When To Love Your Echo Chamber

There's something to be said for listening to other voices, especially if your goal is to be a peacemaker (not a peace keeper -- there's a difference) in this world. Stepping outside of our echo chambers is important so we can understand perspectives different from our own. The learning out there beyond our boundaries can be invaluable, and we are more likely to initiate the change we want to see in the world when we travel beyond our nice, safe personal borders. 

Still, this peace making business can be exhausting -- and sometimes, downright dangerous. It takes a thick skin to put yourself out there, because let's face it, sometimes the people with different views than ours can be angry. And maybe a little mean. 

So how do you know it's time to retreat back into the safety of your echo chamber, where everyone thinks like you do, and why is it important? I'll list below a few of the signs that it might be time for a mini personal retreat, but first let me tell you why it's so important. 


When I work with my coaching clients, one of the first things we often talk about is their ritual of self-care. This involves prayer and meditation, exercise, healthy eating and whatever other things feed my clients' souls (for me, it's the beach).  The reason I prioritize this is because these things are foundational to anything else we want to do in life that might take a modicum of stamina. If we don't have the energy that exercise and healthy eating gives us, and if we haven't been filled by the Spirit in our quiet prayer time, we'll enter into the forces of the world already depleted, and that's no way for a social justice warrior to prepare for battle. 

So how do you know that maybe it's time for a little R&R?  Here are three things I notice about myself that tell me it's time to cuddle up with some tea, or maybe some wine, and a good book -- and start listening to the people who think like I do again. 


You Feel Hopeless When You Read Social Media Comments
There's times when you can read through the comments people post, and you'll feel enraged. Or maybe really sad. Or sometimes, when you're feeling your best, you can even muster up a prayer for the people you disagree with. 

But sometimes, the way those comments come so fast and furiously can leave you feeling a certain kind of hopeless despair -- and that's when it's time to unplug. Sign off social media, go fill a tub or find some nature to hang out in, and recharge your batteries by sharing with some like-minded folk. It will remind you that things aren't as hopeless as they seem. 

You Feel Totally Happy -- And Then You Read The News
There is plenty to feel horrible about in the news these days, and it's normal to feel concerned and even a little afraid. But the practice of self-care means not feeding your addiction to those negative feelings. 

If you are having a great day until you open the news, and then BAM! you're suddenly in a pit of despair, having forgotten all the things you were happy about a moment before, it's time to step away from the screen. Slowly and carefully. Especially if you're not able to get back to your happy place easily. This is where a little detachment, and maybe some time in your echo chamber can help life your spirits -- and trust me when I say, it more lifted spirits this world needs (well, that, and Jesus. Obviously.). 

You're obsessing. 
I know it's hard not to. But if you have your phone set up so that news is the first thing you see in the morning, all you look at all day, and headlines are the last thing you read before you go to bed, then you're setting yourself up for stress and anxiety. (You should instead probably set your home page to something more like this.)

This would be a great time to go find some echo chamber buddies, but with one caveat: you talk about nothing that gets your ire up. Go see a funny movie, volunteer somewhere that makes you feel good, or as always, go for a walk in nature. And for the love of all that is good and holy please take all those automatically appearing headlines and email subscriptions to news outlets off your phone and computer. The world will not be changed if you miss a headline, but your world might get a little better if you do. 

Practice some self-care. We need you out here. And we need you fully you -- alive, refreshed and ready for action. Don't worry -- we got this while you go rest. Then it'll be our turn.