This week on Embracing Intensity, we share our talk with Dr. Matt Zakreski on self-advocacy skills. Self-advocacy is an important skill that can help you take charge of your own life and move toward greater freedom, fulfillment, and happiness. In this episode, we’ll explore the concept of self-advocacy and how it can help us feel more empowered in our own daily life.
The goal of self-advocacy is to actively advocate on your own behalf to get your needs met. To be a strong self-advocate, you have to have a clear understanding of your own needs. This is important because it will determine your goals and how you will achieve them. If you have a goal in mind, you need to have a plan to get there.
The first step to positive change is to know what you are good at and what you are not good at. Explore how you can use your strengths to your advantage, and use your weaknesses as opportunities for growth.
When you’re trying to make a change, bringing in allies is powerful because it can give you insight into the world that you don’t have. They can help you see things that you wouldn’t have thought about. Gifted and neurodivergent folks often feel like they have to go it alone in their adult life. Self advocates use their support system such as colleagues, service providers, family members, or peer support. They aren’t afraid to ask for help!
Setting the Stage!
It is very important to set the stage and prepare yourself for the conversation ahead of time so that you can be as successful as possible. The best way to do that is to set aside time to prepare and to have all of your notes and your ideas and your facts ready. This way you will be able to focus and be more effective during the conversation.
Also, consider doing it at a time and in a place where you can expect to have success. Set up a good place and time to talk about your needs, but give enough context of what you’d like to discuss so the other person doesn’t assume the worst.
Before we start with self-advocacy, we also need to consider the person we are advocating to and understand that their strengths and challenges might not be the same as ours. We need to be specific and tangible and help them take ownership and buy into the solution. By taking on a leadership role in the conversation we can help guide its direction.
In order to give yourself the best chance possible to succeed, you have to be prepared to be flexible and let go of rigid expectations. If you are getting resistance from your boss or others, it’s a good idea to ask yourself, what do I need to do to get to the thing I want? Let them play a meaningful role in shaping what you need to do next. What new things can you try to improve the lives of people you’re working with? What employment opportunities might forward your career?
Supporting Long Term Success
It is also helpful to consider the benefits to everyone and make it a win-win. Explore how you both get the most out of the situation, help build and strengthen relationships and improve the lives of others. Getting what you want in the moment may not pay off in the long run if it means burning a bridge. Communicating clearly and assertively can help get our own needs met without compromising the needs of others.
It’s important to be specific with your plan for following up or life might get in the way. Self-Advocacy is a lifelong process of constantly setting and re-setting boundaries. This process helps you to move forward in a positive way, towards being more successful as a self-advocate.
Join us to learn more about self-advocacy with Dr. Matt!