When you have a save the world complex, it’s important to watch for the following pitfalls:
- Being angry at people who seem to be obtuse about the suffering of others. Everyone has a protective layer that keeps them from being heartbroken over the myriad of injustices and suffering surrounding them. In some folks; the layer is several feet thick. Sometimes it’s almost as if they blame the sufferer for hurting. Try not to get angry, dear ones. They may be battling their own demons—like assholery and callousness. Remember that anger impedes the work.
- Mistaking the save the world complex for the savior complex. You’re not here to help the professional sufferer—they’re actually quite attached to wallowing in their pain and unless you’re a professional therapist, run when you see yourself trying to make someone happy to no avail. It‘s their job to find their own happy, not yours. Being entangled with the chronically unhappy and dissatisfied takes away time from your work for social justice, intersectionality, economic equality, environmental action and education, and world peace. They suck up valuable time from the work. (And please, don’t think I’m talking about the clinically depressed—I’m talking about toxically unhappy people. Learn the difference. The clinically depressed needs help. The professional sufferer needs to be eased out of your life. Protect yourself and the work.)
- Looking at the work with too broad of a lens. It’s difficult when there’s so much work to be done to narrow your focus to the issues that feed your soul, but it’s important that you do so. You’ll feel better, like you’re making more progress when you focus. Because I’m in school and work full time, my focus is all over the place. I don’t really have time to set get my teeth into one or two issues, so I use what little time I have to calling my electeds over a ton of topics, writing thank you cards to people showing courage, trying to get the vote out by sending reminder postcards and giving money to various non-profits in need. Saying focused also helps you from getting burnt out by the sheer magnitude of the work to be done. I’ll be figuring out a process on how to narrow my focus and choosing which issues feed my soul this summer when school is over. (One more term!)
- Forgetting to take care of you. It’s imperative that you know that real self-care isn’t actually bubble baths, scented candles, massages and pedicures. Self-care is creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. Self-care is educating yourself, being mindful of your time, saying no and working on yourself and your own issues. Saving the world is taxing—mentally, physically and emotionally. The work demands that you keep yourself healthy in all those areas. Our community and the world desperately need more emotionally and mentally healthy people. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
I’m sure I’m forgetting many more pitfalls that are important to the work, but my body and my dog are telling me to move now. Hugs, love and light to all my fellow save the world peeps. We got this.
“Learn the difference. The clinically depressed needs help. The professional sufferer needs to be eased out of your life.”
This was a long-learned lesson for me. But once I got it, the signs were so clear on who to “help” and who to “let go”.
Great post. We can’t let these and other pitfalls deter or distract the work.
Nope. Working on myself and collaborating with others to create change in our world is the work I was born to do. Maybe we all were.