Impact and empathy.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been tidying up my social media feeds.
I have been getting clearer on the scale of impact I want to have.
I have been defining the limits of the empathy I am able to maintain for the various causes and people I’m connected to online.
While I would like it if I could care about and speak to every issue that’s facing our troubled world, I cannot. I lack both the time and the resources for this to be possible.
There’s simply too much information to process.
Not only that, the more I tried to stay up to date and informed about what was happening in the digital social circles I was a part of, the less I cared.
The more hopeless I felt that we could make our way out of this mess.
The number I felt when hearing stories of suffering and destruction. The less I reacted to violent images and videos.
The more anxious I felt about just how little impact I was capable of having.
So I audited my online feeds and unfollowed a bunch of accounts. Where there were personal ties involved, I made a conscious commitment to skip over certain stories and posts.
With these new boundaries came the feeling of relief.
Now I can focus on the issues I can impact. On the people I can empathize with. In the real world and online communities I can participate in regularly.
Now I can care deeply about the important work that other people are doing without having to get involved in it.
Because maybe if we focus more intently and with more empathy on the small ways we can heal ourselves and our world, then collectively we’ll make a difference.
Which means being clear about the type and scale of impact you want to have.
And being clear on the human limits of your empathy.
And putting in place the boundaries you need to show up regularly to do your best work.
The alternative is to live in a perpetual state of overwhelm and to contribute nothing because you’re too weighed down by options to decide how you want to act.
So, how are you holding impact and empathy in your work?