What is the difference between transformation and change?

In my middle fifties, easing into cronedom, I did about four years of dreamwork and questioning with a gifted Jungian analyst. One of the points of such analysis is to free the soul – Psyche – to continue its lifelong process of transformation with greater confidence, freedom, and peace. Three years or so after my work with the analyst was done I re-read all the journals I had kept during my time with her. These thoughts grew from that re-reading.

Our culture, our time and place, tells us that we are able to change ourselves – but I have come to believe that these attempts to change the self, adjust the self, fix the self – these attempts only get in the way of authentic transformation. And so – somewhat in the spirit of a field guide offering careful guidance on how to distinguish a long-billed curlew from a marbled godwit – here are my field notes on the difference between transformation and change.

You can download my handwritten list here – I much prefer my handwritten version, but in case you can’t read my handwriting or don’t want to wait through the download, I have typed out the words for you as well.

Handwritten version ( 652k )

Typed version

What is the difference between transformation and change? (C) 2007 Pamela Grenfell Smith. This work is made available to you under a Creative Commons Level 3 License. This means that you are free to use and adapt it so long as (1) you attribute authorship and copyright to Pamela Grenfell Smith, (2) your use is non-commercial, and (3) you may not copyright your adaptation of this work under a more restrictive copyright. For more info, please see creativecommons.org

5 responses to “What is the difference between transformation and change?

  1. Pamela, your list is so helpful! In my work with organizing and productivity, often the most challenging part is to uncover a client’s worthy and transformative goals rather than the list of what they think would be sensible and laudable.

    What is your experience of “making room for God and Psyche to work”? I find that it is possible for even retreats, prayer, and meditation to be approached as tasks to be accomplished for the sake of improvement rather than opportunities for transformation. What stills the chattering voices that undermine transformative joy?

    All the best, Margaret Lukens

  2. Geeze Louise, Margaret, do I know the answer? I am way too good at giving myself assignments!

    Years ago I wrote down – out of some book or other – “Alertness and discipline…keep us in touch with the deepest sources of our creativity in the unconscious mind.” And William Temple wrote [someplace] “Nobody ever drifted into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    Alertness? Discipline? Intentionality? Focus? I find that there are words I can speak out loud that help me, and I’m working right now [busy little Ego!] on a personal Book of Hours that might
    get those words under my hand at specific times of day. Singing helps. Silence helps. But I can’t write about this any more right now because I have to go dust my light bulbs.

  3. Pingback: Goals: Change or Transformation? « New Leaf News

  4. Catherine Skinner

    Hi Pamela, Your thoughts on change and transformation were ‘as if’ a light bulb turned on … as I ‘ease into cronedom’. A huge, ‘thank you’ for your pondering and blogging in 2008.

    • Catherine, thank you! And thank you also for making me look again at what I was up to in 2008, and start wondering about getting back to it.

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