Author: Ann Schiebert
The Stages of Change
Some of you may be familiar with Prochask’s Stages of Change model. If we are to really grasp the concepts of Reality Distortion and Reality Clarity Systems, we must be familiar with how people get ready to change. Using Prochask’s model, there are 5 stages people pass through on their path to manifest change.
1. Precontemplation: This is the denial stage and the crux of any Reality Distortion System. In this stage, people believe that their behavior is not a problem in spite of evidence to the contrary. Denial, coupled with the belief that the behavior in question is not damaging, often keep many of us locked in precontemplation. The adage, “Nothing changes until something changes,” applies to this stage of change. To kick start getting past this stage, one might ask one’s self, “Do I have a problem and how will I know if I do?”
2. Contemplation: While denial is still firmly cemented in this stage, one begins considering how making a change could be worthwhile. So, in this stage, we have a conflict between the potential benefits of making a change, and ambivalence about leaving our problematic behavior behind. This is an extremely difficult stage to pass through because the idea of, “giving something up,” can trigger a sense of loss and deprivation. One must be open enough to ask themselves, “Why do I want to change?” “What is preventing me from changing?”
3. Preparation: Here, denial is loosing its firm grip on our RDS. Information is being gathered so one can consider options that are available to help facilitate change. People begin experimenting with trying to control their problematic behavior. Additionally, they might seek the advice of a therapist, or visit a self help group. For example, if drinking is an issue, one might attempt to limit their nightly alcohol intake or visit Alcoholics Anonymous. This is the stage in which we take our first step into a Reality Clarity System.
4. Action: Direct movement toward change is made during the Action stage. One is now on the RCS path. People in the Action stage are involved in the beginning steps needed to realize the change they want. If one wants to lose weight, for example, in the Action stage, that person is cutting back on, or eliminating snacks, sugar, and foods high in carbohydrates. Reinforcement and support must be in place in order for one to maintain the steps they have taken to move from the problem to the solution.
5. Maintenance: Here, one must maintain their new behavior and this is best done by avoiding temptation and returning to former behaviors. The challenge in this phase is to conceptualize and actualize the idea that returning to old behaviors is NOT AN OPTION! If one does have a lapse back into their old ways of thinking/acting, it is important to quickly return to their new behaviors. With long practiced old behaviors or ways of thinking, change happens slowly. Being patient with yourself will help keep you on the road of the Reality Clarity System.