Coping with Overwhelming Feelings Inherent in Animal Welfare and Activism for Animals
Available on demand to listen to and read at your leisure
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WHO SHOULD ATTEND:
Animal welfare professionals, volunteers and animal activists who are exposed to the trauma of animals as they help them and who want to become more familiar with ways to cope with and heal from the overwhelming feelings that are inherent in this work.
Click here to read comments from class participants
CONTENT AND PURPOSE:
We are activists and advocates for animals because we are passionate about saving their lives and making the world a safer and better place for them. The work is long, often hard, and it is never done. By its nature it involves hearing about, reading about and sometimes directly witnessing horrific trauma for animals. This exposure to the animals’ trauma—often continual exposure—along with our passion, makes us very susceptible to an array of symptoms and feelings called compassion fatigue.
In this two and one-half hour telecless, we'll explore feelings that are common in this work such as a sense of helplessness, despair, anguish, grief, anger, anxiety, hatred, guilt, exhaustion and overwhelm. We'll look at the power of acknowledging, expressing and normalizing our feelings versus judging them. We'll work with tools to reduce the intensity of any emotions that may come up for us, and tools to process and release certain feelings rather than allowing them to become stuck inside of us, hampering our ability to enjoy life and to be effective advocates for the animals we love so much.
Outline of content is covered:
• The absolute “normalness” of having overwhelming feelings when working in animal welfare and activism
• Typical feelings we experience
• Understanding the energies and healing requirements for strong, intense feelings
• The Golden Rule of coping with and healing feelings from compassion fatigue
• Myths and facts about processing feelings
• What overwhelming feelings need
• TOOL: Helping the animals and ourselves when we feel helpless
• TOOL: The order in which we offer help makes a difference for the animals & us
• Understanding the Trio of Taboos: Anger, hate and not forgiving
• Becoming a “Spiritual Bypass Bubble Person” doesn’t help us or the animals
• More on hate, anger and forgiveness
• We must learn to be comfortable being both warriors and healers
• TOOLS to Calm the Heart: breathe; acceptance and self-talk; offering tender empathy, peace and love to our overwhelming feelings
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
As activists and animal welfare workers and volunteers you DO stand up and show your souls. The light of your souls shines for the animals and so many of them know it, see it, feel it and benefit from it. And you are so brave to use the energies of both fierceness and mercy, warrior energy and healing energy, for the animals. Don’t ever stop. The animals need us. And take the very best of care of yourselves as you do your work. You are as important as the animals. May this teleclass help you on your journey.
With great respect and much love,
Thank you so much for giving of yourself so clearly, informatively and eloquently! This information gave me more tools to cope with the sadness and overwhelm I still feel when I see posts on Facebook and receive emails from the many agencies trying to assist with the animals who have come across evil. For me one of the take aways that hit home on so many levels was your take on forgiveness. I have learned to accept some situations in my life as they are, without completely forgiving those who have caused harm, and I am good with it. But when I hear the whole “you must forgive to be at peace” thing, it makes me feel as though I need to work harder at something I’d really rather just leave as is. Or something is wrong with me or I’m bad for not completely forgiving. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me validation! Thank you so much, once again Teresa for all you do!
~ Annette H., California
I gained some useful skills and I feel like overall this bolstered my emotional intelligence.
~ Fannie S, Florida
Priceless tools are in this class! The exercises helped to calm me. The handouts are clear, help to follow the class and help to remember the practical things covered in class. Teresa's handouts are always a very valuable tool for her classes. the notes, the references strengthen all that I learn. They are also as valuable as a textbook to keep and keep going back to.
~ Linda K, California
So much info to put into my tool box on ways to cope with situations that I cannot help directly with: processing feelings, not ignoring them, not needing to buy into the spiritual bypass! Hearing that sometimes forgiveness seems to be all about the perpetrator, not the victim, also hit home with me. I will keep the handouts for future reference - the graphic of the butterfly trying to go up stairs with a rock tied to it is beautiful! And the graphic about finding your pod with the same purpose as yours is also a keeper! Love Teresa's voice and her intelligence and experience shines through all she says - yet with a deep spiritual undertone.
~ Rory H, California
I think absolutely everyone working in animal welfare could benefit from this course and any others like it. Compassion fatigue is an occupational hazard for us, and just like a miner wouldn't go to work without a helmet, we shouldn't go to work without the psychological "protective gear" that a course like this offers.
