First let me offer you some context. Recently, I took serious steps to move my side hustle further down the path toward entrepreneurship. In doing so, I completed coursework through eCornell for a Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurship. The classes have been phenomenal. Phenomenal! Not only have I learned new terms and information as a business owner, I’ve studied ways to effectively communicate my competency as a relationship expert.
In one of the courses we were asked to take a hard look at our online presence. While my LinkedIn profile was pretty solid, the Web site’s blog seemed to lack a specific focus. In fact, there were more blogs showcasing my personality than professional verification of my ability to assist clients to accomplish their goals. Yikes! Not a good look.
So, I set out to hide all the posts that might portray me as emotional rather than expert. Yet, as I reread some of these “personal” and “emotional,” pieces, I felt that deleting them would be a betrayal to who I was as a professional and as a person. Given my professional platform involves helping others live an authentic life… was I being authentic by denying I had opinions about racism, gender, my faith, or acquaintances with poor boundaries? It certainly didn’t feel like it. The more I tried to decide which posts to hide, the more I wanted them, and me, to be seen.
What I was experiencing is what many do in their quest for self-agency. What is self-agency you may ask? Self-agency is how we negotiate our environment or situation. Self-agency includes showing up in our own lives so that we can add to the lives of others. I’m sure by now you’ve heard the battle cry, “Take up space!” championed by those historically pushed to the margins. Working to identify and live authentically in different spaces requires we do so with a healthy sense of agency. Below are some things we can do to put “self” back into self-agency.
Many people when they think of self-talk, consider spouting affirmations while looking in a mirror. While that may be part of it; one aspect of self-talk that does damage to our developing self-agency is entertaining our inner critique. You know, self-talk is that dialogue we have all day long with ourselves. It’s the inner speech that either shoots down or hypes up any idea that challenges us to step outside of our comfort zone. Self-talk can help us ease in new relationships or avoid them all together.
To determine if your self-talk is helpful or a hindrance, answer these questions: What is the theme of what you tell yourself about you? Themes usually fall under two categories: “I am capable/enough?” Or, “I lack what I need/There is a lack.” Do you speak to yourself and to your situations with compassion or are you critical and condemning? Which do you spend more time doing; talking yourself out of making positive life changes, or encouraging yourself to expand your thinking? Answering these can give you an idea of changes you can make regarding your self-talk.
For the past few years, we have heard a lot about the need for self-care and self-love. It occurred to me years ago, if self-love says, “I love me,” then self-care says, “Prove it!” When it comes to self-agency, engaging in activities that nurture us emotionally (life coaching, counseling…), physically (exercise/diet, deep breathing…) and spiritually (prayer, meditation…); helps us stay in tune with who we are and address areas needing healing.
Exhibiting self-agency, taking up space in our situations, requires we know what we really want and who we really are. Unfortunately, many of us are on the go non-stop, seeming to move from one activity to another. When we don’t take time to calm our minds and check-in with ourselves in a caring way, we can find that we are forging paths we were never designed to undertake.
In case you haven’t figured it out, self-talk and self-care practices lead to an in-depth self-awareness. Self-awareness promotes an authentic self-agency, which is an initial step to guarantee we show up in our lives fully present and on task. Awareness of our uniqueness, our needs, and our worth; positions us to be aware of the unique value in others. Strange as it may seem, an aware individual is a catalyst to the acceptance and appreciation of agency in others. See, self-agency is not about going through life with selfish ambition. No, self-agency lends to genuine collaboration and community.
Now, self-control is where the rubber meets the road. To consistently practice appropriate self-talk and nurturing self-care that leads to empowering self-awareness, we must exercise self-control. Must! Self-control involves discipline and routine. Taking the needed steps to make sure we show up for ourselves, owning our space, and navigating healthy relationships includes consistently commanding that our boundaries are respected.
Self-control, as it relates to agency, puts us in situations that require we present our best “self” every time, in every circumstance. Once we’ve decided to be seen for the wonderful authentic beings that we are, we are leery of attempts to silence our speech or diminish our worth. Being intentional to “take up space,” we are constantly on the lookout for ways to be advocates and agents for the “self” we are always becoming.
Self-agency urges us to become self-advocates and ask to be included at the various tables at which we request to sit. It also means we build tables and make room for others who seek to be fully present and fully accepted as well. Self-agency is not permission to run roughshod over others. No, having a great sense of agency means we show up for ourselves consistently and mindfully. For now, for me… self-agency looks like keeping posts that show me in all my complexity.