Elevate Others, Empower Yourself
My tag line, “Elevate Others, Empower Yourself,” is my advice to everyone who is working to make our world fairer, safer and more peaceful. For me, this is more than my professional catchphrase - it has become my eleventh commandment. This simple phrase dictates that we do two things: help others (whether or not we know them) AND advocate for and take care of ourselves. Social change advocates are quite good at elevating others and, too often, less focused on empowering ourselves. There is an endless amount of work to do, and once one victory is achieved, it’s on to the next challenge. It is possible to do nothing but work and sleep, and still feel behind the eight ball.
Moreover, social change advocates are at risk for feeling guilty if they have fun while those they help continue to languish in poverty, suffer discrimination for merely being who they are, endure brutal treatment on factory farms, and other horrors that humans commit. How dare we laugh when there is so much misery? What gives us the right to relax when so many others don’t have that option?
Here is the answer: those we help need us to be at our best. We are human, not robots, and to not take care of ourselves leads to increased stress and even burnout. When we are depleted emotionally or physically, we seriously diminish our ability to be useful to others. This is why flight attendants instruct us to put on our oxygen masks first so that we can assist our children, even though our instinct is to sacrifice ourselves, if necessary.
So, please, all you do-gooders out there, live it up and laugh out loud. Chill. Have a delicious meal. Take a walk, hike or run outdoors. Hug your loved ones, both two-legged and four. It’s the best thing for you AND it’s the only way you can sustain your mission of helping others.