Recently, I have noticed my energy drastically diminish while I read news stories or Instagram posts about the Amazon burning, or the wildfires in Australia, or the invasion of Indigenous lands in Canada, or the murder of Black folx in America. My mental state is scattered & upset. My physical body is in pain & I’m exhausted. If I’m feeling this way, I cannot imagine how BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) feel, and I never will. This is my privilege as a white woman.
While it is important to pay attention to what happens in the world, to participate in anti-racist work (including inner work), and to get involved in political issues that matter to us, it is also important to take care of ourselves while we do so. It’s difficult to stay focused on the cause of our activism, or even our everyday life when we aren’t honouring our energy.
We’re living in some pretty tumultuous times. And, unless we decide to shut ourselves off completely from the world, we don’t have a choice. Racism & ecoterrorism are everywhere, every day. Yes, even in Canada. We are not immune to white supremacy here in the North.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, helpless, or all of the above; first, meditate on the emotional turmoil BIPOC must be experiencing when they read the same information you do, and then, consider these self-care strategies while you try to navigate the royally f*cked up world we must live in & continue to fight for the rights of the oppressed.
1. Set Clear Boundaries
It’s easy to become lost in the scroll of social media, to click on every post for updates, and to say ‘yes’ to every cause that we care about. While it’s our job to stay informed & to inform others, we must also keep our precious energy in mind. This is as much a spiritual issue as it is a political one. And we must care for ourselves while we do it.
Some might see this as selfish (Aren’t we talking about helping others?) and yes, it is. By being selfish with our energy, we are saving ourselves from burnout, fatigue, & stress. Supporting a worthy cause & sharing information can be a long battle. Sometimes life-long. We must think about the long-term effects this can have on our minds, our bodies, and our souls.
Take a break from social media. Turn off news notifications. Mute stories & posts for a day or two. Use the time to practice self-care, reset your energy, and create an action plan for how you can help.
When we set clear boundaries, it can mean limiting our contact with those that shut down our ideas & create more harm than good with their comments. Sometimes it’s a family member or friend that doesn’t agree with your point-of-view or beliefs. That can hurt. A lot. Try not to take it personally. You are not responsible for changing their uninformed minds. But, it is your responsibility to start the conversation.
Educating & raising awareness is a tough job. Especially in the online world. We can argue all day long about whose ideas are right, but at the end of the day, it is what we believe & the actions we are taking that matter.
Block unapologetically. Turn off comments. Know when it’s time to step away from the keyboard or the conversation. If there doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, end it yourself. Save your energy to share with humans that you care about, or take an interest in the same actions that you do.
2. Create a Safe Container
With any supportive group, it is crucial to create a safe container or space that you, and others, can work within. Before we open our doors & hearts to those that need our help & support, we must harness the energy of safety, acceptance, & open-mindedness. The purpose of a safe space is to provide healing energy for both those affected by oppression and those supporting the oppressed. This can be your Instagram feed/stories, your blog, or actual physical space in your community.
Create a space where you can safely mobilize, discuss, & protect. These spaces create strong bonds. It is important to stick together and trust that someone has your back, even if they are a complete stranger. Regardless, you know you are on the same side of the struggle.
If you come from a place of privilege, use it to open your heart & your wallet for those directly affected by whatever or whoever is oppressing them. These actions create a container of support & safety. They tell the oppressed that someone is watching, listening, & supporting them.
3. Practice Loving-Kindness
As I said, this is a spiritual issue, too. Honour your emotions. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions you are feeling, whether it be anger, frustration, sadness, heartbreak; let it all out. Everything you feel is valid simply because you feel it. Just because we are talking politics, doesn’t mean we can’t be emotional. In fact, it means we should be emotional. Be pissed! Be radical! All for the greater good. That’s how action takes place; when we are passionate & emotional about what matters to us.
It can be hard to turn away from the ‘bad’ feelings (shame, guilt, grief, to name a few) & push past them. This is not the path to healing ourselves, others, or the Earth. We must recognize & release the emotions of helplessness & frustration. Honour them for what they are & move forward. This will bring clarity & help you on the journey to supporting & acting for others.
Show yourself & the other human beings in the struggle some loving-kindness. Allow yourself to breathe. You are only human. You can only do so much with your time here on Earth. Be kind to yourself through this process so that you may be stronger tomorrow & continue to fight for what you believe is right.
Heal ourselves. Heal the people. Heal the land.