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We are all incredibly unique. We each have our own path, our own beliefs, our own actions that we are willing and unwilling to take. This is a beautiful thing, but it can also be frustrating.
It's the people we love and who we are closest to that drive us crazy when they aren’t taking the “right” actions. Usually it's because those individuals mean so much.
As we may know (or we hopefully will after reading this), anger and frustration will do little to change people's way of life.
So let’s think about how to act and how not act around those who take action differently, or even don’t believe in helping the earth at all.
Especially when we are being told how to live our lives.
We just want to see the people in our lives have a positive impact along with all the fulfillment and benefits that come with this new lifestyle.
But forcing that on people will have only the opposite effect.
Raise your hand if you like being told how to live your life?
Pressure one-way usually leads to push back in the opposite direction.
If you want to convince someone to act a certain way (whether they care about the environment or not) an amazing motivator is simply showing how your life has improved.
People will see you happier and more fulfilled because of you living in line with your values, and maybe even physically healthier because of the lifestyle these actions create.
Pro tip: this can be used even when debating something as tense as “is climate change real.” When we instead shift the conversation to “this lifestyle is helping you whether climate change exists or not”, the tension is suddenly...much less.
Have you ever listened to someone say something but it just doesn't resonate? No matter how much we want to feel it we just can’t.
Then one day, maybe months, maybe years, we hear it and actually feel it. It feels like our world just expanded and we are hearing it for the first time. Even though we’ve heard the exact same thing before.
We weren't ready to hear that up until this point.
We will be ready to hear and receive different things at different points in our lives. With this in mind, we can’t pass judgement and feel angry simply because someone may not be ready to receive something.
No matter how much pressure, information, or guilt trips are put on us, we will eventually arrive at a decision on our own.
This can be a very frustrating thing when we are with those who don’t seem to care. Or maybe they do, but their actions don’t show it.
(Which in reality, is all of our challenge isn’t it?)
But it can be also very liberating to know that focusing on example and living the lifestyle will have such a massive impact.
It’s so easy to get angry with those who don’t seem to care. This just means we care. But anger and frustration will just lead to more polarization and separation between us as individuals, as a society, and as a world.
Compassion, while so incredibly difficult in practice, is what we need now more than ever.
We are all hurting the planet, so at the end of the day when we are getting angry with others that is just our own insecurities reflected back at us. Those who seem off track from sustainability are those who need compassion the most.
Lead by example, shift the conversation to how you’ve benefited, remember that everyone is ready to hear things at different times, and choose compassion over anger.
If this is done more widely, the environmental movement and the world will be a much better place to be.