How To Resist From A Place Of Love: Self-Care For The Long Haul

If you want to sustain yourself for the work ahead, here’s some advice: It doesn’t matter whether the other side “deserves” anger.


Published:

There is a heated conversation in some activist circles that goes like this: Should our work draw strength from fear and anger or from a place of love and compassion? I have heard people say that if we stop being angry and start being loving, we would be letting the culprits off the hook. We would be blinding ourselves to the bad things happening and—in indulging our nice feelings—forget to help those endangered.

In workshops I give to help activists and concerned citizens cope, there’s an experiment I use that addresses this. It goes like this:

Conjure up all the fear and anger you have about the world and the politicians from the other side and the scandals and the targeting of those least able to defend themselves. Probably you’ll get a physical sensation. Where is that sensation? For most people it is in the throat and top of the chest. Now, imagine that you are powering your voice from there and that you are shouting at a march or speaking to an elected official. Try speaking from there right now, out loud. How long could you sustain it? Do you get the sense that before long you would go hoarse?

Next, imagine the love you feel for nature and the compassion you feel for those who need help. Now ask yourself where in your body the physical sensation is. For many, the feeling is located just below the naval. Now try to power your voice from that place, speaking out loud again. How long could that energy last?

If you are anything like me, you might get the feeling you could go forever.

And that is the thing about fear and anger versus love. Regardless of whether the other side “deserves” anger, we must sustain ourselves for the work ahead. Can we actually go on forever with a blaming mentality, or will our work be better served by love? Our vision for the world is more likely to be achieved if it is grounded in compassion and love.

Recently, because so many people in my community were anxious and exhausted after the election, I held a workshop called “The Long Haul: Wisdom for Activists and Concerned Citizens.” The goal was to search for an attitude that would help us continue to work steadfastly toward a fair, compassionate, just, safe world without burning out.

There were nearly 40 of us. Some were seasoned activists alarmed by the bottom dropping out of all they thought they had achieved. Others were formerly disengaged citizens woken up by the election. Others were just concerned citizens, tired of being isolated behind their computer screens with all that worried them.

Here are three exercises we did.

Witnessing each other’s good work and giving thanks

We walked around the room introducing ourselves to each other, briefly recounting actions we had taken, like visiting elected officials or going on marches. Each of us attempted to really listen, then offered heartfelt thanks and hugged or touched each other’s shoulders or squeezed each other’s hands. This exercise helps change our view of the world from a dangerous, hate-filled place to a loving, hope-filled place. Keeping our focus on the good in the world helps many of us sustain our work.

Owning our complicity in the world’s problems

In groups of four, we each owned aspects of our own personal responsibility for the problems in the world. We talked about how we used fossil fuels even as we condemned the fossil fuel industry. We talked about how we had never bothered to take note of the 3 million to 4 million deportations that happened each year prior to Trump.

Bringing the world’s problems home and owning our part in them allows us to dissolve the imaginary monsters we see in Trump voters and people whose ideas differ from ours. Owning our complicity allows us to see ourselves in and have compassion for those we blame. We get to see that all of us—all of us—get caught up in deluded thinking and actions.

Create a positive vision rather than react to negative events

Next, we took turns in pairs telling each other our visions for the world. We each talked not about what we wanted to resist but about what we wanted to create. We talked about the clean air and water that comes with renewable energy. We talked about the resilient communities that come with racial and economic justice. We talked about the capable children that come with good schools. This provided us with a sense of agency and defined the good things we wanted for the world.

After the workshop, I was heartened to see how the energy in the room had lightened. People seemed inspired to carry on. “I realize I have been clinging to my anger and my need to make someone else wrong with more energy than I have been trying to figure out how I can do what’s right,” someone said.

The point of this kind of work is simply not to let ourselves sink so deeply into our own despair that we can no longer act to combat the suffering of others. Caring people need to take care. We may have to find ways to put aside our unsustainable anger and fear in favor of our endless reserves of love and compassion.

