Many years ago, I watched a production of Kafka’s Metamorphosis by the Royal Ballet. The physicality of it was gripping. The principal dancer contorted and writhed with the pain of his ‘Transformation’, his shadow fluid on the stage. The tension heightened by the sound of screeching music and the austere white background.
The story provokes questions. What is happening to this man internally, externally? It provokes observations, the reaction of those around is ambivalence, disgust, and some support.
For me we all are at some point in our lives or indeed always an evolving Gregor Samsa, the salesman In Kafka’s book who goes through a grotesque metamorphosis.
When we go through times of challenging transformation it has characteristics to it that is worthwhile being aware of so we are better able to navigate these periods of our lives.
Transformation can be both external and internal and the two are related. Internally transformation often involves us ‘thinking’ differently, ripping up neurological habits in favour of new ways of thinking. This can be some of the hardest transformation undertaken, as demonstrated by the challenge of addiction recovery but all thought change is difficult. External change is hard also and often linked to internal change, doing something differently being predicated by thinking about it differently and its success dependent on it. Consider how most of us have chased the ‘new me’ post new year only to be disappointed by our ‘failure’ some weeks or months later.
Transformation is painful. Whether it is an event external to us that is the catalyst for it or something we do independently, moving from how we are now to our ‘future selves’ is rarely easy. It is why when change comes without notice we find it difficult and when we instigate it ourselves we can struggle to commit to it. It requires us to let go of the familiar, to allow for uncertainty and not knowing and to start to think and act differently to in the past. It is the letting go and the stretching of who we are that is the most painful.
Transformation is hard to understand both for ourselves and others. It isn’t always clear what is emerging and the destination we set out to ourselves will not necessarily be the one we end up at. If letting go of the old us is hard for us sometimes it can be equally hard for those around us, relationships often dependent on the old version of ourselves can change or be lost as we transform. Alternatively, those close to us can be a great support
In life, Tranformation is inevitable though and ‘we’ will emerge different from who we once were. We should seize the opportunity to be aware of the nature of Transformation and develop the confidence to navigate it. We should consider
Being prepared for and accepting of what arises
How we look after ourselves physically and mentally through periods of change
How we keep momentum but at a pace that is right for the change to be successful
How we are mindful of others and the support they can offer
How we Reward ourselves and express gratitude
At some point we all must transform. How traumatic it is is down to our awareness and skills for the process.