Become Your Own Advocate

by Deborah Collins Stephens, Michealene Cristini Risley, Jackie Speier and Jan Yanehiro

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.
– Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop (1942 – 2007 )

Michealene spent much of her early life waiting for someone to notice her talent. She hoped that someone would come to her aid and give her the guidance and/or support she wanted and felt she deserved. She was disappointed.

“I can’t say I magically woke from a deep sleep and valued myself one day,” says Michealene. “After years of working hard and seeing the fruits of my labors go to other people, I realized I was the one who was giving away all of my power. I didn’t have anyone to blame but myself. That was when I realized the only person who could rescue me was me.”

Not all naysayers are external. All too often, the biggest naysayer in a woman’s life is herself. Do any of the phrases below sound familiar?

Oh, I can’t make a living at this!

This wouldn’t be a real job!

How could anyone find me attractive?

I wouldn’t be a good mom.

How dare I think I can do this?

Oh, I actually love doing this, but…

Who am I to think that I could go after this?

I don’t deserve this.

Oh, my God, what am I doing taking this risk?

Fortunately, we all have the ability to overcome the habit of being our own worst critic. Former American Psychological Association president Martin Seligman notes that many therapists are changing the nature of their work. Instead of delving into people’s pasts and identifying what happened to them in childhood, many therapists are now concentrating their efforts on helping clients take responsibility now to make themselves more functional. He calls this “a sea change in psychology from focusing on what damages people toward trying to understand what makes them strong.”

Do you have an inner judge who is quick to tell you how you are inadequate? Turn that critic into a coach. If that voice starts to tell you your dream is unrealistic and impossible, tell it the steps you’re taking to make it possible. If this inner naysayer scoffs at your plans, remind it of Jodie Foster, Anne Robinson, and Debbi Fields. Then get up, get out, and make a difference in the world.

Reprinted with permission by Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, This Is Not the Life I Ordered by Deborah Collins Stephens, Michealene Cristini Risley, Jackie Speier and Jan Yanehiro is available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher at 1-800-423-7087 or

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