Working to make the world a more hopeful and sustainable place often means having to confront pain, suffering, crisis, and trauma head-on, day in and day out. Over months and years this takes an enormous emotional, psychological, and physical toll, one that we're often not even fully aware of until the day we feel like we just can't go on anymore. And our well-being and the work we're doing are too important to risk that happening.
This book is for all those who notice that they are not the people they once were or who are being told that by their families, friends, colleagues, or pets. Laura van Dernoot Lipsky takes a deep and sympathetic look at the many ways the stress of dealing with trauma manifests itself: feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, diminished creativity, chronic exhaustion, cynicism, and a dozen more.
To keep from being overwhelmed, we need to respond to suffering in a thoughtful, intentional way not by hardening our hearts or by internalizing others' struggles as our own but by developing a quality of compassionate presence. This is trauma stewardship. To help achieve this, Lipsky offers a variety of simple and profound practices, drawn from modern psychology and a range of spiritual traditions, that enable us to look carefully at our reactions and motivations and discover new sources of energy and renewal. She includes interviews with successful trauma stewards and even uses New Yorker cartoons to illustrate her points.