Transformation: If You’re Enjoying It, You’re Doing It Wrong.


Transformation is literally the progression from one form to another.

If you’re interested in personal growth and use words like transformation and metamorphosis, you’ve probably seen oodles of pictures of butterflies, symbolizing the process and its intended outcome.

That’s gonna be you someday! You’re a lowly caterpillar but you’re growing some wings, baby! You’re gonna be able to fly! So you read the books, you get the coaching, and you take the seminars along with a lot of other dewy-eyed, aspiring idealists. There’s a lot of hugging and sharing and mutual self-congratulation about how you’re saving the world together.

Approached in this way, the process is nothing more than a sport or a hobby, and it may be the best way to prevent the actual process from happening. It’s like hiding in plain sight. By consciously (and Lord knows, you and your friends love to use that word) taking up the cause of transformation, you’re obstructing it, and here’s why:

  • Transformation isn’t something you choose, it chooses you. Considering what’s involved, no caterpillar in its right mind would ever choose to become a butterfly.
  • Transformation happens alone. With butterflies, it happens within a cocoon that cuts them off from the outside world. So, no friends, no hugs, no bright shining talk, no seminars, no inspirational Facebook posts. If it’s really happening, you’re more likely to delete your Facebook account because you feel so alone.
  • Transformation starts by dissolving the old you. Literally, once it’s inside that cocoon, the first thing the caterpillar does is dissolve itself into a formless protein goo. There are some basic structures that provide functional continuity, but aside from that, it’s a wholesale breakdown that leaves nothing of the caterpillar identity to hang on to. If your identity is wrapped up in being transformational, then at best what you’re actually doing is becoming a better caterpillar.
  • Transformation sucks. You don’t want to talk about it, you just want it to end. Because your identity has been dissolved, you probably don’t have many friends, and may find yourself thrown together with people you don’t relate to as part of the process. You may think of suicide often, and that’s natural because in a way you are undergoing a slow-motion death and it’s reasonable to want to speed up the process and get it over with.
  • Transformation is confusing. A caterpillar has no concept of what it means to be a butterfly, and if you’re being truly transformed, you’re constantly having to shed your own concept of what that might mean. Your self-image becomes so beat up it’s unusable. And that’s the whole point, and that takes a long time because you’re so damn attached to it. Even the self-image of someone who’s not attached to their self-image is an attachment that has to be dissolved.
  • Transformation is in the bag. A caterpillar can’t help becoming a butterfly because the whole process is already coded and embedded in its DNA. When a caterpillar goes through the metamorphosis, what are called imaginal discs are already in place to become new features such as wings, legs and antennae. The only thing you can do to screw up the process is get in its way.
  • Transformation is bigger than you. This should lift you up when you’re feeling down, and knock you down if you feel like you’re special because you’ve decided to transform yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll get so tired of yourself and your own personal ascension story that you’ll just surrender and let it have its way with you.

So how do you surrender to the process? Here are some handy tips:

  • Start by stopping. Consider stopping those things that you think will consciously and deliberately lead to your personal evolution, such as reading self-help books, Yoga, chanting, spiritual music, and having deep meaningful conversations with like-minded people. Check to see if they’re part of an ego complex that needs to be dissolved.
  • Become suspicious of the concept of like-minded people. Be wary of projecting your ideals onto others and putting them on a pedestal.
  • Become suspicious of your own self-limiting beliefs that lead you to depend on others or on preconceived ideas about how things ought to be.
  • When in doubt, stop what you’re doing and wait for directions.
  • Go towards the dark. Whether you find it within or without, it’s the same thing. You’ve sorted your psychic contents into piles marked good and bad. The good ones you’ve claimed for yourself, and the bad ones you’ve sent off to fend for themselves. You need them back. Welcome them when they return, and apologize for abandoning them and being so selfish and petty.
  • Start using the word interesting rather than good or bad. It promotes a detached approach to your experience without creating a new persona of someone who’s taking a detached approach to their experience.
  • Watch out for wankers. These are people who are all talk and no action, and if you’re just starting out, you’re probably one of them. Most people are wankers because talk isn’t just cheap, it’s free. At the same time, realize that this is a perfectly understandable strategy for navigating life, so don’t be too hard on them or yourself for trying it out. It was worth a shot.
  • Resist the temptation to share your experience in a way that formalizes it and makes you special. It’s okay to be misunderstood and maligned since you don’t understand yourself or like yourself very much either.
  • See yourself as a process. Keep the process open as long as you can before temporarily stopping it by asking for help or conceptualizing what’s going on (this includes pleas to such entities as angels and spirit guides). Try to remember that you have no idea what’s actually happening or what all is involved and find strength in your ignorance. The road could take a 90-degree turn at any point and you’ll miss that wall you think you’re racing towards. After a while, you might even start to enjoy it.
  • Watch for the new order emerging in your experience. This is what will keep you going, and this is what you will find interesting. Over time, you will learn to trust it and rely on it more.
  • Pay more attention to the energy of people and things. That’s where the action is.
  • Remember that it’s supposed to suck, you knew it was going to suck, and if you had it all to do over again, you’d make the same choice because you’re such a cosmic badass. You’ve got this, soldier.
  • When all else fails, bitch and moan. If you’re not used to swearing, learn. There are no points for style. All that matters is that you keep moving forward.


Clive Treadwell is a writer and ascension coach who has previously been a management consultant, advertising copywriter and filmmaker. When he’s not supporting the evolution of the human race, he plays music and enjoys having an uninteresting life for once in his life. He is the author of The Reluctant Monk: An Ascension Story and can be found at his website.


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