Are you an animal activist or rescuer who’s been repeatedly told you’re ‘too sensitive’ for caring about animals? You are not alone.
One of the Universe’s little ironies is that the most sensitive among us are the ones tasked with doing one of the most difficult jobs…protecting the animals.
Yet this very same sensitivity—the gift of the ability to empathize, to put ourselves into the shoes, hooves, or paws of another being—puts us at greater risk for pain, depression, and immense suffering, whether we are following through with our chosen mission or not.
There are four hurdles to be overcome in working for the animals which can prove especially challenging to the sensitive soul.
1. Overcoming the Fear of Taking Action
Sensitive folks believe they’ve come to this planet to make a difference. When that difference is scary, such as advocating for animals left out on chains, animals that end up on peoples’ plates, or animals that are used for the amusement of humans, the fear—real and imagined—is amped up accordingly.
There exists the possibility that when one stands in the face of violence against animals, jail, physical and emotional harm, or even death can result. To the sensitive soul these confrontations with amoral people loom large and menacing.
The probability of failure is high, and even when there are successes to tide you over, the greater likelihood is that there remains a continued chance of defeat in each mission you undertake. Those who are sensitive take these failures more personally, believing that it’s all their fault—and just maybe they are not good people—if they can’t succeed.
2. Overcoming Debilitating Pain for and on Behalf of The Animals
For those of us who love animals, the thought of eating them, chaining them, caging them for our amusement, and the host of other uncurbed cruelties that abound out in the ‘real’ world cause us intense emotional discomfort.
We feel this pain on behalf of the tortured souls—as if we are experiencing it AS them—AND we feel this pain on behalf of our own tormented spirits, forced to witness the cruelty and feeling helpless to stop it.
Overwhelming anguish leads to depression, avoidance of the reality we face, and—worst case scenario—suicide.
When we are in such intense agony, it is very hard to act on behalf of the animals. All we can focus on is our own suffering and how to ameliorate it.
3. Overcoming Obstacles and Putdowns by Bullies and Authorities
Sensitive people by and large don’t fend off criticism as well as their neighbors and co-workers. Because they are so easily-affected by the putdowns of others, they struggle to place the far-flung words into perspective, to realize those who are directing abuse at them are really showing themselves for what they are: bullies. To the overwhelmed thought pattern of the empath, the putdowns becomes more proof that they must somehow be defective.
They have a harder time standing up to authorities—even though their moral compass is strong—because the desire to avoid conflict and an inherent kindheartedness is a large part of who they are. As such they are often mistaken for weak by those who bulldoze all those standing in their path.
4. Overcoming Defeat and Getting Back Up to Fight Again
Once a sensitive soul is down, it becomes all too tempting to roll over and play dead. They bury themselves in depression, alcohol, pills, food, TV-watching, internet surfing, or other activities that are self-defeating and don’t forward the mission of advocating for the animals.
Everyone on the front lines needs a break from time to time. Animal advocacy is a very difficult and soul-draining process, especially for those who are empathetic enough to fight on behalf of the animals.
There also comes a time in every activist or rescuer’s career when her front line days are over, she’s served her time, and she can then be of service to the cause as a mentor to others.
Ascertaining at which point on the spectrum the sensitive soul currently sits is an ongoing process, but overcoming a sense of defeat enough to stand and fight another day is a highly-commendable—and possible—goal.
Exactly How Does the Sensitive Soul Overcome These and Other Obstacles to Animal Activism?
Sometimes the most sensitive among us are surprisingly inept at inner reflection and strength-building. Most have suffered intense childhood wounding by their families of origin, and carry this pain into adulthood, mistakenly assuming they are stuck dragging it after them for life.
But our very ability to look deep, to release old, stuck issues, can make the difference in overcoming the obstacles and creating a new reality for ourselves.
Often a childhood fraught with animal abuse brings about the very desire to make a difference for the animals as adults, and letting go of the pain and blame from childhood will go a long way toward giving us the strength to stand tall for those we are now tasked with protecting.
There are a myriad of ways to let go, and there is no wrong way as long as it works for you. Just start exploring the infinite possibilities. I recommend reading “The Four Agreements” if you haven’t already done so, and take its lessons to heart. The agreements are simple yet profound, and the book is short and perfect for multiple readings—as you’ll find it easy to forget what you’ve learned and fall back into childhood patterns.
I’ve become a fan of and use tapping, aka EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), for myself and my clients, as a solid means by which to free negative emotions and build a strong inner core through drawing the positive into your life.
To teach yourself tapping (one of the reasons I love it is that you can totally teach it to yourself), visit the founder’s website and go through the lessons. You won’t regret it. http://www.emofree.com.
Below is a video to get the sensitive souls among us started in overcoming obstacles today. Tap along and you’ll start releasing a little of that pain and negativity within the first 15 minutes!
Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Mr. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.