Integrated Responsability

If we can’t integrate the aspects we most want to change in ourselves and the world, we can’t accomplish any of it.

Integration is the key. If we can’t integrate the aspects we most want to change in ourselves and the world, we can’t accomplish any of it. There has been a lot of responsibilities we’ve had to take on in 2020, most of us weren’t ready to. Not only in our personal lives, but in what we have all been involved in continuing. The death of George Flloyd revealing the urgency to get behind Black Lives Matter, the steep rise in violence against women recognising we can’t remain silent, the state of our planet and its living creatures we have neglected for too long.

It is overwhelming. It’s a lot to digest, especially when we’ve got used to it being that way, with the many other priorities and distractions in our lives. COVID has changed that. We’re all in this together and we have to work together to get out of it.

But…

it’s also not possible for any single individual to take it on all.

When I’m not feeling in control, whether watching the news, seeing first-hand misinformation spread from people I care about, frustrated I’m no help to anyone being in this state, I start to unwind further. I self-blame, feel guilt, restlessness and overwhelm.

But that doesn’t free you from responsibility or having an ability to do something about it. It becomes about changing the perspective.

One of the clearest examples of this was the Yemen crisis. When more news started to be revealed about the largest humanitarian crisis and Yemen being on the brink of starvation, disease and death from war, I panicked.

I had been following what has been happening for years, but often found it quite hard, as beyond donations there wasn’t much I felt like I could do. I also had my own personal trauma’s with Yemen and war, having to flee from the civil war in the 90s after living there for years as a child.

The first day, I was an emotional mess but managed to still take action. I signed every petition I could, donated, reached out to influencers to speak to more people, challenged news channels, connected with others, wrote to my MP, but couldn’t shake the feeling it was going to amount to much change.

I knew this issue mattered to me. I knew more people would care if they could hear my stories of Yemen and why it was important to help.

What I was doing wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t be angry at people who didn’t want to listen, take more time off work or be productive when the emotions were this raw. I started to take space away from the media to learn what I could do that would work. It needed to integrate into my life somehow, demonstrate benefits for my efforts, be something simple enough I could maintain and maybe even later build on.

It took me a couple of months to ideate, speak with others, experiment and finally settle on the answer. A 24-hour fast every Monday, donating the equivalent of my average 3 meals a day to help feed Yemini children and sharing this each time I did on social media (primarily IG Vegnostic). This started to integrate things that were important to me without it being overwhelming, disconnected or unmeasurable.

In 20-weeks since I started, my #HelpYemen team on Share the Meal app has supported donating 2,916,188 meals to Yemeni children for 1 year (96% to reach our 3M target), my intermittent fasting has made me feel even more healthy and I feel even more connected to the Yemeni people with new and rekindled friendships. Through this process, I was healing and transforming by giving back in a way unique to me.

You can’t do it all, nor should you have to. But when you care, there are endless ways you can make a change. Find the meaning, add value in small ways you can and see the positive changes it brings to your life as well as others you may never know.