations I have experienced personal growth. Sometimes this growth was painful and many times I felt uncomfortable, but I am so thankful that through these circumstances I have learned how to better advocate.

Here are some takeaways I want to share with you if you are currently in a position where you need to advocate for yourself or someone else. 

  • Look on the internet at articles, websites, organizations and groups that are involved with your issue or cause. For example, in many (if not most states) you can take a personal advocate with you to school meetings if you feel your child needs services they are not getting. This is something many people do not know.
  • Enlist support. Whether it is through research, talking to a trusted professional or friend or finding a group related to your issue, find other people who will stand with you…or if you are unable, stand up for you.
  • Listen to yourself. This sounds so simple, but many of us doubt ourselves. If you feel something is amiss about how you or someone you love is being treated, listen to that inner prompting.
  • Don’t give up. Keep researching, keep reaching out, keep talking to your supports and listen to your “gut/heart.” Keep advocating until you feel the issue has been resolved as best as possible.

Finding ourselves in the position where we need to advocate for ourselves or others can feel vulnerable and daunting. Life Enhancement Counseling Services is here to help. We will support you as you process your ideas and feelings and create an advocacy plan for you. Please contact us today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our mental health clinicians. 


Yolanda Brailey