How Change Happens
Sometimes, no matter how badly we want things to be different, our problems feel too big to change. In these moments, I find that thinking about how change happens helps me stay motivated to keep fighting for a better life.
I’ve observed several stages in the process of change in my own life and my clients’ lives. Focusing on these stages helps to motivate me, so I wanted to share them with you in the hope that it will do the same.
Stages of Change
- Awareness. The first stage of change is awareness. This stage provides new insights into the causes and consequences of every action you make. You cannot change something you are not aware of. If you’re like me, simply acknowledging that there is a problem can bring a sense of relief. Although many of us stop at this stage, change takes much more than just awareness, so read on!
- Comfort & Relief. Expressing your emotions to those that care for you (such as friends, family, and counselors) can bring considerable relief. This second stage focuses on getting help from people in your life who you trust and who support you. Often these people offer both tools and empathy that are helpful when you are seeking change.
- Reevaluation. Once you are able to experience some comfort, you are then able to reevaluate the situation. This works in two parts: reevaluate the situation you would like to change, and then reevaluate yourself. This stage of change often takes a lot of time and energy. It requires that you invest in the intimate examination of your situation and yourself, including the pros and cons of changing either and/or both.
- Self & Social Liberation. At this point in the change process, you will begin to experience a shift into a sense of freedom. Once you deeply evaluate who you are, you will be less worried about the judgments placed within or that the world throws at you externally. This is the perfect kindling to an internal fire of empowerment, which helps drive you closer to lasting change.
- Planning Behavior. Planning your behavior can be really helpful in changing life situations. Just like making sure you have the ingredients for a recipe, considering how you want to behave in various life situations helps you prepare for helpful change. Remember, practice makes progress, so although you are focusing on the planning part, you also need to put your plans into action.
- Planning Response. Just like planning your behavior can inspire change in your life, so can planning how you might respond to various stimuli. When you take the time to imagine how you will cope when things don’t go your way, you will help to reduce stress and increase your emotional control. This will give you the power to change.
- Healthy Relationships. Remember step two when we talked about people in your life that bring you relief? Well, those people are important enough to revisit towards the end of the change process. It turns out that healthy relationships almost always inspire and facilitate change. Although you need your support network throughout all of these steps, being especially mindful of them towards the end of your journey is extremely beneficial.
- Awareness. Our steps to change end right where we began: awareness. This stage of awareness will probably feel much different than stage one did because whether you felt it at the moment or not, you’ve grown. That being said, because humanity is complex and intricate, there is always more to learn and to be aware of. This brings us back to the awareness of a new opportunity for change – starting the cycle over again!
When you step into our office, our goal is to help guide you through this process of change in a way that incorporates your mind, body, and spirit, paying close attention to the intricate details that make you uniquely you.
Are you ready for change? Let’s embark on this journey together.