Lately, I have been hearing a lot about the importance of working with emotions in sustainability.
In particular, that sustainable development depends on one’s emotional capacity to deal with the impacts of climate change and other difficult socio-cultural and environmental disasters. In other words, we need a sort of emotional resilience to be able to stay positive, pro-active and deal with climate change.
It has made me reflect on some of the typical reactions we have when we hear about the uncomfortable realities associated with climate change and other impacts:
- ignorance – the facts are wrong!
- depression/negativity – what can i do if it is already too late?
- apathy – doesn’t affect me!
- fear – head in the sand…another type of ignorance
These are reactions that make us freeze, and not do anything; continue as always and hope the issue will go away.
So what will help us be pro-active and take responsibility for our own actions?
Could it be emotions or being emotional? In other words, recognizing our emotions, accepting that we are emotional beings, expressing our emotions and working through them and supporting others to do the same.
Based on my previous experiences in sustainability, I do believe that there is some truth to this theory. There is a very personal piece of the sustainability puzzle that is related to a person’s beliefs, culture, and values. These some how shape our experiences: thoughts, feelings, wants…etc.
“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us.” Thich Nhat Hanh
I do think there is something key in the above quote… a need to look inside, in particular, about what is going on for me right now in my life, what do i really feel when i hear about negative impacts, and how does that make me act/react. What is it that motivates us to take action?
The root of the word emotion is to move. So perhaps emotions do have the potential to make us move and act for a more sustainable world.