I’ve noticed people go through a few transitions as they start acting sustainably. I haven’t catalogued them all, but a few:
From expecting acting sustainably means deprivation and sacrifice to expecting it bring rewarding emotions. Before this transition, you don’t want to start trying. You may feel obliged or shamed into acting, but you resent it. The AIM/Spodek Method that I teach and coach starts this transition.
From thinking your actions don’t matter to expecting you’ll influence others. Before this transition you think personal actions don’t change systems. You think only actions that change everything or scale to change everything are worth doing. Nothing does, so you don’t start.
From seeing the problem as “out there” to seeing it as inside us. Before this transition you look for solutions in science, technology, innovation, and cleaning things up. After it you see the problem is our behavior, which results from our beliefs, role models, images, stories, and what makes up culture. Only changing culture will stop us from lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life.
From thinking we can’t solve the problems to seeing that we can. The more you see we can solve the problems. the less your filters protect you from seeing the garbage and pollution we’ve covered Earth with. Before this transition, you blind yourself to it because why see it if you can’t do anything about it.
From only you and what you “sacrifice” to people your behavior hurts.
From imagining it’s your choice to seeing you can’t stop yourself.
From fearing living without to enthusiasm for an amazing life of freedom and reward.
From helpless, hopeless, shame, and guilt to powerful, responsible, and free.
From seeing only polluters as role models and sustainable people and cultures as backward to seeing sustainable as role models.
From denying and suppressing seeing pollution to disgust, then resolve, determination, and enthusiasm.
How the World Looks When You See You Can Make a Difference
The world isn’t pretty on the other side of these transitions. It isn’t before either, but afterward you see it. Alison, host of This Sustainable Life: Untethered, is going through these transitions. I see her recent post The Greatest Horror Story Ever Told showing the filter going away. It may sound like you don’t want to see the world as the horror show she describes, but I suggest you do. I’d rather not live in a horror show of a world, but if I do, I’d rather see it than blind myself to it, however unconsciously.
Her post The Diary Of An Addict from a couple months ago illustrates the effect too. She’s stopping suppressing and blinding herself, as you’ll wish you had earlier.
I recommend reading the posts.