Someone says to you "You're so messy"...behind the words is their longing for order or space or a clean area to work. Of course their character evaluation can be uncomfortable to hear...and, if we're willing, we can also be curious if there is a simple request for a clean workspace underneath their judgement.
If we can get curious to hear what they are asking instead of reacting straight back, we might be more likely to advocate for connection rather than speak words that continues the disconnecting language.
Interrupting our habit of "hearing painful things" and instead "listening for their longings" can be a challenge.
That's why I call Self Advocacy a "martial art of the heart". It's about valuing how you create connection by listening behind the words people say. It's about noticing if you impact others with your words in ways that align with your values (or not).
Learning greater self advocacy skill means...
- we consciously hold the other person's needs as equal to our own when we communicate,
- we re-learn to language without the fear and assumptions we've made from childhood, like "we won't be really heard the way we want to be, so may as well be dominant otherwise we won't get heard"
- we choose to make observations rather than triggering ourselves with emotive evaluations about other people's communication
- we create choice with our language, by genuinely checking for willingness rather than disguising our demands in nice words
Self Advocacy is a martial art of the heart because it means changing our automatic reactions and learning to respond mindfully and with care in situations that might initially provoke us to want to disconnect.