Transformation is a rather big and scary concept. What makes it scary is the notions that we have about how transformation happens. In the area of psychology it conjures up ideas of angst ridden self-exposure, the working through of the past, the confrontation of pain and generally a lengthy and rather nasty process, which gives no guarantee of things being better after all this. In our homes the notion of transformation may be related to having things covered in builders’ rubble, living in discomfort and being ripped off by unscrupulous and incompetent workmen. The means of transformation are imagined to be so terrible (sometimes rightly so) that we often decide it better to keep the status quo.It is not uncommon, nor inappropriate, for people to be fearful about wanting to make changes to their lives. These fears are often related to the imagined magnitude of their own culpability or damage and therefore the magnitude of the task of making right. It is my experience though, that seemingly small shifts, can result in profound changes. Many people experience a great liberating relief from shame when they realize that the pain that they have experienced wasn’t their fault. A recognition and appreciation of the qualities and principles that someone may have employed in order to survive a difficult situation, can be enough to put another definition or meaning on the situation.

The metaphors for transformation of lives, as reflected in living spaces, are numerous. Small changes in our homes can often make big differences. I know that just putting a vase of flowers in a room can effect a transformation of delight. Changing the furniture around can create space. Painting walls a different colour can make everything look quite different. Tidying up a corner of the house or garden can be altogether satisfying. Using objects that may be lying around in different ways, can give a sense of accomplishment. The thing is that many of these changes are quite small and can be done all by ourselves. Of course there are some changes where we may need some expert help and this applies in psychology and in our homes.

Transforming ordinary or even quite ugly objects in different ways can be a very satisfying experience. I think that the objects of psyche can also be transformed by using them in different ways, applying different colours – using what is around. I think of a woman with whom I was engaged in a therapeutic process. She told me that although she would not have chosen the abuse, the rape, the losses that had featured in her life, she was grateful to all that she had gone through because it made her who she was. She was an absolute expert in transforming what had been ugly into something that became beautiful.

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