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Activism and Integrative Exploration: a Necessary Pairing



“I am really glad that I’m alive in this time,” client activist.

There is a special place in my heart for clients doing activism work while also attending to the oppressive structures of their inner world. They know that working through trauma *is* a form of activism.

I especially love that the newest generation of activists is likely one of the first generations that is savvy to the unsustainability of doing activism work without self-examination and somatic awareness. I love that these activists know that our psyches are powerful, and that most of our psyches are entrenched in the dominant oppressive narrative. I love that these activists know that If we as activists want to change systems, we have to look at our own internal systems and wake up to the resourcing in our bodies.  I love that they know that if they don’t take a look at their own oppressive dominant narrative, and how it is influencing their own self-talk as well as how they look at others, they will be feeding the same oppressive structure which they say that are wanting to dismantle. I love that they know that we must include somatic presence into our conscious attention if we are going to be sustainable change agents.

We as activists, for far too long, have said we don’t have time, or there are more important things to do, or that it’s a luxury or privilege to look inward and consider our own internalized trauma. And while it is a privilege, for many it is also privilege which affords us to do activism in the first place. (Thank goodness communities are starting to include trauma awareness into the community dynamics, making self-reflection and trauma work more accessible for everyone. Again, thank you new generation of activists!)  We’ve been willing to be in uncomfortable predicaments out in the world, but we haven’t been willing to be with the discomfort of our inner world/bodies. We have been willing to spend countless hours in potentially harmful situations, but we won’t spend time on how we might be moving from harmful places within ourselves.

We can say we want to dismantle racism, or shift patriarchy, or be inclusive (or, or, or) but if we aren’t aware of how the dominant oppressive narrative is dictating our self-talk and/or narratives and actions towards others, we’ll likely just be creating more harm, as well as burn out. The dominant oppressive narrative is dysfunctional, and guess what, so is a lot of activism because as Audre Lorde has taught us “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” We cannot disrupt dysfunctional structures or systems while being unconsciously run by the dominant oppressive narrative.

“I am really glad that I’m alive in this time,” client activist.  Oh hell yeah. Me too. Me too.

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