What happens when you make a conscious decision to put yourself in a difficult and uncomfortable situation in order to help fight against injustice? You most likely know that this will be a difficult experience for you and that you will come across people who upset you, and situations that possibly devastate you. However, it is almost impossible to do good in this world without experiencing these negative things. But that doesn’t mean that you should cast all of your care for yourself aside. Below, Peer Educator, Jorge shares his ideas about how you can cope with the difficult aspects of being an activist.
Coping in Activism
by Jorge Roque
In today’s day and age there are many forms of activists and different kinds of activism they choose to dive into. In the last couple of years there has been an increase of movements to combat the injustices seen throughout the world. From Black Lives Matter combating racial injustice and police brutality to the survivors of the Majority Stoneman Douglas High School shooting fighting for strict gun laws. In all, a similarity between all these forms of activism is that many dive into their movements and fight until they experience burnout. While working in activism movements it’s important to take care of your health in order to continue the work you do.
It is important to develop safe coping skills that help you continue the work you do in and around your community. The following are going to be some safe coping skills you can practice to try to ensure your safety while fighting the injustices of the world.
- Leave a Bad Scene: When things go wrong, get out. When things begin to fall apart or escalate out of control, it is better to leave than to get caught in the rubble of the aftermath.
- Cry- Being an activist can be frustrating and overwhelming when you feel that change is taking a lifetime. Crying can help release the tension that builds up.
- Choose Self- Respect: Choose whatever will make you like yourself tomorrow. This may sometime be taking the higher road when facing backlash from other organizations.
- Set a boundary: Say “no” to protect yourself. Whether it be declining to an event or a situation that puts your safety at risk or if it is setting boundaries with certain people or groups.
- Remember the Cause: Remember the reason(s) that you are doing the things you do. This can help in motivating you to keep pushing through the tough times.
- Pace Yourself: If overwhelmed, go slower, if stagnant, go faster. If you need to take time off then do so. If you feel that nothing is being done, take initiative.
- Ask for help: Reach out to someone safe. Create that support system that will help you in and out of your work. No one changes the world all on their own.
These are only a few safe coping skills that you or someone else you know can take part in while being activist. Now these are not the only things you can do to ensure your safety while out fighting social injustices. These are only a few to help you not only remain physically safe but also mentally.