Don’t Change the World: Change Yourself First

be the change

We live in times of rapid change and advancement. Technology is constantly evolving, life moves faster every day, and we receive many messages about improving ourselves and society.

But in trying to get more – achieve more, acquire more stuff, be more successful – we often overlook the positive change we control most – improving ourselves from within.

As psychotherapist Dr. Benejam explains, lasting change doesn’t happen through forcing our will or ideals onto others.

True growth and fulfillment come when we do the personal work to deeply understand ourselves, bravely face challenges, and live by our highest values.

The Flaws of Forcing Change Upon Others

In our zeal to fix the world’s problems, we frequently focus outward instead of inward. We sign petitions, post social media calls to action, argue viewpoints, and join movements.

While participating in society matters, Dr. Benejam notes little lasting progress happens when we try to change things from ego, judgment, or anger.

“Demanding others shift to accommodate our perspective rarely succeeds,” he says. “Lasting change comes when we lead by example – transforming our own minds and lives first.”

Attempting to reshape someone else’s beliefs or behaviors forcibly often backfires by triggering resistance and defensiveness.

We see this dynamic play out across political parties, generations, cultures, and relationships.

“Convincing yourself that you know what’s best for others is arrogant,” remarks Dr. Benejam. “The harder you try to impose change upon someone, the more they recoil.”

This holds true even in family relationships. Parents naturally want the best for their children and partners for one another.

But applying pressure to conform to expectations typically wounds bonds rather than strengthening them.

Dr. Benejam helps clients recognize when their desire to support loved ones crosses over into attempting to control them. He notes, “One cannot mold others into one’s idealized image of who one wants them to be.” All you can do is work on yourself and offer compassion.”

The Myth of the Picture-Perfect Life

Many of our expectations of how others “should” be traced back to unrealistic social ideals, especially around familial roles. Social media depicts polished images of parental perfection, couples with storybook romance, and picture-perfect homes.

“No real family resembles the idealistic images we see in advertisements or on television. Yet these portrayals subconsciously shape our beliefs,” Dr. Benejam observes. “We compare our loved ones to impossible standards, which inevitably leaves everyone feeling inadequate.”

In actuality, all families have challenges and dysfunction. Every parent makes mistakes sometimes, every couple experiences conflict, and no home is perfectly orderly.

“Letting go of comparisons and honoring each family member’s humanity with compassion defuses constant criticism,” advises Dr. Benejam. “Work on accepting life’s imperfections instead of judging yourself or others harshly.”

be the change quote

Personal Growth Lays the Groundwork for Positive Influence

None of us can single-handedly overhaul society. But by doing our own work of self-examination, healing, and conscious living, we create ripples of positive impact.

Mahatma Gandhi embodied this philosophy in his famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

“Lasting change starts inside each of us,” confirms Dr. Benejam. “The more we build qualities like self-awareness, wisdom, and emotional maturity, the more we can model these for others and see our relationships and communities thrive.”

So where does one begin the journey of self-improvement? Dr. Benejam offers the following guidance for reflective inquiry and growth:

Look within before looking elsewhere. Be curious about your inner world – values, wounds, motivations, desires, fears. Creating positive change requires knowing yourself deeply first.

Accept responsibility for your emotions. Rather than blaming people or circumstances, acknowledge your reactions stem from within. Each individual always has agency in how they choose to respond to circumstances.

Refrain from judgmental attitudes toward others. Judging others as ignorant, misguided, or inferior reflects your own internal criticisms. Compassion for human fallibility dissolves judgment.

Take time for introspection and to process any emotional pain or trauma. Are old hurts or insecurities fueling anger, the need to control, or perfectionism? Grappling with unresolved trauma restores compassion.

Align actions with values. Stay grounded in what matters – family, community, integrity, growth. Let values shape priorities and behavior more than outward validation.

Strive to love others unconditionally without expectations. How would you act if nothing others did could diminish your love and goodwill? Love without strings fosters security and mutual growth.

Continue growing and developing throughout life. Stagnation leads to dissatisfaction and restlessness. Continually push comfort zones, develop interests, and expand perspective. The only constant is change.

With consistent inner work, relating to others through empathy and understanding becomes natural. We lead by embodying our principles rather than imposing them.

Dr. Benejam reflects, “I cannot compel a client to change against their will.” But I can model reconciliation with one’s past, settling into who you are, speaking hard truths with compassion. My inner changes allow me to walk with others through theirs.”

Healing the Past and Living Consciously

Many clients seek Dr. Benejam’s support in overcoming emotional baggage passed down through generations.

Whether stemming from childhood wounds, inherited family dynamics, or societal prejudices, unhealed pain often inflicts suffering upon younger generations.

“The storylines we absorb subconsciously shape how we perceive the world and treat others,” explains Dr. Benejam. “By bringing these narratives into conscious awareness, we can rewrite them with wisdom and love.”

For example, a father abused as a child is more likely to continue that aggressive pattern unless he bravely examines and changes his trauma. Or women subtly taught messages that they are inferior may doubt their worth unless they actively reframe those distortions.

“Repeating mental models that limit or harm us takes awareness and intent to interrupt,” says Dr. Benejam.

“Healing requires feeling, processing, and releasing experiences we once absorbed unquestioningly as truth.”

This inner work of liberation from the past lays the foundation for improved outward relationships. Dr. Benejam guides clients through a process of:

  • Acknowledging old pain
  • Understanding its origins separate from one’s worth
  • Releasing associated anger and shame
  • Rewriting detrimental narratives with empowering perspectives
  • Breaking detrimental intergenerational cycles
  • Living presently with self-love

“The goal isn’t to erase or justify the past,” she explains, “but to accept it with compassion so you can fully be yourself today.”

For Lasting Change, Improve Your Inner Landscape

“If we want more peaceful families, workplaces, and communities, we must find inner peace first,” summarizes Dr. Benejam. “One cannot provide others what one does not possess within oneself.”

Making the world better undoubtedly requires collective action. But first focusing on improving ourselves and how we act builds the qualities to help others do the same – empathy, integrity, courage, and compassion.

Sustainable change always starts within. As you heal old wounds, widen your understanding, and align with your best self, you will naturally become part of the solution rather than the problem. Be patient with yourself and others amidst the process.

“We are all works in progress, simultaneously imperfect and full of beauty,” remarks Dr. Benejam.

“The more we accept this about ourselves and humanity generally, the kinder and more thoughtful we become. From there, changing ourselves – and thus our world – feels possible.”

If you seek support in becoming your best self through self-inquiry, processing trauma, building self-awareness, or relating consciously to others, please reach out to Dr. Benejam at (561) 376-9699 / (305) 981-6434

By improving your inner landscape, you create ripples of positive change emanating outwards.