An Unexpected Journey from Pain to Power: Transformation Engineering 101

Live from the NFTs for Good Stage at NFT.London, Nov. 4, 2022

My NFT.London talk on using NFTs as a tool for psychological and financial self-empowerment where I first discussed my Pain to Power concept for creative self-empowerment. 

What Do You Do when Your Mind Wants to Extinguish You?

Imagine that your mind is telling you that you want to die. That for months you feel with every molecule of your body that you shouldn’t exist. That you’re a worthless piece of shit. A waste of human potential. 



This happened to me in 2021. After struggling with major depression on and off for a decade without proper help, I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2 and borderline personality disorder by multiple mental health professionals at 32 in 2021. I found myself on the edge of suicide, completely hopeless, hopeless, and desperate. The only reason I chose not to take my own life were the multiple suicide attempts of a struggling loved one, which had caused me unspeakable pain since I was a teenager. I needed to do damage control and find my way out of the darkness. So, I put to use everything I’d learned in the last decade as a voracious reader,  storyteller, trained journalist, and naturally curious person. And just started experimenting in a desperate attempt to save my own life. And I did. By using something I’m calling transformation engineering and teaching myself to channel creativity into mental self-care habits and practices. 

What is Transformation Engineering?

Transformation engineering is a practical method for approaching complex problems, navigating challenges, and tackling difficult situations in any domain of life based on training mental fitness, building resilience, and cultivating adaptability to change. 

The method can be used to build and strengthen the mental skill to turn challenges into catalysts for growth, obstacles into opportunities, and pain into power, and can improve overall mental fitness, resiliennce, and adaptability to change. 


This practical method for self-empowerment has helped me reinvent myself multiple times after living with severe unhealed trauma and suffering multiple traumatic experiences, including the loss of a loved one to cancer, the loss of a baby, the loss of a successful job, the loss of my first business, the loss of all my savings and sources of income, the loss of a 9-year-long relationship, and the loss of my home.


TLDR: transformation engineering works.


Following the principlies of this method for navigating challenging situations and adapting to change can help you turn from a victim of your circumstances into an empowered engineer of your reality. You don’t believe me? Transformation engineering enabled me to build a huge international audience, get a book deal, a TEDx talk, and a Forbes 30 under 30 selection thanks to my work in the food space, even though I’m a complete amateur and have no professional coooking experience. The only reason I got in the food space – I had a severe eating disorder and body dysmorphia. And I wanted to be skinny.


The same method enabled me to have my depression-inspired art displayed in the most prestigious art establishments and luxurious venues in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, only one year after starting making art and only six months after relocating to The Netherlands from Bulgaria with no connections. The only reason I started making art – I was so depressed that could barely use my words to capture my inner experiences and searched for an alternative creative medium for self-expression. Which is how I stumbled upon doodling.


If like me you’d like to turn your mind from a weapon for self-destruction into a tool for self-empowerment, then you may find the idea of transformation engineering interesting. 

What's in It for You?

Applying this method to everyday experiences and situations can empower you to de-bug your operating system for life, upgrade your autopilot mode, and update your software. 
In practical terms, transformation engineering can:
  • equip you with tools and techniques to approach and navigate difficult situations, so you can make the most out of your circumstances
  • help you become more resilient, mentally stronger, and adaptable to change, uncertainty, and adversity
  • empower you to get rid of self-destructive and self-limiting thought patterns and behaviors 
  • guides you through empowering decision-making processes
  • help you become more self-aware and attentive to your inner landscape
  • empower you to thrive even in unstable environments and changing circumstances
  • enable you to reprogram your brain for self-empowerment.

With proper support from qualified professionals in the mental health and coaching space, such as art therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, life coaches, etc, the transformation engineering method can help you stop perpetuating unnecessary psychological and emotional suffering and empower you to channel your mental energy and creativity into self-empowering practices, habits, and routines. This is exactly what happened to me when I invented my own doodling style while I was going through suicidal depression. Because my words weren’t enough to convey the intensity of my psychological pain, I started drawing for the first time in my life and accidentally invented a system for visual communication that enables capturing complex inner experiences through simple visual shapes.

Albert van Abbehuis, Nov. 2022, Part of A Whole Exhibition Organized by The International Creative Women in Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Examples of creative empowering activities are doodling for emotion processing, edible art for mindful eating, body art for self-acceptance, etc. 

After cooking in the back of my mind for multiple years, the final version of the transformation engineering method came together in 2022 with a 12-step playbook for self-empowerment I created after I spent a year recovering from suicidal depression after getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2021. I used this exact method to get off the edge of suicide and transform into an international artist, speaker, and mental health educator with NFT and physical collectors on multiple continents. 

I’ve gone through multiple traumatic experiences of various types since the early 2000s, so the process was inevitable. As a compulsive documentarian and lifelong storyteller, it was only a matter of time until things just clicked. And they finally did. The puzzle started coming together in 2010 and 12 years later it has transformed into what I call the Pain to Power playbook for self-empowerment. 

Pain to Power: 12 steps to Self-empowerment

Creativity Can Save Your Life. If You Let It.

My creativity saved me when I got to the edge of suicide after struggling quietly with major depression for a decade and finally getting diagnosed with mental illness at 32. But as difficult as it was to hear, this diagnosis didn’t feel like a life sentence. It felt like a manual how to operate my machinery optimally. It felt empowering. And it allowed me to make practical steps to stop living through a victim mindset, get moving, and change my story.

My bipolar diagnosis came as a surprise to the people around me. For a decade nobody but my partner at the time saw how brutally I struggled with my mental health after losing a baby, a loved one to cancer, a successful corporate job, my first business and only source of income, and even my 9-year-long relationship with what I thought was the love of my life. I hid my pain from everyone. Until I could no longer hide and started sharing and talking openly about my struggles. And while it hasn’t been easy, it has been empowering and life-changing, because it has enabled me to create a playbook for mental fitness, resilience, and adaptability to change, which can inspire and empower others to change their own story like I changed mine.

Who Can Benefit from Transformation Engineering?

The transformation engineering method is accessible to everyone. It’s a practice you can adopt. And do it regularly like a mental workout. You can do it on your own or with professional support. You can learn its mechanics and turn it into a daily routine – like brushing your teeth. You can use it as a simple and easy check-up system for yourself – like a thermometer for your mental and emotional state, which can indicate problem areas early on.

Transformation engineering can enable you to consistently and repeatedly choose courage over comfort, curiosity over certainty, and creativity over conformity in every situation of life, regardless of your context. 

Wanna Try Transformation Engineering?

You can learn and practice the principles of transformation engineering through various activities and see the benefits in multiple areas of your life. 

In January 2023 am starting to teach my transformation engineering method with a FREE introductory immersive creative experience for people around the globe, who are coming together on a virtual playground to build or strengthen their relationship with creativity and turn it into a superpower in every domain of their life. And to just play together! But this is just the tip of theiceberg! 

Pain to Powe Academy: Transformation Engineering and Creative Empowerment


The next stage is launching the Pain to Power academy for self-empowerment through creativity, which will enable students around the globe to learn how to turn creativity into a superpower and use it to solve complex problems, navigate challenges, and thrive despite adversity. Like I have done multiple times over the last decade. 

For the launch of this adventure (the 4-week Creative Play online experience) I’m inviting a limited number of students to my virtual playground. They will be able to watch, learn, and play with me in real time from the comfort of their home.

If you want to learn and play with me, join the first FREE Creative Play Online Immersive Experience from January 2023 by registering here

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