Speaking on change
by Rob Coombs
Oct 28, 2012 | 1515 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Is there anything about yourself that you would like to change?

Few people, if any, would answer "no" to this question.

As the late Mr. Rogers pointed out, "Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort."

The process of change is far from easy. Becoming the person we really want to be is a lifetime process that demands courage, determination, and persistence, especially persistence. Because change is a process, often a very gradual process, we must be patient with ourselves and with others who are attempting to make a positive change.

Most often change involves a few baby steps forward, a step backward, a few more baby steps forward, and so on. Without question these steps become increasingly more difficult because the length of time previously spent on any task, habit, or skill makes it more difficult to do it differently.

Two individuals, Prochaska and DiClemente, have spent years studying change and postulate five distinct, yet dynamic, stages that are involved in the change process. Their research reveals how people move through these established stages from one to the other, but also can move in and out of stages depending on a variety of circumstances and the specific nature of the area they are seeking to change. Although there are thousands of possible examples, changing from being a smoker to a nonsmoker provides a clear illustration as to how their five-stage process of change works.

1. Pre-contemplation Stage: The smoker smokes without considering quitting. Although he might not like the habit, complain about the cost of cigarettes, and tolerate the nagging of others who don’t like breathing his fumes, he doesn’t seriously contemplate not smoking.

2. Contemplation Stage: The smoker consciously begins contemplating not smoking, but he isn’t ready to actually quit. Instead he sets up a projected time for quitting, say in six months.

3. Preparation: The smoker begins making active plans to quit smoking, sometimes even following through with at least one attempt to quit.

4. Action: The smoker finds a regimen of treatment that works for him. This might involve such actions such as wearing a nicotine patch or joining a support group.

5. Maintenance: The smoker maintains abstinence for a specific time period after treatment, long enough to begin viewing himself as a nonsmoker.

This five-stage model of change is helpful for understanding yourself and others who are seeking to change. As this model illustrates, readiness of the individual to make a change is absolutely essential for change to take place. This is why attempts to change others are destined to failure. In final analysis, the only person you can change is yourself.