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Be Your Own Advocate

Many years ago I realized that I MUST be my own advocate.  Not my doctor, not my mother, not my husband, but ME.  If I want to go with the flow and be just like everyone else, then shutting down myself to blend in is the way to go. But doing so would mean that I am not acting as MY AUTHENTIC self, and that I am not operating at my greatest potential: Mentally, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually.
Three things I refuse to do:
BEING LESS THAN I AM CAPABLE OF
FITTING IN JUST TO BE ACCEPTED
SILENCING MY VOICE BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF OTHERS
This means that when my doctor thinks she will see me as a number on a lab report, I speak up and say, “While I respect what you are saying, I am more than a number and a normal range on a lab.  Here are my symptoms, and what is going on in my life, and this is what I think…”
Or when a friend or acquaintance starts talking about something that I know I do not agree with, then asks me, “What do you think?”  If I lead her to believe I agree just to fit in, then I am not being my authentic self.  We think we are doing this to not “rock the boat”, or to be kind, or to keep the peace.  But the truth is that we do this out of our fear.
When a client says, ” My husband just won’t listen to me” my question always is, “Did you use your voice, or did you stop speaking?”  They usually reply, “What’s the point?  I stopped speaking.”  When we stop speaking we CRUSH our voice; we destroy any chance of communication.
At some point, we have come to believe that silence is safe.  If we keep our thoughts to ourselves then we won’t get hurt, we won’t disappoint, and maybe we won’t be disappointed.
Friends, I wholeheartedly disagree.  Your voice is valuable.  I am going to make a very bold statement that may offend some of you, but here it goes:
If someone wants to silence your voice by refusing to listen, or by demeaning your words, it is because they believe they must be smarter and wiser than everyone around them, and ultimately they want control.
That control is the equivalent of a puffed out chest, by claiming dominance in the conversation.
You see this behavior in churches, at the office, between a group of friends, and even in your personal relationships. It can change. You can be the change. You must choose to either use your voice or silence it. But how?
Step 1 – Run the dialogue through your mind before you meet with that someone. This is so important. Doing this will limit the times you are tongue tied for a response. Why? Because you will have already run through every option in your mind. This way, when you get into the actual discussion, your mind will have already answered a few questions and connected a few dots, and will allow you to process the information faster.
Step 2 – Write down a few statements that keep you focused on your voice. This can be done on a notecard. Simply write down the key items you want to discuss and your stance on them. This way, if the conversation starts to take a nosedive, you can look back at your card and say, “I think we may have gotten off the topic, I would like to come to a resolution on x.” This card keeps you speaking, focused, and is a place to jot down anything during the conversation that you may want to address later. PLEASE DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE. THE PERSON YOU ARE SPEAKING WITH MAY GET UPSET AND THINK YOU ARE NOT LISTENING. A CARD SENDS THE MESSAGE: I AM PREPARED.
Step 3 – Be willing to walk away when/if they persist in trying to convince you that your voice is secondary . Remember, you have trained and conditioned them to silence you. You are NOW standing firm, and they will have to be retrained. In an instance like this, a great statement is, “Obviously we are at an impasse. I believe we need time to think about what each other has said, then come back and discuss. Thank you for your time.” or “We have covered a lot, and I need some more time to think.”
The main point I am making here is that YOUR VOICE matters. YOU matter. It is time to be your own advocate, and to be your authentic self.
Blessings,
Christi