As I shared in my first article covering the basics of advocacy
, and in my second article on raising your self esteem
, you first have to believe in yourself before you can convince others to believe in you! My last article explained ways you can create your own positive changes
. Now you are ready to move on and learn more about how to get what you want or need and put those thoughts into practice.
This article is the fourth in a series of articles covering the overall topic of advocacy. If you are like me, there was no “handbook” at my fingertips when I faced difficult situations that would erupt in the course of caring for my disabled spouse. Sharing my own research and experience, many times learned through trial and error, I hope to offer my insight on what works best so you can become an effective advocate too.
Advocacy can be used and applied almost any time, in just about any place, and for nearly any reason. There will be a level of self evaluation required in your advocacy journey to know what kind of person you are and what tactics would best reach your desired outcome.
The first step in getting what you want or need: Get your facts.
Topics like politics or religion are typically based on firmly-set beliefs. As such, everyone positioned on either side of the topic can present facts that would formulate and argue their beliefs. In this case, we are going to discuss an entirely different category that can become passionate or heated: health care. When there is pain or suffering involved, there is an emotionally-charged human element that can cloud our ability to see differing opinions or beliefs, let alone seek the facts. Fortunately, there is still a way to get what you want or need from someone who may not agree with you by focusing strictly on the facts. In order for this to work, you will need to be receptive to hearing and processing information that is obtained from multiple sources.
First, let’s evaluate what kind of person you are when it comes to seeking facts. Health care issues can create emotions of concern or anger and have the ability to upset you. Are you the kind of person who hears or reads something presented as a fact and reacts by immediately believing it?
A real-life example I would like to share here is the existence of urban legends. The reason why urban legends survive is because they are created to draw your emotions of anger or concern and are meant to upset you. So in answering this question, be honest. Do you get an email forward from a friend or family member that claims something horrible to be true, then immediately forward it to your friends or family to warn them or to inform them of an atrocity that needs to be changed in our world? Or, are you like me and first think, “Is this even believable?” and go check multiple sources on the Internet to find if it is the truth? If you tend to believe everything you hear or read and act on it blindly, it’s time to stop that habit!
When you speak up for yourself or others, you need to know what you are talking about. When you gather your information, you will need to make sure it is accurate. There are many ways to gather your information:
• Ask someone who has been in a similar situation, such as a friend, co-worker, or family member. A great place to ask for the advice of someone who has “been there and done that” is right here on the Daily Strength site. With over 500 support groups to choose from, you are never far from the help or information you need.
• Ask someone who has expertise in the area or specialty with which you are dealing. For instance, if you are in need of adequate or safe housing, go speak to the housing authority in your town.
• Contact various agencies or organizations, particularly those who specialize in advocacy and who serve people with disabilities or specific health care needs. A great resource for those dealing with combat trauma or disabilities to obtain a list of these organizations is the Challenge America website: www.challengeamerica.com.
• Study books and other resources that can be obtained through your local library, or gather literature from organizations that deal specifically with your topic of interest. The internet is also a valuable resource if you obtain your information from legitimate or reputable resources. Anyone can put bad information on the internet, but the trick is to learn where to trust your information. Again, the Daily Strength website is an incredible resource. Their “Ask an Expert” section is a great place to get your facts.
If you have difficulty gathering your information, ask someone you trust to help you. Make notes or print copies of your information, and put them in a safe place. You will need this information to be available when you advocate for yourself about this topic.
Next: Plan Your Strategy.
Read the other articles in Torrey's guide to advocacy:
Advocacy Basics - Part 1 of Becoming an Effective Advocate For Yourself and Others
Raising Your Self Esteem - Part 2 of Becoming an Effective Advocate For Yourself and Others
How To Make Positive Changes In Your Life - Part 3 of Becoming an Effective Advocate For Yourself and Others
How Do I Get What I Want Or Need? - Part 4 of Becoming an Effective Advocate For Yourself and Others