Are you feeling “stuck?” Struggling with a bad habit? Not believing in yourself? There’s actually a way out of this mess and begin installing hope into your life. I learned about these stages about five years ago. This framework has really helped me to reframe things in my life, my attitude, motivation, and self-acceptance. The 5 stages of change is a summary taken from researches Prochaska and DiClemente called Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM).
1. Precontemplation-this is where you have no self awareness of the behavior to change, or that there is a problem to change. For instance, if you love to drink coffee all day and you are also a person with a lot of anxiety and stress, you might not realize the caffeine from all that coffee will make you a more anxious and stressed-out person.
2. Contemplation-you begin to realize there is a problem and you think about your situation. You are not making any decisions at this point but you begin to process what is happening. You self evaluate the pros and cons, and you look at the barriers to the change. You may ask yourself, “Why should I stop drinking coffee.” You tend to see more of the benefits of making the change. This stage can last for a few months or a lifetime. Most people stay stuck at this stage.
3. Motivation/determination-you have found a reason to get started on changing the behavior. Motivation can come from your desire to make your life more gratifying and less stressful. Maybe you were told by your doctor you have high blood pressure from all that stress. You face the fact that you want to live a long life so you can be with your family. You are determined to work this out for your benefit and you have found solutions to help you move through the barriers of the change.
4. Action-you are now in the process of moving forward and making the behavior change as your goal to achieve. During this stage, it is important to have support, encouragement, and positivity surrounding you. Refresh and engage in self-care activities to help you push on through.
5. Maintenance-you have made it! This is when you have moved into the new behavior and you are no longer repeating the behavior you were determined to change. You need to find ways to avoid temptations and make sure to reward your success. If you have a setback of relapse, just know that is normal. It does not take away from your efforts. You just keep moving forward and try it again. Avoid staying stuck about being too hard on yourself because that could lead into negative, hopeless feelings. Instead, allow yourself to not be perfect and shift your energy that will instill hope and happiness!!
The process involved in moving from one stage to the next is reframing your belief system that is optimistic and hopeful. It goes without saying there are periods of relapse and starting over. Sometimes in the beginning there is a lot of unwillingness. It may take you a few attempts before you shift your way of thinking about the lifelong commitment to making the change of the behavior. Good luck! Please share your efforts and what you found helpful or challenging. I know from my own personal experience.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wayne Dyer
Letting go of pain and suffering is not an easy task. It does not matter whether you have been dealing with this recently or a lifetime. Has this pain turned into resentments? This energy of resentment only fuels the fire of anger that blocks your insight into forgiveness and gratitude. This pain also prevents you from growing emotionally and spiritually and as well as enjoying all that life has to offer. Instead of holding the energy of not letting go, find your inner strength to help you move on and heal. You were not meant to have a lifetime of pain. You are a loving & beautiful soul. Tap into your heart center. Explore and be creative with expanding this love energy into your day to day existence to promote forgiveness.
5 Steps to Letting Go
1. Allow the energy of pain and suffering to shift and transform out of your mind, body, emotions, and soul. Remind yourself that thoughts & emotions are energy and they are forever changing. Just like the seasons change. We experience the seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter throughout the year. So, there is going to be time when you are not suffering too. Once you find more days without the pain, your ability to let go becomes possible!
2. Acceptance. Understanding that the experience which created this pain is from your past. You cannot change what has happened. You are in charge and in control of your responses. It does not mean you agree or give this experience permission to hurt you, but you are just cutting the cords of the emotional connection to your mind and body. It is time to live in the now.
3.Willing to forgive what has caused you pain and suffering. There is a deeper message and life lesson that you will understand after the healing has manifested into your life. It never makes sense at the time of the tragedy but its when you are in a place of compassion and forgiveness will you see how important it is to let go. You will begin to recognize that your pain has also caused pain with those around you. Not only do you forgive the situation that caused you pain, but also forgive yourself for whatever bad decisions or choices you made while dealing with this pain.
4. Love yourself. Trust your judgment and the choices you make. When you are doing what you love or feel good about yourself, then you have a healthy self-esteem. You must first love yourself in order to be able to truly love another. With self-acceptance and self-love, you are able to let go easier and with confidence that you are doing what feels right!
5. Move forward in your life. Live in the present moment. You are a present to yourself and you have so much more to offer to others. Your community, family, friends, colleges, animals, mother earth need to experience what you have to offer.
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers
Do you say to yourself, “Relaxing is a waste of time?” Or sometimes say, “Today I cannot go to yoga [or some other exercise] because I have something else more important to do?” If you said, “yes” to either question, you may be forgetting about the balance of wellness in your life. Essentially you are avoiding ways to nurture and preserve your mind, body, and soul. Sometimes getting caught up in the day to day “busy” life can be a distraction from really enjoying and appreciating the present moment. Relaxation techniques, when practiced daily or regularly has shown to improve overall wellness, peace & calmness, more enjoyment, clarity, improved sleep, improved relationship with others, improved health, or feelings of gratitude. Our physical body & mind need time to relax in order to replenish and recharge from the day to day activities and toxins that we encounter. So, if you find that you are repeating the same old story of being too busy to relax or not having the time to de-stress, know that all you need is 5 minutes or less to reduce your stress level. You can do these simple relaxation techniques at home, in your office, car, or the park. You will begin to recognize the difference in how much better your life feels.
1. Tension relief breathing exercise: sit in a comfortable position crossed-legged (indian style) and place your hands, fingers interlaced at the base of your belly. Gently close your eyes and begin to increase your awareness to your breath. Inhale through your nose, filling your belly (image your belly expanding like a balloon) and diaphragm rising. Then naturally exhale the breath out through your mouth (image releasing air out of the balloon), and the belly is pulling in towards of your spine. Emptying out the breath. Repeat for 4 cycles and on your 5th cycle, exhale letting out a sound to release any tension. Then on your 6th cycle, breath in something you need and breath out something you no longer need.
2. Listen to an audio recording on mindfulness guided meditation. Wear earphones so that you get the optimum affects of awareness and attention. You will increase your skill of observing yourself without judging yourself. You may eventually become more skilled in attunement which can increase your awareness of how the energy flows throughout your body resulting in healing itself and stress relief.
3. Reading for at least 5 minutes a day about topics that are relaxing, inspiring, joyful, peaceful, or creative. It helps get clutter out of your mind, feelings of hope, remembering your inner strengths, potential, and life purpose; and sometimes finding insight into the answers you need to feel better.
I would love to hear your responses!