Sometimes we find ourselves stuck. Stuck at a plateau – not advancing towards further progress but not going backwards either. Then there are cases where there is a clear problem, yet we in our conscious mind are not aware. Perhaps our loved ones are worried about our choices or actions. Maybe we are aware there is an issue but have adapted to the situation and are not yet willing to change. Change is hard. It can be painful to let go of something that has been a part of everyday life for an extended period of time.
Stop using the fear of change and protecting yourself as excuses to not at least try and create a better life for YOU.
When I was in treatment one of the methods toward changing my behaviors was the stages of change model. This model nicely presents the different stages someone goes through while attempting to change a part of their life that may be harmful, or just not beneficial. What I particularly like is that each stage is easily explained and allows for you to pick apart what you are trying to change and figure out where each part fits.
The primary stages are: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. I’ve seen some instances where there is a sixth stage, relapse OR termination. For stage six you cannot have both relapse being going back into the maladaptive issue or termination being completely ridding your life of the issue.
Precontemplation: Others are worried about you and your actions but you see no problem; egosyntonic (many personality disorders, and neurological illnesses are considered egosyntonic in nature meaning that a person’s behaviors are in line with their self-image/beliefs – which can in some cases be the same as self-worth).
What to do: Educate yourself; find helpful for you resources and use them; create a support team if needed, a team you are capable to trust.
Contemplation: Awareness of a problem but not yet ready to create change.
What to do: Understand the function of the problem, why is it present in your life? What purpose does it serve? What would be needed in order to change (new job, skill learning, coping mechanisms, ect.)?
Preparation: Making a plan of action, the steps you will take to change what is needed.
What to do: determine the skills you need/what needs to change; find a support team (or “beef up” your current one); find motivation that will keep you going on your journey.
Action: Put your plan into action. This is where you really get after it and fight for what you both want and need to change.
What to do: commit 100%; don’t doubt yourself. May include slips which then you need to get back up and fight harder; boundary setting in relationships; significant life changes; emotional instability in some cases which WILL work out, keep going, keep fighting.
Maintenance: Keeping on your path to change. The plan of action has been in effect for a bit now and your feeling good on your journey towards change.
What to do: the change is now feeling natural, a way of life. Keep going.
Now, as I mentioned above in some instances there is a sixth stage recognized – which is either relapse or termination.
Relapse: It happens. People fall back into old habits, you get triggered – human beings are not perfect, don’t try to be. However don’t let relapse or even the fear of relapse keep you from trying.
Termination: The ideal goal. This is where you have been avoidant of harmful/maladaptive behaviors for at-least a year and are in a committed place of mind to keep going on your journey. This is where real change happens as your life has done a complete 180 from where you were in precontemplation.
Deep down we know what we are meant to be doing with our lives. It’s not uncommon for external environment to cloud our judgment and create a situation where we are our own worst enemy. Don’t allow your life to be or stay sub-par. Don’t keep with the pattern just because it’s the pattern. If your unhappy, whether or not you choose to accept it than something needs to change. You know what it is. Trust me, you do. We are born with innate intelligence that is meant to drive us in the direction of our life path. Trust it, trust that intuition.
In my experience when there is a problem in need of change, fear is typically present. Whatever you do just make sure your fear doesn’t hold you back from reaching your true potential.
Part 3 of my journey in racing, relapse, and recovery will be up this week!