When you are struggling, it can be easy to feel like your requests and concerns are unimportant and it can be hard to speak up about your concerns. What can you do to make your voice heard? Be your own advocate.
According to healthyplace.com, “Being a good self-advocate means taking personal responsibility for your own life - putting yourself back in charge and staying there. Speaking out means insisting that others respect your rights and treat you well.” Believing in yourself and your needs is the first step to putting your self-advocacy into action.
Write it down
Before you ask for something, think about what it is you actually want and need. Write it down if you need to, make a few drafts of how you want the conversation to go and even take the final draft in point form with you. That way, when you approach the person you are making the request of, you’ll have a clear and concise plan for what you want to say.
Even if the subject matter of your request is serious, try to approach the conversation in a positive and organized manner. An article from mentalhealthrecovery.com suggests, “How you say something often makes a greater impression than what you say. State your message clearly and simply. Tell the person exactly what it is that you want. Explain why you need it.” Even if the conversation doesn't go the way you hope, feel proud that you’ve tried to make a positive change in negative circumstances and take notes for how you’ll handle the situation in the future.
In any relationship, whether it is a work colleague, a friendship, or a romantic relationship, you need to practice self-advocacy to make sure you stand up for your needs. It could be that you hesitate to disagree with the other person because you are afraid to make the other person unhappy. But honouring your own feelings is important and keeping your thoughts to yourself can lead to feeling resentful of the other party.
Communication is one of the key components to any healthy relationship. Setting clear expectations and boundaries is important to successful social relationships.