How to deal with the overwhelming sensation that the problem is too big

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One asks himself how we can change the world, how to act and make a difference in matters that sometimes bring this overwhelming sensation that everything is beyond our reach.

In today’s globalized world, there is a growing sense of despair and dis-empowerment fueled by austerity, inequality, climate change, the sense of mass surveillance, disinformation and the increasing threat of war. All of them global issues, that are given a sense of urgency in order to tackle them in time. At the same time, all of them seem to be controlled by distant power structures over which we have little say…

When one wants to act but it’s confronted with this scenario, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, to feel fear and to feel helplessness.

The first reaction could be to give up and convince oneself he can do nothing. Although that might be an option, it isn’t always the best one.

Here are some things I remember myself when I get that feeling:

  1. Sometimes you have to accept what you can’t change. I don’t mean you have to accommodate or resign, you just have to understand that although you may have an Utopia, this Utopia will never be. As once said Fernando Birri, the Utopia will only live on the orison – every time you walk 10 steps to it, it will go 10 steps further way. And its OK, since it’s only there to guide you and make you walk your own path. If you are able to accept that, that the world will never be perfect, you’ll be abe to free yourself from the extra non-useful frustration and guilt. So, give up a bit the control of the situation and focus in what you can do in that particular moment and place.
  2. Do it only if you really want it. Never, ever, do activism because you feel somehow obliged to do it – it should be a source of enjoyment. Understand that although your activism might be useful for others, the only thing that is guaranteed is that it will tackle your own needs. Just acknowledging this will help you to deal with a lot of expectation.
  3. Remember you can act at 3 different levels: national/global, local, personal. Having in mind that one can act at different levels can help you put the problem in perspective, acknowledging it’s complexity and giving you more options to act.
  4. Don’t do it alone, find others and support each other. Get together with other people that you find inspiring. Find ways to support each other emotions and to review each other expectations.


Again, it is normal to feel this overwhelming sensation time to time. And it’s important to know that it will eventually pass. So, stop for a moment, review what you are doing, re-organize, talk with your peers, but don’t give up! Just take a deep breath, be patient and perseverant.

Think big, act little, have faith on us and, most of all, have fun. 🙂

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