Beating Burnout

The odds often feel impossible.  Radicals and progressives are working on a myriad of issues and often little progress seems to be made and even more sadly it seems like we are going backwards on important issues (campaign finance reform in the US jumps to mind and if my reading of the real motivation for much of the tea party movement is correct, we appear mired in our racist attitudes as well).  Sean Peters and i have been chatting in the comment section of my recent post about Snarking at Forbes inspiring activists and how to beat burnout.

I’ve talked to lots of people who do political work, often in headachy or lonely circumstances and there appears to be an especially powerful antidote for burnout: appreciation.  When people are drive to do what they are doing for principally ethical or political reasons (rather than personal or monetary ones) what they need most is recognition.  This need not be a plaque or a tribute event, simply well-chosen kind words or an unexpected email can be sufficient.  It gets back to the idea that we collectively dont write enough love letters, using the broad definition of love letters.

My favorite exercise to prove this in the Honest Seduction workshop is to ask participants to think of the person who they appreciate most who they have not well expressed this too.  It need not be someone who they are romantically attracted to.  And write them a short letter of appreciation and acknowledgement.  After they have completed this task, i ask them if it is the case that the world will be a better place if this letter is sent.  The recipient will feel seen and respected, the author of the letter will be more fully expressed and complete in their communication.  Everything is better.

So consider this homework assignment.  Spend a few minutes thinking of someone who does political work which inspires you, but you have not really fully expressed it.  Write them something thanking them for this.  DONT fell like you need to be comprehensive in your praise, this will prevent the letter from getting finished.  Give yourself 20 minutes, and when you are done, just send it.  I am going to do it now.



About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

4 responses to “Beating Burnout”

  1. paxus says :

    I’ll do the first part of my homework here.

    Dearest Pax,
    Thank you for inspiring me in so many ways. I love your commitment to progressive causes, to ending nuclear power, to being an ally and a cheerleader for so many people and projects. I love that you take risks and inspire others to do the same. I love that you make mistakes and do your best to own them, and that you give me homework assignments, even if you are a tough grader.
    With deep appreciation,

  2. paxus says :

    Dearest Abigail:

    You know i love your work. i love that you continue to do this long distance romance, even tho it is something of a logistical nightmare.

    And today i especially love that you pretend to be me when you are writing appreciative comments about me.


  3. paxus says :

    Hah! The trouble I could cause impersonating you! I guess I should find a way to log out, eh? – A

  4. tina says :

    dear pax,
    i deeply appreciate all the activism work you do and how thoroughly you report it to all of us who are not so ín the loop! i find you to be my most attractive political activist! and i mean that sexually as well…. peace and love from ecuador! tina
    hey! did you know i got arrested for midwifing recently? and then i was officially censored by the govt here, almost deported! i am getting my citizenship finished up, well, as soon as i can afford the fees- and running for office. always swore i would never do it again, but… miss you all. great photos!

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