Do you ever get tired of well-meaning people telling you to take care of yourself or to be sure to take time out for yourself? I’ve often heard adult daughters and sons who are caring for their aging parents say that they would love nothing more than to have some time to themselves. “I would love to sit down with a cup of tea and read for half an hour” or “I would love to go work out.” Such statements are usually followed with a sigh and a comment like “…but that is a pipe dream with all that I have on my plate.”
When I hear this statement, there is often a ‘full stop’. That is, it feels like there isn’t anything more to say about the matter. Self-Advocacy. That’s what more there is to say about the matter.
Tips on self-advocacy
Self-advocacy is about speaking up for yourself. It is about saying what you need. It’s about interrupting a pattern of absorbing all the work and responsibilities at the expense of your own well-being.
The 2 key principles which guide these tips are: being honest and being vocal.
- Determine what you need help with.
What would free up some time for you? Don’t sabotage censor yourself with thoughts such as ‘that will never work’ or’ that will never happen.’ If you struggle with the prospect that you need help at all, you may want to check out the blog ‘There is only one barrier to self care’.
- Take responsibility for yourself.
Communicate your needs. Don’t make that incredibly common mistake of expecting other people to read your mind and know what you need
- Get really concrete with specific examples.
You may determine that you need your kids or your partner/spouse to take on more household tasks to reduce your workload. What tasks exactly do you want them to take on? When someone says “take care of yourself”, respond with something like “Yes, a great idea, and this is what I need in order to make that happen.”
As Maya Angelou said, “I learned a long time ago that the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.”
By being honest and vocal about your caregiving needs, you’re taking a proactive step towards making sure that you are only taking on as much as you can or should handle.
What is one thing you can advocate for yourself about TODAY?