County Assistance Office
Acceptance and Awareness, Dignity & Respect, Equality

The Power of Advocating For Yourself

Living with my parents for most of 33 years of my life or being under some sort of supervisory control has always made me feel as if I have to go along with what people say, ask or do. But what if you are given a choice? For me after years of just following the flow, I had to realize that nothing can change without advocating for what YOU want because YOU know what is right.

It took me a long time to realize the method and ability for standing up for myself. At first, it wasn’t easily received and many times the way that things came across wasn’t well-spoken, a lesson that sometimes hurt when I was told so and the effects of what sour advocacy can do when it becomes that state. It took many heated situations and many times of me feeling uncomfortable and uneasy to understand that I have to be calm, cool and collected when advocating for what I NEED instead of what I WANT. Yes, we WANT many things to happen in the manner we want them to, however we must realize that there are sometimes other variables that are beyond the control of where they can be tailored to the needs of one’s specific needs. Therefore, by being understanding of the fact that just like the Rolling Stones song that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try (sometimes,) you get what you need. 

The same can be said for knowing what you want and don’t want to do if you are given the option to do so. If you are presented with an option to do something that you know is going to make you anxious and uneasy and will have no merit, then why would you put yourself through the agony, just say no if you are given that option. Just remember that unless you are asked to explain the reason, you don’t have to give all the details and that can be the best thing. 

The feeling of advocating for yourself can feel empowering, but in no way does it make you entitled. You must learn your boundaries when advocating for your needs and not call to attention things that have no direct involvement in getting what you need. This just draws unwanted attention that causes additional friction between the parties involved that is just unneeded.  What good is it doing for you to see that person get chastised for nothing that affects you in the efforts of your needs? 

When advocating, the primary purpose is seeing that the needs are addressed and resolved in a proper manner. A side casualty because it will make you feel good does nothing to improve your needs. It must be understood that there are rights and responsibilities that must be met for all parties involved and that causing undue hardships only causes further strain and angst between parties that may already have a compromising working relationship because of prior unmet needs.

Another point that must also be realized when advocating is to go to the proper party and follow the designated channel or chain of command instituted for that purpose. Not doing so will only result in further disgruntledness when it arrives in the proper party’s hands and it will set the tone for how the issue will be addressed and resolved.

Do your research. When you are advocating for your needs, know all that you need to know. There is nothing more disappointing to the advocate than advocating and learning that something cannot be met because of a certain regulation or standard. You must realize that those in authoritarian discretion can only do so much and they too have to follow directives that they may have no option but to follow as part of their duties. Therefore, I encourage when you receive literature that explains anything as far as your rights, responsibilities or anything in the arena of notice to you as an individual receiving any type of service – Keep it! I cannot stress it enough! Knowledge is power with the more you know!

Lastly, tell your story! You have lived it and when you are visiting those with the power to change the ways things are done or want some feedback, give it, have a list, tell your needs, fight for what you want, but kindly, share your struggles, or examples of struggles when you don’t feel comfortable being specific about your situation. Learn from others who have advocated for themselves and others as I have, you’ll be amazed.

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