Unlearning These 5 Things Will Make You a Confident Self-Advocator

Photo credit: www.thisisindexed.com

Photo credit: www.thisisindexed.com

What do you have to unlearn so that you can confidently speak up for yourself? 

1. The belief that your value is predicated by how well you follow the rules of society, culture and hierarchy. 

2. The belief that to speak well of yourself is to be a bad person, a braggart, a douchebag - the kind you judge secretly. 

3. The belief that conflict is something to avoid at all costs because it threatens your identity as someone who is agreeable and gets along. 

4. The belief that there's nothing to be gained or learned from failure, and that you've failed when things don't go exactly as you planned. 

5. The belief that you aren't truly worthy of respect, recognition and reward. You heed the voice that says, "You haven't done enough. You haven't checked all the boxes." 

Whichever your answer is, unlearn them all. 

1. Unfollow the rules if they don't serve you or your higher purpose.  

I was born into a patriarchal society in South Korea, where as young girl I was taught to be deferential, quiet and obedient. A virtuous child, I was told, accedes to the patriarch's demands.

A patriarch, it was assumed, knows better - regardless of whether he has your best interests at heart - simply by the virtue of being older and in a higher position than you.  

If reading that sentence made your eyes roll to the high heavens, I'm with you. 

Of many rules I unlearned so I can speak up for myself, that was the first and most archaic. 

(BTW, I hear things are changing at a lightning speed in Korea, a country I left for America with my family nearly three decades ago.) 

2. Do the unforgivable thing of praising yourself. Then forgive yourself. 

For a long time when I was young, I had trouble accepting praise. Any time anyone said something nice about me, my knee-jerk reaction was to either deflect or apologize or, weirdly enough, get indignant.

I couldn't accept praise, and I couldn't give myself credit.  

Over time, I built the habit of saying thank you instead of dodging away from praise. Along came the habit of giving myself credit. 

Giving yourself what you need is the highest form of generosity. 

Just as you need food, water and shelter to survive, you need acknowledgement to thrive. Be the one who gives it to you first. 

3. Unlock your stuck by braving the conflict that just might bring you closer, clearer and calmer after the storm.

Here are some questions I ask myself: 

What if a counterfeit yes - the yes you give half-heartedly to avoid conflict - is actually a no to your integrity? 

What if your unique point of view - even if it is a disagreement - is exactly what the room needed to hear so they can see the big picture? 

What have you left unsaid that you wanted to say? 

4. Disempower failure. Reframe what it means to succeed. 

So let's say you unlearn oppressive rules, give yourself credit and brave the conflict by advocating for yourself. You do your best. You speak up. 

But it falls on deaf ears. Have you failed? 

Put another way, can you control (read: manipulate) how others feel, think and act? 


You succeed by doing the things that are right for you. How others react to what you do or say is their business. 

You continue to succeed by learning from the outcome and calmly responding to their reaction. You try again. This is also how you become a skilled negotiator.

5. Turn the volume down on the negative chatter and turn up the volume on the voice that says, "You are enough. This is enough. And you are worth advocating for."  

Unhook from the voice of doubt that leaves you second guessing your every move, your intrinsic value.

Unbelieve concepts that bind you to passivity, resentment and avoidance. 

Undo the damage by speaking up for yourself. 

Still unlearning,