Burn-out is a very serious problem in the animal rights
community. Every day we deal with the atrocities committed against
animals. Whether it is trying to find a product that was not tested on
animals or just watching a co-worker eating a hamburger, we are dealing with
animal abuse on some level. We know the horrible background behind these
seemingly insignificant events, and many times it becomes overwhelming.
So, how can a person continue working on behalf of animals when it demands so
much emotional energy? I have developed a few of my own "tricks of
the trade" that I would like to share.
It is vital that we
do not let ourselves get overwhelmed. The animals need us desperately, and
by not caring for ourselves we are doing them a great disservice.
Take action - any
action. Doing something for the animals gives you a great sense of
accomplishment. Even writing one single letter on an issue that
really touches you will make you feel that you have helped to make a
difference - because you have! See the Activism section of this site for some easy ways to help animals.
Don't carry the
weight by yourself. You do not have to single-handedly bring down the
meat and dairy industry. If you write only one letter, congratulate
yourself for doing that much - don't criticize yourself for not having
written more. Trying to do everything at once only exhausts you.
"feel good" file. Cut out inspirational quotes, really funny
cartoons, extra-cute animal pictures, whatever. Put them all in a file
or notebook and then look through them when you need a boost. It is
surprising how much a really funny cartoon can change your mood!
Visit the Bizarro
website to check out some great animal rights cartoons!
Spend time with a
like-minded friend. If you don't have one, make one! Join an
animal rights or vegetarian group, or go to an online a.r. or veg chat
room. You don't have to stop hanging out with your meat-eating
friends, but sometimes it really helps to talk to someone who understands
exactly what you are going through. Once, a guy I didn't really know
that well called me out of the blue and vented for 15 minutes about
people's insensitivity towards animals - then said good bye. He just needed
to get it off his chest and none of his other friends would have
understood. (By the way, we are good friends now.)
You don't have to try to be
100% vegan. It is simply not possible. I try to focus on what
makes a difference to the animals. Obviously not eating meat, eggs and
dairy products makes a BIG difference to the animals. Their lives
literally depend on it. (Please read Why
Vegan if the egg and dairy connection doesn't make sense to you.)
But how much is the meat & dairy industry really profiting from the
Myristal Ether Sulfate in your shampoo? (Particularly since Myristal
Ether Sulfate can be derived from either plant or animal origin.) I am
NOT saying don't read ingredients, or that you should buy things that
clearly have animal-derived ingredients, but don't let yourself be consumed
by minutiae. Keep in mind that you are setting an example for
non-vegans. The harder it looks to be vegan, the less people will be
open to trying it.
companion animal. You have made a huge difference in his or her
life. Enjoy the rewards of their affection.
break. Don't feel guilty about treating yourself to a vacation or a
"week off" of animal rights issues. You don't have to
be 100% focused all the time. Which leads me to...
Give yourself the
luxury of not being outraged. I caught myself getting upset over a few
animal-related things in the Harry Potter books. (How very
un-vegan to add eye of newt to a potion! Must they curse that spider??) Umm, LET IT GO, Kari.
Smile. Visit the Bizarro
website for great animal rights cartoons!
Visit a farm
animal sanctuary! Talk about renewing your enthusiasm - this is, in my
opinion, the very best way to do it. You get the chance to see the
happy endings to all of your hard work. Check out my
pics from a recent visit to the New York Farm Sanctuary.
Let's face it - we are
dealing with seriously depressing issues. We must be kind to ourselves so
we have something left to give to the animals.
If you think you are too small or insignificant to have an effect, you obviously
have never gotten into bed with a mosquito.