Certain things have taken their toll on me. As an eco activist, I have become accustomed to having my concerns for Earth and her creatures ridiculed as flaky, sappy, hippie, fluffy, not living in the real world. I’ve often seen people roll their eyes or sneer while I was speaking up about environmental concerns at church or a civic meeting.
At one point I noticed, “Wow, being a frequent target of low-grade condescension or outright contempt is stressful! It has taken its toll!”
I recommend everyone do the same. Recognize the things that have carved wounds inside your heart. Not to let them bring you down, but so you can engage in the appropriate self-care you need to persevere in your mission. Whatever your mission is, be it to eradicate racism, help your family and community weather tough economic times, save the planet for future generations, share your spiritual truth, or what have you.
Recognize your hurts, give them their due. It’ll help you stop beating yourself up for being “lazy”; “not doing enough”; etc. to fully, deeply take in the realization that certain things have just flat-out sapped your juice.
And once you’ve taken in that realization, get whatever help you need, be it through reading, a workshop, counseling, church or other spiritual community, solo hike or retreat, writing in a journal, plain old sitting and introspecting — whatever.
And then keep going with your good work! You know it’s good, regardless of what naysayers naysay, or haters hate. (Many haters are just recreational anyway. In the long run they don’t stand a chance against people who are actively working for the good. Not that it still doesn’t sting and demoralize a person to be on the receiving end of hatery.)
In my book DEEP GREEN, I have a chapter called “Get Your Mind In Order” that includes links to some books, courses, videos, and other resources that have been lifesavers for me, as an activist and as a being. (My book is now available free for anyone to read online here on this blog, as well as still being available in print form (contact me, or scroll down this page for the Buy Now button).
Self-care and planetary care are both necessary! Love yourself, love the planet.
LATER, same day: I just now had coffee with a friend, and he told me a story that ended up being relevant to this post. I was telling him about a “Hoarders”-level house-cleaning job I’m in the middle of. (Cleaning being one of the side-things I do to financially support myself to be able to be a full-time sustainability educator/activist. It pays well and I enjoy it.) I was telling my friend that the house was so packed with stuff, I didn’t even know how the residents (who now live in a nursing home) could even get to the bathroom or bedroom.
My friend told me that back in college, he’d keep his textbooks even after the semester was over because he hated the fact that he’d only be able to sell them at a fraction of the price he bought them for. He ended up with massive amounts of heavy books, which he carted around with him for a couple of moves til he wised up and realized it wasn’t worth the headache. So he went ahead and sold them or gave them away.
Where that story is relevant to this post is that some of us end up hanging on to our inner wounds in similar fashion. It’s as if we decide (probably not consciously), “I paid for those, dammit, and I’m going to keep them!”
Those inner scrapes and bangs might even hold some sort of self-righteous appeal, as a weapon we carry around in case we might need it. If you’ve ever done this (as I have in the past, before I learned how not to), you’ll know what I mean.
And now I say, “Those things are heavy! I don’t care how much I paid for ’em, I am happy to let them go for free right now!”
Emotional baggage can (and often does) end up adding to one’s financial overhead and eco-footprint in various ways. Free your mind; free the planet.
“Impressions“: One of my favorite talks about dealing with life’s wounds; how we have the power to heal them. The stories are sweet yet powerful. “What happens when things interact? What impressions are left behind? What kind of stories do we create to explain the impressions that life leaves? … The events of life leave tracks in our consciousness … This talk by Harry Palmer, the author of the Avatar® materials, was recorded live at the July 2009 International Avatar Course in Orlando, Florida. (length 33:00)”