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Do You Have Personal Agency?

12 Aug

Do You Have Personal Agency?

Posted By: 
Tamra Excell

When talking with parents about their hopes and dreams for their children, it usually boils down to two things: happiness, and self-sufficiency. I focused the last blog post on happiness, so let's take a look at self-sufficiency.

As before, I’m sharing some ideas here and look forward to hearing yours.

When we say we want our kids to be self-sufficient or independent, what we are usually saying is that we want them in control of their own lives and not dependent on others. However, some people - kids and adults – need help in life, either temporarily or due to a permanent condition.

So I would like to propose a new phrase: personal agency.

Personal agency is having a voice in your life. This means you get to speak for yourself, define yourself how you wish, and have an active role in decision-making when the outcome will impact you. Yes, being able to pay the bills is part of that. But ever know of anyone who was financially independent but not in driver’s seat of daily life?

Some people need help finding or expressing their voice; the advocate or ally for this person faces the challenge of accurately representing that person’s voice while - when possible – helping that person gain the ability to express directly. The goal is to empower each individual to be in that driver’s seat to the fullest extent possible for that person.

Have you experienced somebody speaking for you in a way that was NOT aligned to your own ideas or needs? Maybe you’ve even dealt with gaslighting? I have, and it took me well into adulthood to become strong in my own voice, and I can still struggle at times. As such, I feel the importance of this for our students. Since CMASAS was founded on a philosophy that nurtures life-long personal agency, all of us having a clear idea of what this means – with examples to point to – is crucial.

On that note, I have three questions for you:

1. What would you add or change in defining personal agency? Examples to help with understanding are also welcome.

2. How would you define yourself as a person?

3. Do you have any ideas or examples for empowering kids, or even adults, in developing their own personal agency?

Even if you have an answer for only one part of one question, or have something else to share on this topic, I’d like to hear from you! Just click reply and say hello.


Celebrating your voice and mine,