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Privilege Or Self Protection: When Is Activist Overwhelm OK?

Privilege Or Self Protection: When Is Activist Overwhelm OK?

Editor Note: If you are experiencing overwhelm, establishing a solid mindfulness practice can help! Did you know that we have a free eBook all about it? Get your complimentary copy right away and add some vital skills to your Harmony Toolbox.

Whew! 2021 was challenging!

We’re willing to bet most of you reading our blog are all about positive change. However, that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. In some ways, the fight for social justice has quieted down on social media. But, that just means we are called to keep the activism and conversation going in ways that spread compassion and equality.

Something we hear (and as a brand run by People of Color, experience) is that giving in to overwhelm is a privilege. When you’re an oppressed minority, you can’t just step away from the news or social media and forget you’re oppressed. Society is going to remind you.

We feel that so hard, but we also have to ask the question, is it ok to take a time out to whatever extent you can?

Here’s why we say it is, and how we contextualize that.

Activist Overwhelm: It’s About Resources And The Big Picture

Things simply have to change. It’s unacceptable to us that systematic oppression still exists in today’s society. That’s why people are rising up against it. Add a global pandemic to that and you’ve got a lot to deal with.

It’s natural and normal to feel underproductive, depressed, anxious, and stuck. This actually forms a basis of compassion and empathy between you (if you’re an ally) and the people you’re standing up for.

However, if you don’t take the time to recharge yourself in some way, you risk burning out. This is important for allies because ally burn out can cause people to turn away from the united fight for equal rights and the protection of everyone’s civil liberties.

It’s important for POC as well, however. You’re carrying the brunt of all the pain and trauma you’re seeing and experiencing. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to keep giving.

This is a simple resources issue. Except it doesn’t feel simple, does it? The usual advice for avoiding burn out doesn’t seem to apply right now. The goal is just too important.

Activist Overwhelm: Being A Self Aware Warrior

We believe you can balance your activism with your self care to some extent and that its important to do so. We think being a self aware warrior means taking small breaks often but committing for the long term. Unplug temporarily but don’t turn away. Try to maintain your health while you’re working for a better world.

At the same time, you’ll fight against overwhelm so you can keep showing up. This is awesome and the more balanced you can be, the better.

If you can’t hit the streets safely, what about donating? If social media activism is starting to make you feel hopeless, get together with people who are doing the work on the ground. They can recharge you with their enthusiasm, commitment, and passion.

Reach out to each other and talk about how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, and why it’s important. This keeps you focused on the WHY.

Activist Overwhelm: Practice Mental Duality For Balance

We know duality is usually seen as a bad thing in mindful circles, but we’re advocating for it to the extent that it helps you keep two truths in mind at once. It is true that it’s a privilege to opt-out of activism and awareness for your own mental health. It’s also true that it’s sometimes necessary.

That’s a difficult duality to grapple with, but life is rarely black and white. Pun seriously not intended.

Be aware of this dual truth but try not to feel guilty while you’re taking your time away. Guilt will just erode the benefit your time out is supposed to provide.

Activist Overwhelm: Be Emotionally Fearless – That’s Its Own Revolution

Now is the time for difficult conversations and if we can all be emotionally fearless and openly discuss our feelings, we’ll make true progress. Allies, don’t pretend you don’t have privilege. POC, don’t pretend you don’t get frustrated with allies and their ability to tap out.

Just stay open and create a space where you can vent these feelings and come to a meeting of the minds. Try not to alienate each other because the goal is a better world.

Ask what you can do to help and don’t be offended if a POC doesn’t have time to tell you. Offer your assistance when you’re feeling up to it and be honest when you need a minute.

It’s not ok for people to disrespect your needs, but try to be a little extra understanding right now because people are struggling for their lives and quality of life and the stakes are high. POC are frustrated that they’ve had to go it alone for so long and that’s not only ok, it makes perfect sense.

Activist Overwhelm: Change It Up

If you can change the type of activism you’re doing instead of totally taking a break, that’s even better. Ask what else can I do? Can I use some of the skills I already possess to help others for a while? Can I make meals and deliver them to the front lines without staying there myself? Can I spread awareness and communication, or offer rides to those protesting?

Can you help get people fired up about voting? Maybe it’s time to become active in the political party of your choice.

All of these things help in different ways. You don’t have to keep doing the thing that’s making you exhausted. Try something else.

Don’t Give Up

The answers to these questions aren’t simple and that’s what makes them so valuable. We aren’t just changing the world, we’re hopefully learning about each other. We are growing and supporting one another. Our objectives are still all about building a better world, even if the trendiness of supporting BLM has faded. Human rights aren’t trendy. They’re a part of a healthy worldview.

We aren’t telling you that our opinion on activist overwhelm is the right one. We just hope we can spark some conversation and thoughts about caring for ourselves and caring for each other in today’s charged social climate.

Maybe some CBD can help you get more out of your downtime. Establishing a solid foundation of nutrition, self-care, and supplements keeps your body fortified.

Take care of others and yourself while you stand up to injustice everywhere. Do what it takes and remember what others are going through as well. That helps you balance the two.

Stay safe and walk in harmony, loves.


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