I am lucky I have a therapist who works well with me and has taught me a lot, but seeing some ideas presented differently and within the context of the work I do was extremely helpful--Pausing to breathe, being mindful of the fact that what I am doing is enough, how different feelings have different needs, taking care of myself when I need to - lots of ideas were very helpful for me to consider and I'll absolutely be able to apply them almost every day.
Understanding that we are continually experiencing trauma and therefore needing a continual approach was really significant for me; it means that I'm not failing if I continue to experience the same difficult things over and over, and that I shouldn't feel guilty about needing continual help and therapy to cope.
I think it covered so much in a short time that it was perfect. I can come back and read the slides and my notes whenever I feel overwhelmed, and knowing that makes me feel more prepared for the overwhelming feelings I'll inevitably have again in the future.
What really helped me during these exercises was realizing that I more readily give my love and empathy to others than I do to myself. And I realized that I was just as deserving as anyone else of those things, no matter what happens.
~ Molly W, Washington
It was wonderful It was not only very informative but also very healing. Thank you. When all participants all sent peace and love to the first volunteer, I felt peace and love within me. It was a beautiful experiment that showed both receiver and sender benefits, that helps everybody.
I so very much appreciated the information provided on forgiveness especially, along with other emotions. Forgiving somebody/something has been a "challenge" for me, personally. There is enormous "pressure" to forgive everybody else regardless of my own feelings or emotions. Also, who am I to forgive anybody than my own self??? It reminded me to acknowledge, honor, and heal my own feelings and emotions first. Thank you, Teresa. The call was very healing.
I have been reading sections of the materials. I love how Teresa helps us understand the spiritual approach and the human psychological/counseling approach. And, how they do not necessarily align perfectly. Thank you.
Throughout my whole life, until recently, I was taught to completely dismiss, ignore, and shutdown my own feelings and needs while serving everybody else's feelings and needs. I did not exist. I am learning to acknowledge and honor my own feelings and needs, so the exercises were perfect. They were wonderful reminders.
Teresa is always warm, loving, and understanding. I felt very safe during the class as usual. Thank you.
Regardless of one's profession or one's level of involvement with animals, the information and the techniques Teresa shares are extremely valuable and healing. I am so grateful Teresa offered this class.
~ Sally S, Nevada
Thank you so much for this amazing class, so well thought out, organized and expressed with so much love and compassion. You truly outdid yourself this time.
It confirmed various techniques and ideas I'd already had but perhaps wasn't sure about putting to use in quite this way, in addition to lending insight into many new ideas and a few specific techniques as well. I think the best piece of understanding that came from this for me was the idea that all of these feelings are OK (and should not be squelched!) - that they are part of being human!! Living in Norway, as I do, it's even more of a "crime" to feel /express anger and sadness. Grief is perhaps the most taboo. I have ended up in somewhat of a cycle of anger-to-guilt-to-anger-to-guilt many times in the past few years. Bless you, Teresa!
Various practical things in addition to general (and specific!) understandings.. but to highlight a few, "ordering" the way we help (setting the overwhelm to the side and focusing first and foremost on the animal who needs help) - this was a totally new idea for me, and soooooo logical. You explained it so well and it will really help me moving forward. Reminding me to use EFT (and to use it specifically on myself for the overwhelming feelings), Thirdly, again, the better understanding of the fact that anger, sadness, grief are ALL NORMAL!!! I really needed to hear that being surrounded by a culture that teaches people the opposite. Your grief course at ASN was one of the most valuable courses I've ever taken in my entire life, Teresa. It has helped me to deal with my own grief, and has helped many of my friends and clients here in Norway who have never learned anything close to what you teach. This class today was equally as valuable, Teresa, in just under 3 hours!! What a blessing to have you in this world, Teresa Wagner THANK YOU!!!
Nothing could make this class better, Teresa!! It was perfect :-)
~ Lauren O, Vestfold, Norway
Loved every bit of it! Reminder for self-care and different ways that can look. Hearing your perspective on how our individual work does make a difference for the animals, whether that's one or a million (and especially that making a difference for one is just as valuable to the one).
Great to look back at for reference. Also loved the additional resources provided. I especially loved the exercise of being present with and accepting our overwhelming feelings. That's hard for me to do.
~ Robin S, California
One of the practical things that will help me is the idea of the order in which we offer help.
When the exercise was done sending positive energy to someone--which was effective in less than a minute--that was very powerful! I recommended this class already, as any class ever taken with Teresa has been above expectation. She comes from a place of knowledge, and maybe even more importantly, love.
~ Donna K, New Jersey