© Michelle Chan
There's something about the ending of one year and the promise of a new one that brings self-reflection to the forefront of our minds. Typically, people have a tradition of setting goals and resolutions for the new year (and then breaking some, if not most, of them shortly thereafter). But! I am a firm believer that change is possible...if it is truly desired from within. No matter how often those in our lives may express their concerns and their desire for us to change, it will never happen unless WE see it as a priority and WANT to make those changes for ourselves. While over time we may begin to see some validity in the points that others make, it does not always translate into us taking action right away.
Do you know, or want to know, where you are right now in the process towards making change(s)? Let's take a look!
According to James Prochaska & Carlo DiClemente, before we make any changes in our lives, we must go through various stages first. The following are the 5 stages of change, and included is an example of what it can look like for someone who is seeking mental health services:
Precontemplation - At this stage, the person either has no awareness that an issue or problem even exists, or has no intention of making any changes. Therefore, there are no thoughts of making any changes. (E.g. Things are going just as "normal," and someone might mention to you that you may be able to benefit from therapy; You might come across something about therapy or an issue that you're going through, that then sparks a general thought about it.)
Contemplation - Here, the person is uncertain whether or not any changes actually need to be made. Even if changes are considered, it would be sometime in the future that is left to be determined. (E.g. You may start wondering to yourself or asking those close to you questions such as, "Should I seek therapy? Will it actually help or benefit me?")
Preparation - By now, the person is seriously considering making changes in the near future and is prepping for it. (E.g. Looking up websites to explore what therapy is or isn't, googling and calling therapists to see if they fit what you're looking for and if they can help you with your issues/concerns.)
Action - At this time, the person is ready to make changes and is actively engaging in new behaviors in an attempt to address and work through issues/problems. (E.g. Deciding on a therapist and seeking therapy services on a consistent basis to address issues/concerns.)
Maintenance - The person is trying to maintain changes by continuing the use of new behaviors and preventing return to old behaviors. (E.g. Continuing to engage in new behaviors and trying to maintain progress and changes on your own, with the support of loved ones, and/or with the support of the therapist, possibly seeing therapist with less frequency over time.)
[Relapse] - The possibility that the person returns to old behaviors due to being triggered or lacking motivation to continue engaging in new behaviors and making changes to previous behaviors. (E.g. Having returned to old behaviors and may be in need of additional support from loved ones or in need of more frequent sessions with the therapist to work through previous or new issues/concerns that have came up.)
So having read through these stages of change, take a moment to do some self-reflection before answering the following questions as honestly as possible:
*What hasn't/isn't working for you? (If you're unsure, think back on people's comments/suggestions to you. Were there certain comments or suggestions that were said to you repeatedly by different people?)
*What stage of change do you believe you are at now?
*Are you ready to move onto the next stage? (If not, what has to happen before it pushes you to take the next step? Or what would help you to be able to move onwards in your journey?)
For 2017, rather than making a vague and grand new year's resolution, consider setting a goal to move forward ONE step towards addressing/working through any issues, problems, or difficulties you have been experiencing. If there is any way in which I can be of assistance, please do not be shy, and just reach out and contact me! I am more than happy to take the time to help you explore what the next steps are to making 2017 even better than 2016!
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley