“You have a problem at work, home or with yourself and you know you should do something about it but you never do – why?”
Over the years, I have asked this question of numerous clients and there is one resounding answer, which I pick up through their body language and facial expressions because most don’t verbalize that they don’t like change. Human beings must be one of the few species on the planet that is willing to put up with pain for a long time rather than take action, to change and move on. By nature we become very attached to what we know and believe to be true, and this often leads to resistance when offered a solution. Many people have to be pushed or dragged out of their comfort zone, which is actually a place of pain, but they have become so used to it they’ve lost sight of how great things could be. The transformation that takes place in a person who is willing to let go and grow, is delightful to watch. The stages of change usually occur as follows:
IN DENIAL: I do not have a problem:
So let’s take drinking too much alcohol as an example. An individual knows the downside of this habit: spends too much money, feels awful the next day, affects thinking and behaviour and often relationships, bad for liver, kidneys etc…..
Some useful questions for this initial phase are:
- Have you ever tried to change this behaviour in the past?
- How would you recognize that you have a problem?
- What would have to happen for you to consider you have a problem?
CONTEMPLATION: Maybe I do have a problem:
At this stage the person is ruminating on the idea that this habit is damaging to themselves and others, and is more open to the idea of changing his/her behaviour. Some useful questions to ask at this stage are:
- What are some things that could help you make this change?
- Do you want to change? If so, why?
- Is there anything preventing you from changing?
PREPARATION: I accept that I do have a problem:
This is a huge leap forward and usually happens when the pain is too great to stay within current circumstances. Once the person acknowledges that they need help, they will more easily allow others to support them and may actively seek assistance.
- Find a support group/Counsellor
- Keep a diary of new habits
- List motivational statements
ACTION: I am ready to take steps to rid this problem
- Congratulate yourself for steps taken
- Reinforcement of support is vital
- Periodically review your motivation, resources and progress