“Everywhere you go, there you are” means to me that change must ultimately come from within. I used to think that if I changed my outer world––moved, got a new job, a new relationship (especially)––something fundamental would change as well.

Mostly, I ended up reading from the same script, but just on a different stage in a different theater. No real fundamental change had occurred just because I changed my outer world. It did not automatically create any significant change in my inner world. Indeed, it was amazing how quickly I would re-establish old patterns, re-energize old habits in my new environment. Essentially I was decorating my new abode with the furniture from my previous one.

Eventually, tired of not creating the change that my conscious mind said I wanted, I spent a lot of time thinking and feeling it through. Before long I had a blinding flash of the obvious: Everywhere I went, there I was. The same old me. In new clothes perhaps, new surroundings, but still me, re-enacting the same behaviors, thinking and acting the same way that had created my circumstances in my old surroundings. People being pretty much the same the world over, others were reacting the same way to me and the same-old, same-old dynamics were occurring over and over. Everywhere I went, there I was.

The problem wasn’t other people, it was me. If I wanted change, I needed to change (become the change you seek). And even if the existence of the problem wasn’t entirely my “fault,” even if I had not created it, if I was the one who wanted change, then certainly the fastest way to get what I wanted was to accept responsibility for creating it.

If I wanted to create real, lasting, meaningful change in my outer world, I needed to start with my inner world. Once I did that, once I started thinking, acting, and being different, once I started seeing others and myself in a different light, I was amazed how much change seemed to happen automatically. Things that before seemed to take so much effort, frequently appeared to come about on their own.

Yes, different circumstances and surroundings can create the space and opportunity for change by removing many of the old cues and support for behaviors you wish to change. New people in your life, with no expectations of you based upon your past, can create a honeymoon period for you to try out the embryonic changes you are creating. However, these change opportunities can be squandered more quickly than you might realize and are
far from self-determining.

Because for better or worse (as always, your choice): Everywhere you go, there you are.

This is a classic from the NSC Blog archive, originally posted May 29, 2008.