Sarah Sheridan writes about her experience of The Inner Activist’s Building Strong and Respectful Relationships, held recently at The Haven. For more about The Inner Activist and upcoming programs visit inneractivist.com. This article was first posted on the Inner Activist blog.
During our week on Gabriola Island I kept a journal for keeping track of my many questions, reflections, and brainstorms. While rereading my journal, I noticed that I had repeatedly written about being tired.
To say that this past year was transformative would be to minimalize the effects of stress and anxiety that come along with burnout, leaving one’s job, and financial hardship. I’ve been working hard to grow both personally and professionally and Inner Activist training seemed like the perfect shift as my yearlong school program and leadership program had both come to an end. Building Strong and Respectful Relationships did not resolve my concerns or give me the answers that I was yearning for. Instead, it gave me a set of practices to use when I am solving my problems on my own.
Since returning home I’ve noticed changes in my thought process when faced with a decision. What is my intent? How can I best convey my opinion? Am I making space for others to join in? Why do I often distrust people in positions of power? Why am I upset about this?
The term “self-care” is very current but this practice isn’t new. What do you do to take care of yourself? Inner Activist provided a space for me to challenge myself, analyze my triggers, and give credit to my past year of growth. Our lives are full of coursework, bills, debts, appointments, jobs, taking care of our families, house cleaning, and so on. How often have I spent this much time writing, meditating, reflecting, discussing, listening, and focusing on my inner activist? On myself? The answer is never. I spend time riding my bike or swimming. I see my friends and watch movies. I do things other than work and volunteer. Yet, I have come to realize that I don’t spend much time “digging” into myself.
With the practices learned through my training with Inner Activist I am willing to slow down and respect the process. With that, I am reminded that I can’t rush personal development. I can’t expect to take a 5-day course and leave with answers to all of my questions. This week was difficult, yes, but necessary, very necessary.
My relationships with others depends on the relationship that I have with myself. And so the best way for me to enhance my relationships with others is to give myself the best care that I can which includes both giving myself credit when it’s due and also holding myself accountable for my actions.
For those working towards change, we often have feelings of criticism for the systems that we live under.We feel smothered by the work that lies ahead of us. We feel limited by finances, time, family commitments, and other obligations. The only way that I know how to sift through the struggles that continue to suffocate our movements is to take better care of ourselves so that we can continue to care for our communities within those movements. Inner Activist provided me a space to care for myself and to hold myself accountable. They provided me tools and language to use when building strong and healthy relationships. For this, I am thankful.
I recognize the privilege that I have by being able to take time away from home and doing this work on myself. And this was another thought that I carried with me throughout the week. Why should I have this opportunity and not others? This, however, is a question that, I expect, I will carry with me for years to come.