You Won't Break My Soul: How to Keep Fighting When You Feel Defeated

How Beyonce captured a mood.
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The reality of mid-2022 includes record inflation, the pandemic rut and horrible, slavedriving bosses and when the internet got a taste of Beyonce's new music, "Break My Soul", there was at least something on Spotify to appease a burnt out soul.

While some doubt Queen Bey's ability to empathize with those who joined the Great Resignation, her first happy pop song in roughly a decade, begs the question: How do you keep fighting for change when there's darkness all around?

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"Our feelings do not make us less brave or strong or committed - only more human," activist and psychologist Meg Yarcia said, affirming the feelings of a comrade who opened up about the burnout they were suffering from as a development worker. 

In her Facebook page "Dear Meg", Yarcia has shown that even those on the frontlines of the struggle for progress have feelings of resignation, too, and it's from her musings as a "friendly Marxist psychologist" that one can pick a lesson or two about what it means to continuously fight for change in a world that appears to be moving backwards.

READ: LOOK: Youth Inherit Martial Law Victims' Fight for Justice

Learn to accept reality

Grief is a universal human experience, an emotional and physical response to significant loss. The emotions that come with it, even those that are difficult or unfamiliar, according to Meg, must be acknowledged.

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"We welcome them like house guests, with a cup of coffee, and a warm seat. Some of them were not exactly invited. But they are here, calling our name, and we will listen to what they have to say," she said, adding that it's from this "place of acceptance will spring our sense of control."

"We have to face the reality no matter how difficult it is to accept," 70-year-old activist Boni Ilagan had told reportr last week, as he and his fellow Martial Law survivors vowed to dedicate the rest of their days championning the memory of the past against all efforts to distort it. 

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If you're consumed by anger, let that anger fuel you, said women's rights activist Marevic Parcon. "Galit ang mga kababaihan noon sa pinaggagawa sa mga katawan ng babae and now we’re going back, we’re backsliding to that moment. Ngayon, galit pa rin. Dapat may galit kasi yun 'yung magfufuel sayo, kasi hindi ka dapat matatapos sa galit, kailangan mong umaksyon," she said.

"By recognizing and embracing our feelings, we give ourselves a better shot at understanding what we can do for them," Yarcia said.

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Rest if you must

The world can exhaust one in so many ways, and according to Yarcia, fighting back against them demands Zen.

"Rest is all the more important if you’re fighting for a new world," she said, noting that on a daily basis, the body has its way of keeping score of all the tensions one feels as they fight back against deeply entrenched systems and beliefs.

The body keeps track of trauma and becomes doubly alert alongside the brain, which is also trying so hard to make sense of what's happening, she added, noting how rest is how one can regain the stress they lose in this process.

According to Yarcia, one will have to develop good routines that help make struggles bearable.

This may include the practice of keeping still and staring at the void for at least 20 minutes, instead of replaying situations in your head or thinking too far ahead. One should also try and make a clear distinction between their work and rest areas in order to set better boundaries. 

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"To rest is not to give up. It’s precisely what we do to not give up," she said.

Remember, you are never alone

Fighting for causes you believe in can sometimes be lonely, especially in a country where millions of people seem to believe that going back to the way things were before is alright. 

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The key, according to Yarcia, is remember that the struggle to build a just society is a collective endeavor. Find your people, and draw strength from them, she said. 

"You cannot take responsibility for everything; that’s not how revolutions go. Just aim to do what you do really, really well, and trust that everyone else is doing their part, too," she added. 

As seen in history, movements that aim to push society forward suffer losses. But they also have victories, too, because otherwise, how else did society get this far?

As American author, activist Mariame Kaba once said:

"Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair".

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