Imagine that the world can be different.
Some people will find that easy. Some will find it harder. Some will find it alarming and retreat from it, dropping word grenades to discourage pursuit.
We are psychologically disposed and socially conditioned to have a stable worldview and defend it against conflicting input. “This is the way things are.” When people’s worldviews include the social and political status quo, they avoid or block change.
What can overcome this? Our deeper values, and our sense of empowerment. But many people are disconnected from those. Perhaps they never learned to feel them, or they suppress them because they’ve been taught that it’s more important not to rock the boat.
That, surely, is the territory of personal development.
As I write this, a UK national election is a few weeks away. Who makes up parliament and the government is not the be-all and end-all of making the country better, but it’s very important in setting how difficult or easy things will be.
It’s a different and important one. The traditional mainstream parties are floundering: trotting out old, uninspiring messages to an electorate they’ve thoroughly alienated. Smaller, more progressive parties have been gaining support and have an unprecedented chance to be effective voices in the new parliament. Reporting in the traditional media tends to favour the old guard and poo-poo challengers, but social media has more voices for change.
Over the last few years I’ve met a lot of great people working in various aspects of personal development. My sense is that a lot of them see that work as separate from social and political change. They work on the inside, and all that stuff is on the outside.
But the defining issue of our time is making the inner connect with the outer.
It’s about showing people that it’s OK to know and own their core values, and to reflect those in their agency in the world.
It’s not an academic exercise. Personal development that doesn’t show up in action is unfinished. People feeling better about themselves in a cocoon but afraid to venture out is not full service to the world.
So, all you coaches, therapists, counsellors, speakers and writers: open us some more active, engaged people whose inner light shines as far as our community and culture.
And make sure you step into your own active authenticity, where your vision of what is good is not confined to the consulting room or lecture hall. Even if your calling is to the inner, visit the outer to lend your voice.
The work you’re doing is part of building the upward path. Stand taller.