For most humans, Stage 1 kicks off when the pain gets so bad that they hit “rock bottom.” Others just reach the end of their rope: they can’t get hooked by the injustice or worthless or unloved parts. This feels like, “I am so over all this mess. I am not playing. I will not engage.” In summary: it’s only when there is a willingness to find another way, that we find another way and that marks the first step towards real healing.


By Kiran Trace

Healing is an ever-deepening process. However, we can often fall for the illusion that tells us, “one day I will be healed.”

This little controlling voice starts driving us toward perfection and provides all kinds of scenarios of wellbeing: craving green drinks and superfoods instead of caffeine and sugar, daily workouts and meditating before skipping to our dream jobs.

And of course, we are “awakened.”

We never have fits of rage, jealousy or inconsolable grief, and never any physical pain or social isolation. In a nutshell, being “healed” is some version of “perfection.” Ultimately, these are all illusions. What real healing is remains in the dark, unspoken—and, sadly, rarely seen.

Instead of true healing, we as a society sell these illusions of well-being, offering up middle ground of functioning in the world and containing our depression and pain as the model of health. We continue to underestimate the real power of full transformation that every one of us has at our disposal, regardless of the depth of our pain.

In my book, Tools for Sanity, I wrote the formula for transformation—four essential steps that have to be taken, and taken in a specific order, for transformation to occur. And that means any transformation: internal, external, physical, emotional, spiritual, whatever.

Every one of these steps are simple, but not necessarily easy. Especially if one or two of those steps happen to land in your particular blind spot. My intention is to walk you through what is truly possible. If you understand what you can achieve, my hope is that you will be inspired to keep going.

Stage 1

This sucks! I can’t live like this! It all has to change.

Here is the truth: we don’t start a real transformation until we are 100% willing to abandon our crucial patterns of suffering. Ironically we have to first be totally over it to start. Easier said than done!

Being totally over it feels more like our whole system is echoing, “Enough!” It sounds like, “I’m so done with this!” Although we may be in searing pain, many of us stick with the pain through a resistance to deeper peace, or to caution ourselves that life is dangerous and filled with injustices, misgivings and disappointment.

For most humans, Stage 1 kicks off when the pain gets so bad that they hit “rock bottom.” Others just reach the end of their rope: they can’t get hooked by the injustice or worthless or unloved parts. This feels like, “I am so over all this mess. I am not playing. I will not engage.”

In summary: it’s only when there is a willingness to find another way, that we find another way and that marks the first step towards real healing.

Stage 2

I have been at this forever and the pain is still here. What the fuck? I should just die.

(Around 40% down the transformation highway.)

This is a really brutal stage; it’s super uncomfortable. Now the pain is looping back with the most hooky voice ever: “I have been doing this forever, and nothing has changed!”

The rising of these frustrations at 40% through their awakening proves it’s the voice at play. In other words, 40% of your fight, your drama, your foolishness has been transformed and is behind you. 40% is a lot! But this story will make it really hard to see these changes.

Stage 3

It’s okay. This is life. We’ve just got live with it. We can accept this, and work to manage it. Heartbreak is required for our hearts to grow.

(Around 60% down the transformation highway.)

This is a really tricky stage, because our society marks this as the final stage: the end of the road. News and social media blast us with these totally false, delusional storylines:

“Keep depression at bay by going for a walk every day.”

“Feeling blue? Volunteer and serve others, and that will get you out of your rut.”

“Anger is poison; forgive and get on with it.”

When we get to this stage of healing, we understand that the pain is diminishing somewhat and it’s okay overall. We don’t need to throw forgiveness at it, or make the world a better place. We are at a powerful place—finally accepting our pain and our life right here and now. Plus, we’ve got a shit-ton more healing and peace coming for us if we keep going.

Stage 4

This is my gift. I know this is my hero journey. I get it.

(Around 90% down the transformation highway.) This is a great place to be. There is a lot of willingness to look and to change. Life feels very different.

Social pressure makes for many people pretending to be at this stage when they’re really at Stage 2. You’re still angry and heartbroken, but decide to throw a bunch of forgiveness at it as a balm to calm down, thus repressing your pain and suffering.

But when we are legitimately at this stage, we are in love with our anger and our heartbreak. Not in an indulgent way, desperately hoping to be seen and heard, but in a real way: we kind of want to love all over it. Acceptance and forgiveness flows naturally as we savor all the pain in our system.

Almost nobody is talking about this stage. It’s not the end—there’s a little more to go—but we don’t care, because we’ve got this sweet, sweet love going on inside. We only want to keep discovering this legitimate tenderness that is in love with everything inside of us.

Stage 5

OMG, this wasn’t even about my beloved’s death/my health crashing/my violent childhood/cultural and systemic endorsement of sexism and racism/my awakening/ ______. Nothing I thought was even true.
This, my friends, is the final stage of transformation. It’s rare to see, but only because we aren’t talking about it. Our “experts” don’t know about it, mostly because they haven’t walked it directly. And our society so loves to think the 60% mark is the finish line.

But a full transformation brings us into total dissolve of the issue. You cannot fake this stage or pretend those old storylines that ruled over us are true. We are full-Buddha-belly laughing at the illusion that seemed so real, and how we got all spun up over it.

Bonus: Stage 6

Wow… can I do that all over again?

This sounds pretty shocking to anyone in stages 1-4, but a full transformation fills us with a real hunger for all the ups and downs of life.

We look forward to the whole road to unfold again, knowing what we know now. Like in the movie Fight Club, where you’re so totally amazed at the truth behind the surface plotline that you watch it again, but slower, to see the truth was winking away at you the whole time. And that’s the bonus stage: wanting to experience the drama, pain, suffering and fighting all over again. Ironically, then, is when it’s really over.

This is what is possible for you. I can promise you that each step is simple and straightforward, and everything you need is right under your ass. But it will challenge every single illusion you are fighting for.


Kiran Trace is a Human Development expert hailed worldwide for her clear, detailed and practical insights on human nature. She specializes in introducing you to the vast eternal peace of your original nature and offers a comprehensive map with practical tools to help you transform traumatic patterns into full healing and fulfillment. Check out her book: Tools for Sanity  and her blog: She also has a class called Embodiment, which is the first class in her three-class series where she walks step by step through this process.


Photo: source

Editor: Dana Gornall


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