I believe you want to change for the better. I can help you with that. I am currently posting a series on how people change to help you understand how you can begin feeling more in control of every area of your life and reach the good things you desire for yourself and others.
You are in various stages of change depending on what behavior we are talking about. I’ll give an example: In tying my shoe laces… I’ve already changed in the ways I need to in order to reach the results I want (going outside to play with my kids). In eating habits, however, I am in an early stage because while I want to change my habits in order to obtain better overall health, I still sometimes choose chocolate or ice cream instead of veggies or giving my stomach a break. There are some behaviors that I haven’t started even thinking about changing yet. This is true of you as well.
The first stage in a change process is called ‘precontemplation’. Precontemplation means that you haven’t even started to think about the need for change; you aren’t even aware of change that needs to happen to reach your goals. The example that I gave in my first post in this series was that I had a number of girlfriends, but my unfair expectations, inability to communicate, and poor self-image led to multiple times when the relationship ended with me feeling betrayed. During this period of about 7 years I didn’t realize that I had a lot of control over the types of relationships I found myself in. Because I didn’t realize I could do something to change, I wasn’t looking for the solution in myself. I thought I was simply unlucky and eventually I might get luckier and find the ‘right girl’. Other people often told me that I was in a relationship that wouldn’t be healthy, but I didn’t listen to them because I didn’t see what they saw. I felt that the result of having a great long-term relationship with someone was mostly out of my control.
This can be seen in other situations as well. Do you find that others say you need to change something in your life, but you don’t see the need at all? Do others complain that you drive too fast or too aggressively? Do others comment on your weight and the need to change your exercise or eating habits? Do you find that other people tell you that you need to expect more from relationships or that you have a low self-image? Does your sales manager encourage you to practice certain skills and you don’t see the same need, but have less than exciting results in business? Do others often wait on you while you are late to almost every appointment and yet the problem is always because traffic is busy? Are you really stressed all the time and don’t know why (or do you have problems in life that others believe are related to your stress and don’t yet realize it is stress that is causing the problems)? Have you had many jobs and keep getting fired or having problems with managers or supervisors and simply haven’t found a ‘decent boss’ yet? Has your drinking increased to a level where others are commenting on it and you have lost some relationships, but believe the problem is how everyone around simply doesn’t understand that you are in control? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely are in the precontemplative stage of change. I want to make three major points in today’s post: 1. Precontemplation is NOT a character deficiency. 2. How can you tell if you or someone else is precontemplative about change? 3. You can move to another stage of change (or help others around you). It will take some specific help.
Know that precontemplation isn’t about being unintelligent or having something wrong with who you are (even though others might judge you because of it). It simply means that you don’t know what needs to happen in order to get what you want in one area of life. I know people who are extremely successful in one area of life (family relationships or business) and are absolutely awful in another area (finances or communication). We learn common sense… it isn’t common at all for young children or babies. I want to encourage you to go easy on yourself and go easy on others around you. I have siblings that seem not to understand things they need to do to get what they want in certain areas, but I also have the same types of problems in other areas. Know that you will keep bumping into the same lessons over and over again until they are completely learned.
Many people in this stage of change feel extremely defeated and you may believe nothing will ever help you or make a difference… that you’re simply ‘too broken’ for hope; to try to change may be pointless because you’ll simply fail again. Have you given up on yourself in certain areas of life? Maybe it is an area you are precontemplative about. Do you become really defensive if someone else touches on an area of life that you feel weak in? Are you able to come up with incredible excuses for why you aren’t getting results in a certain area of life? You may even see the best defence as a strong offence and push people away in some areas of life. These all can be signs you need to make changes in an area of life and don’t yet understand what needs to happen to get the results you want in life.
What do you do if you believe something needs to change, but don’t know what it is that will get you want you want in life? While some people believe the journey toward change is complex… it is actually quite simple. You need become more aware of yourself. This may be frightening in itself, but only because you don’t yet trust yourself or believe you are cable of change. EVERYONE and ANYONE is capable of change. Trust me. First, you can begin to become aware of what your defences are and when they come up. This actually happened to me this morning. My wife asked an honest question in a way that didn’t put me down and yet I had a strong reaction to what she asked. I needed to ask myself: why am I reacting in this way? What’s happening in me right now? How do I feel threatened? If you have trouble doing this on your own you can always ask someone close to you what defences they see. If someone around you needs to change I strongly recommend something to you. Help them by being a safe support. The more you push them toward the change YOU want, the further away a person will typically run.
This post is already getting fairly long, so I’ll finish up. I realize that this series is getting more complex than my average post and I want to invite you to ask questions or make comments below. The more we dialogue about these ideas, the more you will understand and be helped. I have been tentative for a long time about writing this series because there is so much information and it can get complex very quickly. My desire is to simply provide the basics with the hope that you will connect with me or someone else around you to discover more if you feel you need more.