Definition: The feeling of being in control of my own actions and the consequences those actions have on my life.
Personal Agency is the ability to make sense of or minimize the noise in your life, think things through clearly, and then advocate for yourself. As a core value I believe that all of us deserve to have agency over our lives. With agency, we can stop being victims. Stop being people pleasers. Stop waiting for someone to come in and rescue us.
This is literally the core value that could be represented by the idea of “putting on your big girl panties” and growing up. 🙂
Agency requires me to:
- own my mistakes and seek to repair damage I’ve done
- choose the amount and type of information and stimulus I allow into my mind
- select purposefully who I allow into my life, home, and community
- have a willingness to learn, grow, and be open-minded to how others approach things
Decision making from a place of agency looks like considering multiple options, reviewing any information or data I have, and adding in what my gut (intuition) is saying to me. Agency allows me to take a deep breath, think, and then act. Agency also says that whatever the outcome, I will deal with my choices and consequences.
Perhaps the reason agency is such an important core value for me is that it is stolen from children who grow up in chaos and abuse. When others exert dominance over your body and emotions, you develop a sense of not owning yourself or having control over your life.
Because I have that background people who try to control me, micromanage me, talk down to me, or disrespect me trigger feelings of being stuck or having no say over what happens next. Nothing makes me run faster than those who cross the line of my boundaries and attempt to take my personal agency.
As a core value, agency allows me to address times when I feel stuck or when life feels out of alignment with my vision for myself and those I care about. Agency enables me to stop, assess, and find a better path. It allows me to take responsibility, without blaming others. It allows me to live with the freedom that self-respect and boundaries are intended to provide. And it enables me to have a great deal of impact on my own life and to positively impact the lives of those around me.
A Note on Privilege…people who have never been abused, have a great deal of privilege, or are rarely (if ever) in the minority often struggle to understand the concept of agency. They have agency and expect to have it every day of their life. If you are struggling with someone who doesn’t even understand why agency is important, keep in mind that they will need to educate themselves and that you are not required to explain this to them.