State Change vs Transformation

So often people come out of retreats, weekends or experiences and proudly declare “I’m transformed” — but I don’t believe them.

It’s not that I don’t believe in transformation, I do — but we (especially spiritual people) love to mix up state change and life change.

A state change is temporary, and while it may be profound and moving, we will often return to our habits and patterns from before.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. State changes should be celebrated and lived to the fullest, but they shouldn’t be mistaken for transformation.

I have friends who have “transformational experiences” every month, but as I observe them over time I see they are just as easily triggered, just as likely to slip into depression and just as addicted to whatever their escape of choice is.

Have they really transformed? Or are they just chasing a high?

While we could debate the meaning of transformation all day, I don’t believe it’s something that can be accurately measured at the end of a weekend.

Transformation is something that we notice, not something we declare. We notice it because we’ve observed our behavior over a significant period of time and see evidence of how we’ve been different. Reflections from friends are a great way to gather this information, instead of just relying on your feelings. It often (but not always) happens slowly and methodically.

If someone declares on Monday that they’ve had a transformational weekend, they’re probably still high from the emotional release, and completely out of touch with reality.

Give it a year, then tell me you’ve transformed.


Get weekly thought-provoking essays that question the status-quo
(and question questioning the status-quo).