- Recognize that witnessing atrocities is the first step toward stopping them. We can’t change what we can’t see. As our director of education, Mary Pat Champeau, says, "We must learn before we can act, and the learning can be very difficult; but if our purpose is to cultivate meaningful lives and to change the world for the better, then what choice do we have but to keep putting ourselves in the way of new information?"
- Find someone else to read and watch with you, and process it together. Shared experiences are easier to bear, especially when you're able to talk, cry, rage, and discuss together.
- Express how you’re feeling through conversations, creative writing, blogging, journaling, or through the visual arts. It's damaging to our bodies and souls to stifle those darker emotions within ourselves, we also don't want to inflict the pain and anger we may be feeling on others. It's important to find a safe outlet, so that we can maintain our compassion.
- Focus on what you CAN do, rather than what you can’t. There may be a significant gap between the world you envision and the world that is, but we'll maintain a healthier, saner outlook and be much more effective changemakers if we focus on what our skills, passion, and circumstances enable us to do.
- Take occasional breaks from the problems. When we find ourselves despairing or feeling overwhelmed, it may be a good time to limit our exposure to the world's problems and to focus more of our time and energy on positive solutions and experiences.
- Engage in experiences that bring you joy, revitalization, and a sense of safety. If we're not healthy, happy, and balanced, then that will be reflected in our interactions with others and will hamper our effectiveness as changemakers. Take time every day to nurture joy and find places and experiences that make you feel safe and refreshed. Reconnect with people, animals, and the natural world to help remind yourself why you're doing this work.
If you're especially struggling with the darker emotions, try this book, which is recommended reading for all our graduate students: Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair by Miriam Greenspan (2004).
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