A woman is arrested during the vigil for Sarah Everard (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty)
This blog post invites you to take a look at where you personally can take action to make an impact. We want to support you to feel more empowered to make change happen, especially if you have been feeling overwhelmed by it all and disconnected with the isolation of this past year.
As we spend more time at home, increased time on screens, perhaps watching the news and engaging in social media more often than usual, we’re exposed to more and more information about things happening out of our reach.
Just this week in the UK we started on monday with International Women’s Day being celebrated followed by public outrage the day after at a woman of colour speaking out against racism as many rushed to belittle and invalidate Meghan Markle’s experience of feeling suicidal.
Next came the devasating news of Sarah Everard’s murder by a police officer leading to women across the nation opening up about the very real fear we carry of men. Which for some absurd reason (the patriarchy) ended up with the hashtag #NotAllMen trending and a bunch of men whining about how unfair it is they’re getting tarred with the same brush as the big bad monsters.
Reality check: a man’s bruised ego has nothing on women fearing for our lives and often it isn’t the stranger in the bushes it’s men we know. LET US SPEAK. We need all men to help fight this endemic male violence against women.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we then had to watch women peacefully mourning at a vigil for Sarah – and for all women who have lost their lives to male violence against women – get manhandled by police, held down on the floor and handcuffed.
On the same day, 13th March, it was the 1 year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder by police in the USA who raided her home when she was sleeping and shot her dead. This happened because she was Black. To this day no one has been held accountable and charged.
Stuck at home we can feel helpless, frustrated, useless.
There is so much that needs changing and sometimes we can feel crushed by the weight of it all, particularly those who have faced oppression or trauma related to race, gender, sexuality or other defining identities that can be discriminated against. It can feel like a big, overwhelming tangle of intersecting forms of injustice all overshadowed by the impending doom of climate change.
Stuck at home we can feel helpless, frustrated, useless. We can feel anger at the world leaders neglecting the needs of the people. We might shout about our distaste for government policy on social media, rant in forums, but feel like we’re not actually doing anything.
If you’ve felt this anger, this fire in your belly, along with the overwhelm and feeling of hopelessness that you can’t change anything then you’re not alone. There are more and more groups online mobilising, educating and fighting to change public policy. Simply by connecting with other individuals or organisations online, showing your support, you’re contributing to the movement.
Ready to turn that fire in your belly into action?
Then this is for you! We recommend taking an intentional block of time to really get into this exercise we have created to help you get clear on your own sphere of influence.
It’s easy to feel like you’re not contributing to society when you’re either stuck at home, seeing hardly any people and monotonously making the trip from your bed to your desk or going out to work through the pandemic without any of the usual supportive structures in place for your well-being. Many of our goals, dreams and spaces for community connection have been put on pause whilst we watch the world crumble from our screens.
Here, we want to introduce Ikigai, a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” Together these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose. When the world is so broken and the societies under which we live are rooted in injustice, we think our purpose is to challenge existing power structures.
Ikigai has a few essential qualities that separate it from the “follow your passion” truism as we conceive of it in Western culture:
- It’s challenging. Your ikigai should lead to mastery and growth.
- It’s your choice. You feel a certain degree of autonomy and freedom pursuing your ikigai.
- It involves a commitment of time and belief, perhaps to a particular cause, skill, trade, or group of people.
- It boosts your well-being. Ikigai is associated with positive relationships and good health. It gives you more energy than it takes away.
We’ve created our own version of the Ikigai diagram so you can have a go yourself. Use this activity to suit your current needs, this isn’t a one-size-fits all process. The point is that we all have unique strengths to contribute to movements for change and focusing on your own area of expertise will help you to make an impact in the most effective way. When you’re clear on the unique contribution you can make, you’re more likely to take action and less likely to sit in apathy feeling crushed by the weight of it all.
We recommend copying the circles out in your own journal and spending 1 hour brainstorming and taking notes on each question. Then narrow down to one clear answer for each, finally completing the centre of the diagram with your ‘Ikigai’. Which can be a career move, a daily practice, a social action or whatever else you come up with!
– What are you good at?
– What do you love?
– What does the world need?
– What can you be paid for? (optional extra, afterall we need to eat whilst working to change the world!)
An example could be that you’re good at photography, you love being part of mobilising groups for environmental impact and the world needs photos of climate action protests to bring these important stories to the forefront. The optional extra could be getting a job as a journalism photographer or maybe photographing protests becomes more a part of your off-work activism.
Or maybe you’re good at listening, you love making people feel supported and are passionate about creating safe spaces for women. The world needs helplines for women to call who are escaping domestic violence. So you train up as a volunteer answering the helpline at a local women’s shelter as “what’s mine to do”. The possibilities really are endless.
How will you make an impact?
“Our personal and collective grief is palpable. Things are and will continue to be chaotic, and increasingly so. But amidst all this chaos and uncertainty is an opportunity. All the oppressive systems and institutions as we once knew are slowly beginning to crumble. Everything is being burned to the ground so that we as a collective can rise renewed.”Rachel Ricketts
This blog post was adapted from the Fire chapter in our Work From Home Well-being Program. To find out more about our 5 part self-study program with systems & practices to support & resource you then head on over to our program landing page here.
One way we try to make an impact within our own sphere of inlfuence is to continue our community led non-profit work such as running fundraisers to support essential women’s services in the UK and Brazil. We also dedicate volunteer hours via our business to NGOs that need support so do get in touch if you know a project we could work on in a voluntary capacity. On top of that we use our blog as a place to challenge existing power structures and our whole business is founded on principles of sustainability, community and intersectional feminism.
Share in the comments ways you have found to use your skills for change. Thank you for reading!
- Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World by Michelle Cassandra Johnson
- Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Practice by Susanna Barkataki
- An Inspiring Project: The White Pube take over billboards to address systematic injustice in the art world
- Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy by Rachel Ricketts
- Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
- Find a job in climate activism: Climatebase Job Forum
- Support & find out more: The Climate Journal