Who do I want to be in this situation?

Welcome to the Radical Self-Care for Radical Action blog series. This series serves as a multigenre and strategic compilation of ways to avoid or heal activist burnout. During this new era, we need to keep activism and social justice efforts continuous and sustainable; we cannot afford burnout. While burnout and activism have had close relationships to one another, so have healing practices and social change methodologies. Every week, both leading up to and following the inauguration of a president that has Cortisol levels running high for many, expect a post on what it means to heal oneself in order to heal a country. From neuroscience to yoga to meditation to cardiology, learn how to systematically refuel in these trying times.

liz.pngI felt personally asked the question on the left when I read a Facebook post by author Elizabeth Gilbert that reached 1,684,931 people. She wrote of her and her partner’s election night experience:

So we got really quiet that day, and we each asked: “Who do I want to be in this situation?”

The answers came, same as ever:

Calm.

Strong.

Open-hearted.

Curious.

Generous.

Wise.

Brave.

Humorous.

Patient.

That is the only question that EVER really matters.

I insist that we can learn — with practice — how to choose our emotional state in all situations. This has to be true. If this isn’t true, then we are TRULY AND THOROUGHLY FUCKED — because our state of being is literally the only thing in this world that we can control.

This is not denial. This is not complacency. This not me cheerfully saying, “Oh well! I’m sure everything will be fine!” Sometimes things are not fine. Sometimes the diagnosis is terminal cancer. Sometimes the dark forces win. Sometimes the outcome is dreadful.

But all our practices in peace and grace and equanimity and courage are for TIMES LIKE THESE — for times when you do not get the outcome that you want. This is when it matters. When the shit goes down, and the shit goes wrong, and when the shit gets real — that’s when the shit gets interesting. That’s when the test comes: Who will you be now? Right now. Right this moment. Because that’s the only part that is up to you.

Decide who you will be today, Dear Ones. RIght now. DECIDE. You can do this. This is what all your training and practice has led you to. Show the people around you what a calm and peaceful strong mind looks like. (Trust me, they need it. They already know what a panicked mind looks like; show them what a calm mind looks like.) Ask yourself again and again who you want to be, and believe that you can be it.

Nobody gets to take your emotional state away from you, unless you give it to them.

This is how you lead. This is who you are. This is how you BE.

12 hours before, during election night, I saw a fellow yoga teacher’s Facebook post:

so far i’ve stress eaten handfuls of organic frosted flakes, piles of chips and salsa, and too many squares of dark chocolate. my belly hurts {and so does my heart}

This post had 183 likes and more than 42 comments detailing similar election night experiences. When it came time for me to write a post of my own, a few hours after I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s, I was exhausted and could not have told you what I’d eaten that day. My hair was greasy, and my vision blurred in and out of focus.

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