Are you your own best advocate or toughest critic?
I ask because I tend to come across as a pushover.
As a Libra, I tend to see both sides of every single situation, which means I have trouble standing my ground. And I don’t often advocate for myself, which can appear to be a lack of confidence.
The irony of this is I am a PR practitioner; focused on communicating and promoting the people and work of my agency to our various audiences, when I ought to be using those same skills to advocate for myself, as well.
While this naturally to me at work, doing it for myself (prior to blogging, especially) doesn’t.
In a group setting (like at work, for example), I usually wait for others to speak up and then I pipe in with my opinion, once I know my thoughts aren’t totally baseless. (The very fact that I sometimes question my own judgment is problematic to me and could impede my career growth if I’m not careful).
Sometimes I worry this makes me look like I don’t have an opinion, when the truth is, I like to assess both sides before coming to a decision … and sometimes struggle with coming to a conclusion if I can honestly see both sides.
All of which means that instead of advocating for myself, I end up criticizing myself for my lack of assertion/ability to make a concrete decision and stick to it.
In addition, not being aggressive/assertive enough has been a struggle for me professionally; I know I need to be more confident, forward and demanding to succeed in my position — but it’s something that honestly doesn’t come naturally to me. I need to chip away at it every single day.
(“Fake it til you make it” — yup … doing that!)
The truth is, I’m a collaborator, a people-pleaser. I don’t like confrontation, and I’m comfortable within the limits of whatever parameters exist. But that’s not how my position works, so I’ve had to adapt. Most of the time, I work autonomously, with only parameters I, myself, have created.
For some, this would be a kick-ass opportunity (self-created position/parameters), and though it’s not natural to me, I’m learning to really embrace it, realizing how very lucky I am. So every day, I try a little harder to make being aggressive more natural … but it’s definitely one of those “one day at a time” processes.
Likewise, on a personal level — when it comes to body image — it goes without saying that I’ve been my own harshest critic versus my biggest advocate. Blogging has helped with my confidence levels (I’m not ashamed of my blog, my writing style, or my disordered eating recovery/advocacy; I’ve made the URLs public in all my social media profiles) but that confidence still has its limits.
While I have no problem complimenting others, or congratulating others on health or fitness accomplishments, I still can’t seem to do the same to myself. I am proud of certain things, which I share here (a guest post, X months chew/spit free) but those are circumstantial examples versus an internal feeling of true confidence.
So how can I learn to advocate more for myself? Self-promotion or advocacy doesn’t mean being cocky or over-confident. But maybe next time someone offers me a compliment, I will just smile and say thank you, instead of following it up with a “but …”
It’s the little things — treating myself like I would a friend — that will help self-advocating become more natural, as well. I mean, let’s be real. I would never tell a friend her thighs look big, or that she didn’t need that slice of cake! So why do I give myself permission to speak that way to myself?! Shouldn’t I be my own best friend? Shouldn’t we all?!
Ultimately, our husbands, boyfriends, best friends, moms, sisters, children can love us and advocate for us all we want, but if we don’t love ourselves and value ourselves enough to advocate for ourselves … then we’re only hurting ourselves — be it personally or professionally.
So today at work in particular, I’m going to try to focus any “critical” energy toward creating “advocacy energy. I think that sounds like a great Hump-Day exercise, don’t you?
Care to join me?! I’ll let you know how my experiment goes tomorrow. It won’t be easy, and will require a deep level of awareness. It will mean stopping some negative commentary that might permeate my thoughts; it will require some reframing.
But I think it’s worth it; I’m worth it. And you are, too!
How about you? In your personal or professional life, are you your own biggest advocate or toughest critic? If you are your own biggest advocate, how did you get there? Did it come naturally? And if you’re your own toughest critic, how can you loosen up?