Journal Entry 

 The Power of Self-Advocacy 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Subject: The Power of Self-Advocacy: Leading from Within

In the challenging environment of prison, and even upon reentry into society, one’s voice can often feel stifled. The barriers, both physical and societal, can seem insurmountable. Yet, amidst these challenges, we can empower ourselves by developing skills in self-advocacy. With this power, we build hope and confidence that we have tools to influence change.

Understanding Self-Advocacy:

At its core, self-advocacy is about recognizing and understanding our rights and then taking deliberate steps to voice and defend those rights. It’s about standing up for ourself, making informed decisions, and seeking out opportunities to better our situation. For those in prison, self-advocacy can mean seeking educational opportunities, participating in rehabilitation programs, or voicing concerns about their treatment.

Even if those programs are not readily available, a person can always work on self development, as we teach in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison (PSAP).

The Bridge to Personal Leadership:

Self-advocacy is intrinsically linked to personal leadership. It’s about taking charge of one’s life, setting a vision, and working diligently towards it. Personal leadership is about recognizing that, while we may not have control over external circumstances, we have absolute control over our responses to them.

In my work, I’ve often emphasized the importance of living in the world as it exists, not as we wish it to be. This principle is the essence of self-advocacy and personal leadership. It’s about acknowledging the challenges but refusing to be defined by them. Instead, we condition ourselves to succeed, even when it feels like the world is working against us.

Drawing Inspiration from the Parable of the Talents:

During the 26 years I served, I often sought solace and inspiration from various readings, one of which was the Parable of the Talents. This biblical story speaks of three servants entrusted with different amounts of money by their master. While two of them invest and multiply their funds, the third, out of fear, buries his share, leading to no growth.

This parable resonated deeply with me. It’s a testament to the importance of using the resources and opportunities we have, no matter how limited they might seem. Burying our ‘talents’ or potential, especially in challenging environments like prison, is akin to surrendering to circumstances. Instead, by actively advocating for ourselves, seeking opportunities, and investing in our growth, we can multiply our ‘talents’ and pave the way for a brighter future.

A Call to Action:

I urge each one of you to embrace the power of self-advocacy. Recognize your worth, voice your needs, and actively work towards your goals. Remember, every step you take in advocating for yourself is a step towards personal leadership and a brighter future. And as you journey forward, consider joining our community at Prison Professors Talent. By sending an invite to [email protected], you can document your progress and be part of a community that values growth, leadership, and resilience.

Michael Santos, 

founder of Prison Professors Talent

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