Attitude is where the outcomes of your life begin; however it is only the beginning. Our attitudes need to be manifested in our actions. If I have an attitude of love for my friend, but am always too busy to help him or her out when they really need someone, my attitude is worth nothing to anyone, including myself. The same is true of your attitude toward yourself. We can muster all kinds of warm loving thoughts toward ourselves, focus on our strengths, forgive our weaknesses; and yet, if we don’t really take action in advocating for ourselves, we will end up being overlooked, used, abused, or at the very least, stagnated in our lives. We must be our own best advocate every day of our lives. We must go beyond self-love.
That is not because other people in the world are bad, or too self-absorbed. It is because it is just human nature for most people to be so caught up in survival, or pursuing a passion until they do not pay attention to your needs.
We don’t have to become self-centered and obnoxious in our attempt to advocate for ourselves; and we certainly need to be of service to others in order to be fulfilled in our lives. Just learn to speak up when you have a need or goal with which someone can help you. They have the right to say “no”, or “later”; but you have the right, and perhaps the need to at least ask or speak up in support of yourself.
Also, always promote your strengths and passions. Even if you are in a field in which you have an agent, publicist or manager who is supposed to be promoting you, it is still your responsibility to promote yourself. As a young author with my first book contract, I was thrilled that the publisher hired an agent to promote me and my book; however, I very quickly learned that I was the one who actually had to go on radio and television and speak up for my book and my credentials to be writing such a book. No one was assigned to go on the program and speak for me. It was quite a learning curve to learn to not only speak up for myself, but to actually promote myself.
Many unfortunate people have been taught that speaking up for yourself, and certainly promoting yourself is inappropriate, impolite, self-centered, or rude. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the same way that you expect (I hope) to speak up for you own child, or anyone else whom you deeply love, you need to speak up for, promote, support, and defend yourself. It is your duty as a parent to defend and advocate for your child. It is just as much your duty to support, defend, and promote yourself and all of the gifts that the Creator has given you.
We hire people to advocate for us in many areas of life, such as medical, legal, and domestic. But, we are responsible for making sure that we are getting what we need from any professional who is supposed to be advocating for us. For those of us who deal with a chronic illness, it is extremely important to remember this in working with your medical specialists. Even with the best physicians, you must speak up and ask for what you want, and ask any questions you have about your condition and caring for yourself.
Most physicians are competent, caring people; but many are not. Some are just overwhelmed or even burned out. Many do not get enough sleep, or take other basic healthcare steps, like proper diet. But instead of listing the many reasons why some physicians are not going to be paying attention to your needs, I will list some signs which indicate that you have a physician who is going to pay attention when you advocate for yourself.
A good physician spends sufficient time with you, asks if you have any more questions, and then really listens and explains in terms you can understand. He does not appear rushed. A good physician appears to be taking care of herself, well-rested, and in good physical shape. A good physician is generally prompt. Yes, they are in a profession in which emergencies happen, but they are not chronically late. A good physician returns your calls, or at least has their Nurse Practitioner return your calls in a timely fashion.
Physicians, and other professionals whom we depend upon to “take care” of us, really can’t be expected to know what all of your needs are, and can’t be expected to anticipate everything you need. You have to research your own condition and be a team member with your medical or other professional team in taking care of yourself.
Remember to advocate for yourself in every area of your life: Personal relationships; physical and mental health; professional matters; and in pursuing your passions and goals in any area.
What actions are you going to take in support and promotion of yourself, today? You are a gifted beautiful person, with a purpose in this life. Now, make sure that others know it!
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D. September 14, 2016