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Anguish To Action: The Right Way To Do It

Curled up in bed, outraged, spinning, crying, despondent, or terrified? Maybe you've felt all of these things in the last few days.

Those of us living near Highland Park may feel a new level of acute fear, anger, and depression. We may also realize that the kind of fear parents in some neighborhoods of Chicago experience daily is intolerable, and we feel guilty that we haven't been outraged enough about that.


1) Don't let your fear and anger spin you into an unorganized ball of rage and then show up at non-profit activist meetings trying to change everything. Take a beat.

2) Don't yell at your friends and family or accuse people of not doing enough before you've done an honest assessment of yourself and your actions.

3) Don't ignore your feelings.

4) Don't assume that one big, heroic act on your part is going to fix the problem. It will take a million little acts, sustained over a long period of time.


1) Let yourself feel the anger, anguish, fear, depression. Go through it fully. Journal, read, rest. Take a few days to go through this, reflect, and recharge. The problems aren't going to go away while you do this. They will still be there when you are calmer and clearer.

2) Work through the Social Change Ecosystem map and workbook (click on the image at the bottom which will then open a PDF doc). This will help you identify where you can be of service and help you move out of a paralyzed, overwhelmed state. You can't do everything and you only have so many resources of time, emotional strength, and money. This framework will help you figure out how you can help consistently over a long period of time rather than in one short burst of anger and fear.

3) When you get to a meeting, honor the work that has been going on for years before you got angry enough to get involved. Listen, learn, and lend your gifts and talents.

4) Ask yourself what keeps you up at night. This will help guide you to what's deeply felt at your core. If we are going to give our time and energy to helping over a sustained period of time, we have to feel deeply connected to the cause.

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