I’ve noticed that many multipotentialites seem to be extra-sensitive to the world’s problems and injustices.
I could speculate on why—perhaps straddling multiple spaces introduces us to more matters which are crying out to be fixed, or maybe we’ve had more practice at spotting ideas which have benefits across communities.
Either way, why doesn’t really matter. There’s a much more important question: when we’re drawn to alleviate pain and aid others, how can we have the most impact?
Unfortunately, we’re just one human
There’s an important first step in attempting to change the entire world: to recognize that we can’t.
I don’t mean to sound defeatist. But it’s important to set sensible expectations. Believing that we, personally, must fix all the world’s problems guarantees failure, and makes it harder to make the positive changes we could reasonably make.
Paradoxically, accepting the sheer impossibility of fixing everything is the only way we can start fixing anything.
This realism is a lesson I’ve needed to learn over and over. Left to its own devices, my brain sets wildly optimistic expectations for what I can achieve, and I flame out in an inevitable disappointment of attempting to shoulder responsibility for the entire world.
Feeling depressed into inaction
There’s a flip-side to this over-optimistic coin: fatalism—the belief that the world is already beyond redeeming, so “Why bother trying to change anything?”
At first, this appears to be the opposite of caring too much—but in reality this is where people land afterwards. It’s impossible to take a truly fatalistic position unless you cared about the state of the world on some level.
Those who actually don’t care, don’t care. They aren’t depressed by the world’s problems, they’re uninterested. The rest of us are mostly either inspired into action or depressed into inaction. (Or swing wildly between both.)
I’ve learned that it’s healthier to care… but not to invest so much emotional energy that it burns me out and pushes me into a fatalistic “why bother” place. I aim towards a better world without expecting to fully reach it.
“But, hold on, this cause is really (really) important!”
It’s hard to maintain a balance between taking action and taking care of our mental and emotional health. And it should be hard: people’s lives may depend on it! Shouldn’t I do as much as I possibly can?! If I were less lucky, and my life depended on the actions of others, wouldn’t I want my “supporters” to throw themselves fully into helping?
There are entire essays that could be written on the morality of sacrificing ourselves for a greater good, and I’m no expert philosopher. All I know is that these are questions that must be continually revisited. Superficially, the answers are simple: of course we should all do as much as we possibly can to help those causes that matter to us most. But also of course, we should look after ourselves, too.
No cause can progress if all of its adherents are utterly exhausted by it. Sometimes we have to give more than we can and sometimes we have to redress that balance by recharging. The important thing is to continually revisit that judgement call and do the best we can.
Pick your battles
Of course, multipods aren’t actually superhuman (despite our superpowers), and we only have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. As in the rest of life, we must choose what matters most, and factor in where we can have the most impact.
Some causes will be specific to your town, region or country. Perhaps there’s insufficient provision for the homeless, or your political system is corrupt (if you can imagine such a thing!), or a particular community is facing hardship. And some causes will be global: looking after our planet, working to end human trafficking, or expanding upon medical research.
The more scrupulous amongst us might have a tendency to feel guilty for not caring equally about everything. But it’s okay to give ourselves permission to pick our battles. Even the greatest of saints and activists presumably couldn’t care about literally every good cause! Try not to let guilt from one cause prevent you from doing what you can for another. If you care about it, that’s all that matters.
If you’re having trouble deciding which causes to pursue, it might help to spend a moment asking questions like: who needs help?, who do I feel drawn to protect?, and what impact can I have? There’s no right or wrong answer—each of us will be drawn to some needs over others.
See which ideas tug most against your emotions—it doesn’t matter if it’s an extreme reaction, as long as there’s some passion there—and see what little steps you can take to help. This can begin a virtuous cycle where taking action leads us to care more, which leads us to act more, which leads us to care more…
… And is that it? Everything solved?!
I’m not going to pretend that it’s possible to remotely solve all the problems of the world in a few hundred words. You couldn’t even list them, let alone start planning solutions.
But I find it heartwarming, and even vital to my hope, to remember that so many people share the same motivation to help others and make the world a better place. Hopefully together we can make a decent start.
Finally, Emilie has asked me to remind all of the American multipotentialites to please vote today. :)
How do you stay motivated to do good things, and what inspires you? Do you have any tips for looking after yourself as well as the world? Share with the community in the comments.