I took the title for this post from a song of the same name by John Mayer, one of my favorite contemporary songwriters. In the lyrics to the song, Mayer explains that he and his generation want to make a difference but they don’t have the means or the strength to change anything. So, they are waiting on the world to change before they can step up.
As I listened to the song, it struck me that this is really one of the major problems facing our society today. Most of us feel pretty helpless and powerless in the face of all the difficulties that consume our planet. We, as individuals, cannot stop war, feed the hungry, save the forests, protect human rights, preserve endangered species, transform the global financial system, heal disease, reform politics, improve education or reverse poverty.
From the individual perspective we have very little to offer this suffering planet – so we simply have to wait on the world to change itself and hope that this will happen.
I once worked with a woman who was considering divorcing her husband after 20 years of marriage. She said, “I’ve been trying to change him for 20 years and it hasn’t worked so maybe I should give up.”
And I knew a man who had been an upper executive in a company for several years, but was now resigning in disgust, saying: “I’ve tried to change the culture of this organization for 7 years but nothing has happened. I have no choice but to move on.”
Both of these individuals had a disappointing experience when they tried to change the person or the system that they were connected to. They learned the hard way that change is very difficult and most people and systems resist change with all their might.
These two people moved on to new relationships and new employment, but kept their same positive intentions to change things around them for the better. And they were each disappointed once again with their own inability to make a difference in the world. It was as if they were being taught to wait – to allow time for people and systems and the world to change.
The problem is that change doesn’t actually happen the way we want it to. Change doesn’t come about because we make up our minds that some situation outside of us should be different than it is and then use our force to “make it so.”
Change is really an internal process – something that happens inside of you and me; something that we can’t really plan or control. Change is much more about what we let go of than it is about what we grab onto.
When we focus our energy and efforts on becoming the best people we can possibly be, then we actually spark the possibility of change. When we seek to live with integrity, to create congruence between our values and our behavior, and to let go of our old wounds and bitterness, then we open the door to transformation.
We cannot change anything outside of ourselves, like people or organizations, through our own actions. But if we heal ourselves and allow our own growth toward wholeness to occur, then we actually set in motion the healing energy that can potentially inspire change around us.
And meanwhile, when we become more whole, we also become more content with everything around us, just as it is. We lose our desire to make things different and instead become consumed with love and compassion for all that exists. This atmosphere of loving acceptance is precisely the energetic condition within which transformation can spontaneously arise.
The change we are seeking in the world is actually the change we need to spark within ourselves. We must go deep inside ourselves, search out our wounds and tangled memories, and heal them once and for all, for good.
And so it turns out that waiting on the world to change isn’t a bad strategy after all, as long as we stay diligent in our own task of becoming our best selves. Then the people and systems around us along with the world, with all its difficulties and tragedies, are free to evolve in their own perfect pattern, to become what they have always been meant to be.
To learn more about the process of self-healing, watch for my free conference call “The 3 Keys of Creative Healing: Change Your Life … Change the World … By Unlocking the Hidden Wounds of Childhood”