“Why activism isn’t really the cure for eco-anxiety” by Britt Wray

Note: This is an excerpt. To read the full article, click here.


As eco-anxiety and eco-grief have taken hold of society in new ways over the last few years, the tendency to prescribe action as a tool to beat the feelings back has grown. But climate-aware psychotherapist Caroline Hickman argues there’s a danger lurking in that sentiment. It’s a shortcut–a too-quick move from pain to action—and it threatens to leave people far less resilient and capable of facing the ecological crisis than they ought to be. …

The dread, malaise, grief, and fear that so many of us feel are reasonable stress responses to a real existential threat that is unfolding. On the contrary, if an eco-anxious person happens to speak with a therapist who is not “climate-aware”, they risk being told that they’re overreacting or catastrophizing, and will go home feeling many times worse. …

[Britt Wray writes elsewhere: “But climate and eco-anxiety are completely rational to feel. You do not need to embellish any of the science to feel your chest tighten. The body’s stress response to our unfolding emergency is simply the body doing its job. It is trying to keep you safe and tell you that something is deeply and terribly wrong, which you ought to mobilize resources in the face of in order to make your situation safer.”]

We must move away from the positivist psychological framing that sees some feelings as bad and some feelings as good. Despair and fear are not inherently bad. Hope and optimism are not inherently good. … There is meaning in every emotion. …

And herein lies why it is unhelpful to say that activism is the cure for eco-anxiety and eco-grief. … It refuses the painful process of integrating dark emotions into our life that emotional intelligence requires. …

We all need to process some of the anxiety, grief and depression that come with our life-threatening ecological reality, and learn how to fold them into our lives.


To read the full article, click here.

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

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