Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Advice for Social Activists: Respect Your Own Animal Rights

By Press Action

“The sooner we learn to recognize and respond to signs of stress and depression in ourselves and each other, the stronger our movements will become.” –Pattrice Jones, Aftershock

Activists of various stripes undoubtedly experience periods of burnout. Working long hours—typically without pay and little appreciation—on campaigns or issues where victories are few and far between can be demoralizing.

Some social change activists get so frustrated with the perceived lack of results from their hard work and the rampant apathy among the general public that they give up entirely and retreat from activism.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. “If you are burned out doing one thing, the alternative isn’t quitting activism. It’s just finding a different thing that you can do,” explained author, scholar and activist Pattrice Jones, speaking Aug. 4 at the Animal Rights 2012 conference in Alexandria, Va.


Activists would be well-served by embracing nonviolent communication. “Stop tearing each other apart,” Jones said. “We need to speak in ‘I’ statements. ‘I feel this. I feel that. I think this. I think that.’ Not ‘You did this. You want this.’”

“People should always avoid assuming they know what somebody else is thinking, feeling or being motivated by,” she said. “Keep your critiques to behavior, not presumed feelings, thoughts or motivations unless the person tells you that’s what they’re feeling, thinking or motivated by.”

“If we do these things, I really do believe we can sustain our own activism and also have sustainable movements,” she said.

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