Be The Change for Animals: Heal Yourself


I didn’t have a Blog the Change/Be the Change post lined up for today. Then the Universe kicked me in a not-subtle way, when a friend of a friend shared something on Facebook. That blog post, from a blog I don’t read and know nothing about, seemed so stunningly appropriate that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

Go read it. It’s short.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.–Thomas Merton

Compassion fatigue is a real thing. It’s especially pernicious in people who work with animals.

We can wear ourselves so thin trying to save the world that, ironically, we are unable to act. We perpetuate the violence of the world on our own selves, in ways both small and tragically, devastatingly large.

If all you can do today is to take care of your own animals, do that. Do it without punishing yourself. Do it with love. Let yourself find joy in it.

The bigger fight will still be there when you come back.


6 thoughts on “Be The Change for Animals: Heal Yourself

  1. Good point! My favorite part of the day is usually when I take my dogs out:) It is especially awesome since I work from home, I often get computer eyes and must tell myself it’s time to go out. It always helps!


  2. In the U.S., it’s a badge of honor to be incredibly busy more than it is to actually accomplish anything. Merton had a wonderful message (though I wonder if he followed it given his prolific writing, travel, and activism over a very short life).

    Sometimes people comment on my blog expressing regret that they’re not fostering dogs. But the purpose of fostering is to help provide happy, stable homes for dogs. And if someone is already doing that for a dog in need, they’ve made a tremendous contribution.

    “If all you can do today is to take care of your own animals, do that. Do it without punishing yourself. Do it with love. Let yourself find joy in it.”

    Maybe I need to turn your quote into my standard reply. It’s an eloquent and gracious statement.


    1. It’s something (or something like) what I say to myself. I can’t do a lot hands-on with dogs in need. We only have permission to have one dog. I am a blubbering wreck in animal shelters. So I write a check to a really great local animal group every month, and I try to help people (through this blog and other ways) with the pets they already have.

      Compassion is one of the things I believe in the most, but I think you have to direct just as much of it inwards as outwards. And in practice I don’t think that is as selfish as it sounds. You have to have something to give before you can give it.


  3. There is only so much each of us can do (clearly, some of us accomplish more than others. In the scheme of compassionate acts, I am not a big spender. Actor. Whatever.) I think it is important to be mindful of that, and be realistic of it, so other arenas of your life don’t suffer.

    It’s kind of wild that we have to give ourselves permission to do this, isn’t it? You’re absolutely right, though.


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