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Third of seven talk summaries from Earlier in the day of this talk, I happened upon a fellow activist who said she was okay but didn't look that way. "Let's take a walk, " I said and it turned out that she had been, in the midst of the conference, working long-distance to try to save a dog from execution and now it looked like her efforts were going to be in vain. She felt grief, rage, and guilt all at once. Tenormin 50mg pills $174.00 she knew that she had done her best but still couldn't help blaming herself. We activists often hesitate to a talk about our feelings because we fear that doing so will lead us to unproductively dwell on them. Actually, the opposite is true. It's bottling up bad feelings that leads them to hang around, interfering with our work and our working relationships. Talking about hard feelings allows us to let them go or at least relieve their pressure on our bodies. That was true in this case. My comrade vented some of her sadness and anger. I listened with empathy, reassuring her of her worth without trying to talk her out of her feelings. While it sounded like she had done all that anyone could in this case, I was sure that she (like all of us) probably was carrying around guilt from times when she had made mistakes or not done enough and that this had probably been activated by the current situation. So, I made sure to say that there have been times when I have made mistakes or not done my best and I know how hard it is to walk around knowing that animals have paid the price for our errors and failures. After what turned out to be only about ten or fifteen minutes of talking, she felt better and more ready to go on with the work of the day. Activism is inherently difficult work. Burnout, stress, and depression are common among activists in all movements due to the demands that the work makes on our bodies, minds, finances, and relationships. Animal advocates also may be taxed by stressors specific to our movement and the kind of work we do. Many of us have witnessed horrific suffering that we have been powerless to stop. We know from research on trauma survivors that witnessing, and being helpless to stop, the abuse of somebody else is more likely to result in post-traumatic stress than being abused oneself. In relation to the animals for whom we advocate, we have both more power than we want and less power than we need. As humans, we have unjust power over them and this often leads to situations where their lives are in our hands. We decide what to do or not do and they live or die by our decisions. That's a terrible power to hold! At the same time, in relation to those who profit from the exploitation of animals we have less power than we need. We often work within organizations that are not as nurturing as they could be. And, unfortunately, sometimes movement leaders model or directly express disregard for the health or feelings of other activists because, after all tenormin 50mg pills $174.00, the animals have it worse. Fact is, we'll be much more effective animal rights activists if we respect our own animal rights. We need to take better care of ourselves and each other. So let me talk first about taking care of yourself and then about taking care of other activists. As an activist, your most important tool is your body, including your brain. Can you imagine an auto mechanic bragging about leaving his tools out in the rain to get rusted and then trying to use them anyway? That's what we do when we boast about going without sleep or skipping meals because we're so hard at work. What we need to do instead is respect our tools. Eat well, get enough rest, stay hydrated (that's the one I always forget), and don't forget to breathe. Get some fresh air and exercise every day. (You can incorporate that into your activism by leafleting or doing some other activity that gets you walking around outside. ) And don't forget to give your body whatever (safe and consensual) pleasures it craves. Your brain is part of your body and its functioning depends on how you treat your body. If you're going to be as smart and creative as you can be, you have to take care of your brain. Take a multivitamin to make sure you're getting all of the micronutrients you need. Be sure to get your essential fatty acids, since your brain is mostly fat. (I take a vegan DHA supplement just to be sure. ) Don't forget to drink your water, since dehydration slows down brain functioning. Do take my advise about going outside, since moderate exercise like walking helps to oxygenate your brain. You've also got to stimulate your brain to keep it in top working order. Read books on lots of different topics. Listen to lots of different kinds of music. Don't always do the same old thing in your off time. Visit museums. Support local dance or theatre troupes by going to their performances. Do anything else you can to get you thinking in new directions. Remember that, like anything else, creative thinking and problem solving get better with practice. Next, don't forget you're an animal. As we're always saying: People are animals. And: Animals have feelings. Well, that means you have feelings. Emotions are both physical and social. Emotions evolved in animals because they are extremely