In our final look at transformation, I want to talk about how contagious transformation can be.
One of the surprise wins in my journey has been to see how me working on my journey out of shame and into a better version of myself has impacted those around me. It’s impacted my husband and my children tremendously, but it’s also had impacts in all sorts of other relationships in my life – my relationship with my parents, with my brother and his family, with the people I work with and care for, with my neighbours and even with random strangers on the street.
The reasons – I think – are both painful and beautiful.
The first reason I think is that we can only bring the sum total of ourselves to a given situation.
We like to think that we can separate off a portion of ourselves – acknowledge on some level that it’s broken and damaged so segregate it from the rest of ourselves – and then hope that we can carry on. Our desire is to prevent those around us from getting hurt, but the situation is a bit like someone trying to walk through a china shop wearing their hiking backpack with lots of things tied on to the outside of the bag – at some point, they’re going to turn too quickly or fail to check their margins and they’ll end up hitting something and it’ll smash to the ground.
To the extent to which we continue to wear our virtual backpacks of shame and unprocessed messages and anxieties and fears, we will carry with us the ability to accidentally damage those around us. We might not mean to, but it’s inevitable that it will happen at some point, and the only way around this is to embark on a process of transformation.
The second reason is that transformation creates hope. Like the story I told in part one of this series about my friend Erin telling me about a bit of her journey of transformation, every time we meet someone or watch someone we know do the work of transformation we come to believe more and more in it’s possibility for us in our context. And as we begin to journey down this path of transformation, we too become agents of hope and vectors for change – simply by our presence and the sharing of our lives with one another.
The third reason though is that transformation is ultimately powered by love. Just like a relay race depends on each person running their own individual race well, and then smoothly passing the baton on to the next person, the love the we begin to generate during our own process of transformation will create power that can in turn kick-start or fuel the next person’s journey. This means that each person beyond us or beside us in the relay needs us to do our work of change so that they in turn can experience the love they need to fill give them the courage for their own process.
Am I crazy?
Transformation is hard, scary work that we cannot do out of anything but love and love’s sister, hope. We can’t be tricked, manipulated or scared into it, but we can find an extra motivation from our healthy longings and desires for something better.
Transformation will require learning how to be honest with ourselves, which will often require that we commit to connection with safe, trustworthy and wise individuals who can help us along on our journey.
Transformation will rely on our willingness to become intentional about the process – we may have to carve out time in our lives, develop new toolkits, face painful memories or be willing to let go of things that are no longer serving us.
None of this will be easy.
But after years of working through my own process of transformation (as yet incomplete – as are all of ours!) I am convinced that the alternative – living life with the backpack on in the china shop – is far harder in the long run, for both us and the people we love.
The impacts of transformation are like raindrops on otherwise still water – each drop creating ripples outward from itself until the entire surface of the water is changed into something new and beautiful.
Our choice to enter into the journey meets with so many others until the spaces and places that we cherish are themselves transformed into something more wonderful than anyone thought was formerly possible.
This is why I do what I do.
Because I believe that honesty matters – that connection is vital – that change is possible.
I see this every day in the coaching work that I do, and I am amazed to be witness to the work of the incredible individuals who trust me to walk beside them in their journeys.
If you or someone you know would be interested in talking more about this process, please feel free to get in touch.