The Art of Self-Advocacy

February 21, 2018

Self-care can have its limits. What's beyond self-care? The art of self-advocacy and being our own best allies. Read the article and get a free self-care worksheet! >> www.christytending.com

I get all my best ideas in the shower. The other morning, standing under the hot water, lingering in the steam, I started thinking about self-care (as I do).

I thought about the courage it takes to love ourselves enough to take good care of ourselves. In a world that often tries to teach us that we are disposable, caring for ourselves can seem radical.

Every act of self-care is a declaration that we are worthy and deserving and enough. Every act of self-care is an act of fierce compassion.

And yet, self-care has its limits.

I know this because I’ve been bumping up against these limits lately.

On the outside, I’m doing all the things I “should.” I eat healthy food that makes my body feel good. I have a movement practice and get time outdoors each day. And I spend time with my animals. I go to writing class. Each day, I take a long, very hot shower. Every few weeks, I get a massage.

I’m checking all the boxes.

And yet…

Something has still felt a bit off.

Because (and this is today’s big shiny lesson):

External practices cannot address what is internally misaligned.

Put another way? Sometimes, the only way to change your life is to change your life.

What I know after working with hundreds of students (and being on this journey for ages myself) is that sometimes we have to get scrappy. We have to become our own best advocates. While self-care and self-compassion are remarkably powerful, self-advocacy – the act of speaking the truth of our lives and our needs – is the scary, but really juicy stuff.

And as this phrase popped into my head, standing under the shower the other morning, I knew. This is the what’s next in my life and in my work.

Self-advocacy doesn’t necessarily look like self-care. It isn’t something you’d necessarily put on Instagram. Because while self-care is beautiful, and that seed of care is necessary, it’s just the beginning.

The art of self-advocacy means boldly declaring what we need in order to feel whole and well and like ourselves.

It means putting on our grown-up pants and doing what is necessary on our own behalf: like having those uncomfortable (yet honest) conversations, stating clear boundaries, and no longer tolerating what is not healthy for us. This isn’t something many of us are taught.

It can feel frightening to say, “This isn’t working.” Or, “I’m not okay.” To say that out loud can feel like a major leap. I know it can feel scary to declare what we truly need, define what is personally sacred, and not settle for what looks good from the outside.

It feels like drawing a line in the sand. Once we do that, there’s no going back.

But when we get to that line – when we stand on that precipice…

The only thing we can do is venture out into the wilderness of our hearts.

We boldly step off the beaten path in search of a life that feels sacred: not as a veneer, but at its core.

And that uncertain terrain? That’s where things get really interesting.

Organized under Featured, self-advocacy.