Transformations are painful

I’ve gone through a lot of transformations in my life. Breakthroughs, big or small, during which I distanced myself from a habit, allegiance, conviction, attitude or certain behaviour, and put something new in its place. Although the result is always nicer, better or more beautiful than before, the transformation process or the breakthrough itself, often hurts a lot.

“I think transformation is an interesting phenomenon, and intrigues me immensely. If the effect is so good, then why is it so painful?”

Is it because it’s about saying goodbye to something that was really beautiful and nice? Because I don’t want it to end – even though what made it nice and beautiful is now gone? Then why try to hold onto it? Is it the fear of the unknown? Fear to say it out loud? Because we’re afraid the truth will hurt – even if we know that truth only brings clarity and oftentimes space and solutions?

Absolute truth

I can name countless examples of habits and convictions I’ve said goodbye to during the course of my life; all of them, habits that were once an ‘absolute truth’ or ‘normal’ for me, but new influences or information showed me things could be different. For example, I used to believe that ‘higher’ is always ‘better’; that everything is going to be ok; that yoga is woolly and not for me; that an idea always has to come into fruition; that everything has to be done quickly; that you need money to allow something to be big, and that I have to conform to what people expect of me.

And very recently I’ve stumbled upon the conviction that I am responsible for the well-being of my team members and that saying goodbye is terrible. We, as Operation Education, are constantly moving. As a team, but also individually. And each phase is especially valuable, so valuable we’d want to hold onto it. Even so, given the movement we’re going through, it is inevitable that either our common, or individual paths will change direction.


In many cases, coaching, training, an in-depth conversation with others or another alternative form of intervention, has helped me live through the transformation. (Coaching is for ‘sissies’, I once thought…)

And in all cases the breakthrough either brought me closer to my essence, or the transformation was good for us as a team. Almost always, deep inside I had the feeling of discovering something new. And every time, I went through a process of these three steps, which I named as follows:

  • vision: coming for the first time into contact with something new, or different
  • desire: wanting to adopt that something new as part of yourself or your system
  • ability: controlling the new, it has become part of yourself and your actions

Vision and desire can be part of your system within a few seconds, but the abilty to control the new can take years, in my experience. The ability to let go of something so valuable and thus being able to really ‘live’ the transformation, often causes a lot of pain. I’d rather avoid pain, but in the end it has a function, like labor pain: the powers of nature (and of what apparently needs to happen) are also very special to live through – and the result makes everything worth it…


Of course, all of this also applies to the movement of education. Convictions surrounding education are often very deeply rooted and driven by habits.

Moreover, your education (= your schooling, upbringing and ongoing personal development) has made you into who you are now — and questioning or changing that really touches the deepest layers of our own being: “I turned out fine, right?”

I would just love to invite you to take that journey – to get closer to your essence, step by step closer to what you really want. It’s not easy, but over the years I have learned to appreciate the pain. I hope you will too.