Colin Beavan helps people and organizations to live and operate in ways that have a meaningful impact on the world. His most recent book is “How To Be Alive,” and he blogs at ColinBeavan.com. Besides YES! Magazine, his articles have appeared in Esquire, Atlantic, and the New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

This article was republished from YES! Magazine.

See also:
What It Takes to Change Hearts and Minds
Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting The Trump Agenda

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

July 22, 2018

Early risers wake up to the warm glow of Venus’ sextile to Jupiter. The enthusiastic angle is a crowd pleasing gift from the cosmos, a tribute to generosity, sharing and caring. With such a firm and positive foundation, the day gets off to a wonderful…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

July 2018

Grief is a part of human existence. When we break down the walls of silence around grief we open ourselves up to deep and rich opportunities for growth and healing. In this workshop we will build a...

Cost: $65

Where:
Yogalife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: Yogalife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-479-3865
Contact Name: Julie Rost
Website »

More information

The GFAF Expos are the greatest events on earth for those living a gluten-free or allergen-friendly lifestyle. Sample hundreds of products, meet with local and national brands, receive coupons and...

Where:
DCU Center
50 Foster Street
Worcester, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

July 23 - August 3 Ancient wisdom for a child's mind, body, and spirit. July 23-27, ages 5-10; July 30-Aug 3, ages 11-16. 9am-3pm. With a holistic approach to integrating mind, body, and...

Cost: $275

Where:
Unity of Greater Portland
Windham, ME


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Third Tuesday of every month! A wonderful way to dilute stress and heal yourself with peace. www.WisdomoftheAges.biz www.Facebook.com/WisdomoftheAgesStore

Cost: $10

Where:
Wisdom of the Ages
Simsbury, CT


Telephone: 860-651-1172
Website »

More information

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Relax and restore this summer with free outdoor yoga classes on historic Rogers Field! We’re packing the lawn with yogis of all levels for yoga led by experienced practitioners from Dragonfly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-487-7181
Contact Name: Anne Ferguson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Tao Tan Pai 31 Postures/Meditations is the basic health and self-healing Qigong training of the Tao Tan Pai Kung Fu system - an authentic Taoist monastic system originated during China’s Tang...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Tao Tan Pai 31 Postures/Meditations is the basic health and self-healing Qigong training of the Tao Tan Pai Kung Fu system - an authentic Taoist monastic system originated during China’s Tang...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

July 27 - 29 This comprehensive Tai Chi Quan workshop consists of three sessions: 1) The Traditional Yang Style 9 Form Tai Chi Quan, where beginners will learn how to perform basic Tai Chi...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

July 27 - 29, 2018 Rising to the feminine in you!  Discounted until May 1st. If you have wanted to learn more about centering, healing and toning from your pelvic floor and womb to...

Cost: $350

Where:
Taproot Herbals
Williamstown, VT  05679


Sponsor: TaprootHerbals.com
Telephone: 802-249-7551
Contact Name: Marie Frohlich
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Tao Tan Pai 31 Postures/Meditations is the basic health and self-healing Qigong training of the Tao Tan Pai Kung Fu system - an authentic Taoist monastic system originated during China’s Tang...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Dealers, exhibits, lectures, demonstrations, children’s activities, silent auctions, door prizes, refreshments, free parking. Handicapped accessible.

Cost: $4 adults (16-59), $3 seniors (60+), children under 16 free with paying adult.

Where:
Tuttle Middle School
500 Dorset Street
South Burlington, VT  05403
View map »


Sponsor: Burlington Gem and Mineral Club
Telephone: 802-785-9821
Contact Name: Arden Fendrich
Website »

More information

Wild Vibes will be kicking off the seacoast summer with their fifth annual Wild Vibes Yoga Festival on July 1st at Spring Hill in South Berwick. A festival focused on bringing people back to...

Cost: $15-$65

Where:
Spring Hill Farm
117 Pond Rd
South Berwick, ME  03908
View map »


Sponsor: Wild Vibes Festival
Contact Name: Magnolia Barrett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags