Stages of Change

Where are you now?

When we experience a change in life (gain or loss) we experience one or all of the various stages of change associated with either our emotions or the way we think. Often, these stages of change happen simultaneously.

When faced with change, we can embrace, learn and grow or resist and close down. Eventually, whatever changes have taken place we eventually grow to accept the change. Research has shown that when we can identify “where we are” in the stages of change, and when we can identify the specific emotions (verbally) we are feeling, the more effective we become in managing the emotional and cognitive stages of change. Moreover, we are better able to think twice about the situation and determine better solutions that foster healing and growth.

The choice you make when under the stress caused by change is to decide whether the change has you or you have it. When you can decide that you have it is the point where you gain greater control.

Lastly, when changes do take place you are far better off discussing the challenges with a trusted friend or advisor to increase your chances of making the very best decisions for both your short-term and long-term needs and goals.

Emotional Stages of Change

Elisabeth Kübler Ross, MD outlined the 5 stages of death and dying as:

  • Shock & Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Additional research suggests that there are 3 more stages to follow, they are:

  • Forgiveness
  • Happiness
  • Gratitude

Cognitive Stages of Change

  • Pre-Contemplation
    • No awareness of any problem or need for change
  • Contemplation
    • Becoming aware of a problem and beginning to think about solving it
  • Preparation
    • Beginning to gather information and developing a plan for change
  • Action
    • Taking steps to actually change – remove deficiencies, add a new way of living, building a preferred future because they value the possible over the present
  • Maintenance
    • New behavior becomes a sustainable habit
  • Termination
    • no risk of going back – client has fully integrated their life plans, and their preferred future behaviors are aligned with their core values and beliefs

Additional research suggests that there are 3 more stages to follow, they are:

  • Forgiveness
  • Happiness
  • Gratitude

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