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For the past few weeks I have been getting involved deeper and deeper in animal welfare. At first I was mostly in a state of shock by all the horrific tales and pictures of poor animals being tortured or killed or abandoned. I started having nightmares, then just could not sleep. Then the systematic street shooting of stray dogs and poisoning of stray cats made me very, very angry.
I started sharing horrific pictures of blood-spattered corpses of these animals on Facebook. I started writing incensed posts, then long articles, pouring my shock, revulsion and frustration at the inability to stop all this.
Over the past few weeks I have discovered that all those working in animal welfare have a very high rate of burnout. Now I appreciate why. The work is all uphill. There are so many adverse circumstances surrounding this issue as to make it seem impossible. But I have also discovered that those working in that field are mostly highly dedicated animal lovers who keep trying to save as many lives as possible facing practically insurmountable odds. For each life you save so many others are lost it is heartbreaking.
After writing a couple of articles and several posts I found that my anger and frustration are mounting not diminishing. This is a problem. My mood is turning bitter, my frustration is intensifying and my temper is getting shorter by the minute.
Talking to a wise friend she pointed out that energy perpetuates itself. This struck me as so true in my case. Before I got involved with animal welfare I used to write articles about my cats and dogs that depicted their characters, tricks, antics and behaviour. They were little entertaining pieces that I enjoyed writing, and which my friends enjoyed reading. Now I am so angry and frustrated I feel my words turning into bullets or sharp knives. I hurt and am probably carrying this pain over to my readers as well.
This gave me pause for thought. Am I really handling this situation well? Am I taking the right approach? Will this work for me and for the cause I am fighting for in the long run?
Energy perpetuates itself
What kind of energy do I really want to send out? Will the spreading of those horrifying pictures of mutilated and dead animals send the right message? My friends now tell me they are skipping my pictures, they cannot take it anymore. Others say they are becoming desensitised to the horror and it no longer affects them as it used to. So if this method is no longer working, or worse still is becoming counter productive, then I really have to rethink my approach.
What is the message I want to send out? What is the energy that I want people to feel when I push the case for animal welfare? What I have been doing up till now is stamp the horror and revulsion of inhumane acts, and thus subconsciously leave a feeling of horror and revulsion. This is so far from what I want, it is self defeating.
So, turn a new leaf.
The feelings I want to generate in people about animal welfare are feelings of love, care, warmth and wellbeing. So the approach has to be totally different. The feelings that should be invoked should be sympathy and affinity to the cats and dogs, not revulsion and horror. How do I do that? Simple. Go back to my stories about my pets, and thank God for all of them. I have eight dogs and four cats who are a never ending source of material for my articles. They are forever getting into trouble, extricating themselves, and by doing so supplying me with endless hilarity by their antics that I could never run out of material for my articles.
So from now on the tone will differ, the approach will change. I shall go back to the positive, the loving, the funny. After all you catch more flies with honey!
Positive energy generates positive energy and perpetuates it. It is what I personally need for my own health and peace of mind, and quite frankly, I think it would be more attractive to those not involved with animal welfare and more informative. In the long run people are more interested in reading about something that makes them feel good, and once they are interested, automatically their sympathies will grow for those they read about.
I should have listened more carefully to a cousin who a couple of weeks ago was telling me that she is now quite involved in the lives of my pets and looks forward to my next article about their progress and their adventures.
Moreover, these are the type of articles that I enjoy writing most.
Thank you my wise friend about the energy, and thank you my cousin for showing me the way.
3 February 2016