useful. They warn us of danger, motivate us to maintain social ties, and give us the energy -- the motivation -- to do things. They start in your body but are shaped by your life history, including your cultural background and your personal experiences. All of which is to say, you can't wish them away. Nor should you want to! It's only human hubris that makes us think we can transcend our emotions in ways that other animals cannot. Furthermore, our emotions are our most vital resources as activists. When we suppress or repress them, we waste energy keeping them down. Our words and actions become dull and sluggish. Worst of all, we become estranged from each other. But when we feel our feelings, they motivate our activism, enliven our words and actions, and connect us to each other. Of course, feelings sometimes can be uncomfortable. In general the key is to feel and express rather than deny or repress, understanding that they are going to stick around in our bodies -- sometimes leaking out in ways that hurt us or others -- as long as they are denied. [tenormin 50mg pills $174.00] It's best, if possible, to express your feelings in words to other people. If that's not possible, try writing, drawing, singing or other forms of creative expression to let them out. That brings me to taking care of each other. If it's best to express our feelings to others, then we have to be ready to be good listeners for each other. That's especially important for activists, since we may not have other people in our lives who will want to talk about the things that most trouble us. Luckily, we all have the resources that we need to be good listeners. We all can provide the three things that everybody needs: empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard. Empathy is feeling with somebody. Genuineness is being real. Unconditional positive regard is valuing the person as a person (and, in the case of fellow activists, as a comrade) even when you don't agree with or understand them. These are essential skills for us to practice because activist organizations are nothing other than systems of relationships. If the relationships are healthy, even the most impoverished and overworked organization can hang together and accomplish wonders. If the relationships are unhealthy, even the most well-funded and situated organization will fall apart or, perhaps worse, go on for years stressing out activists while doing much less effective tenormin 50mg pills $174.00 work than a healthy organization with the same resources could have done. How do we nurture the relationships at the heart of our organizations? First, listen to each other. When you disagree, do so respectfully. Aim for consensus when discussing disagreements. Instead of arguing without listening, seeking only to score points for your position, listen closely with the goal of identifying the true source of the disagreement. Figure out, and specify, all of the points on which you do agree. Then figure out the basis of your disagreement and what, if anything, might resolve it. More facts? A test of some kind? What? If it's truly a matter of opinion, you may have to agree to disagree. But, very often, you'll be able to figure out what would answer the question decisively, bringing you into genuine agreement. Throughout the process, remember and affirm that you are not enemies; you are allies who disagree. You may have, and can express, strong feelings about the subject of the disagreement, but that ought not prevent you from treating each other with empathy and respect. Next, take care of each other, remembering all of the things I've just said about brains, bodies, and feelings. If you have a group member who never gets enough sleep or, like me, never drinks enough water, remind them to get some sleep or drink some water or whatever. If you're going to be doing something fun, invite your comrades along, knowing that doing so will be good for their bodies as well as good for your group's feeling of solidarity. This is a good a time as any to mention that I go into a lot more detail about all of this in my book, , which includes tips for activists, organizations, movements, and communities. [SuperWeed readers can also find more information online in from Satya magazine. ] Finally, let me remind you of the upside of activism. Yes, it's hard work that stresses our minds and bodies. But it's also extremely meaningful work that allows us to be meaningfully engaged with other people. There's lots of opportunity to learn new things and develop new skills while doing something that actually matters. And we are truly connected to each other and the wider world in a way that is rare today. Most people walk around a lot or a little bit lonely everyday, because people are so cut off from each other, other animals, and the natural world. But activism, especially earth and animal activism, reconnects us to other people, to the natural world, and to our wider animal family. So, whatever else you do, don't forget that you're not alone. Whatever kind of activism you do, even if you do it mostly alone and can't tell anybody about it, other activists are with you in spirit, wishing you well and ready to catch you if you fall. I'm one of them.


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