Stages of Change

Updated: Apr 20

Pre-contemplation – I’m not intending to take action in the near future and I’m aware at some level my behaviour might be SEEN as problematic. I might show up in therapy or a mutual-help group under pressure from my partner, employer, parent, or a court. I’ll resist progress and usually place responsibility for my problem on an external factor such as genetic, family, society, or the legal system, etc. I might find it challenging to feel I can do much about the situation and really see it as not that much of an issue. I wish you’d leave me alone.


Contemplation – I’ve started weighing the benefit and cost of progress and I am experiencing mixed feelings - ambivalence - about altering my behaviour. That BCM got to me a bit. I mostly wish you’d leave me alone – I think.


Preparation – I’ve decided my life might be helped by altering a choice regarding my unhelpful addictive behaviour – I’m more open to seriously considering an option. I’ll gather information, evaluate an alternative, and take a small step toward changing my behaviour. I’m starting to look more toward a possible future and a little less at my past. Please help me WHEN I ASK.


Action – I’ve taken the plunge. I’m taking a definitive action! Inpatient treatment - working with a professional - attending a mutual-help group(s) - working on my own – reading about it - or some combination of these.

I’m trying a new way to handle an old situation, an uncomfortable emotion, an unhelpful thought, an urge, or other challenge. I’m committing time and energy, and my progress and attitude is starting to be visible to another. I might be helped by a supportive relationship, if I have one. I’m substituting some new, healthier activity for an old one. I might have anxiety, and I am learning to accept a certain amount of discomfort in return for achieving my medium, and longer-term goal. PLEASE HELP.


Maintenance – I’m building more confidence as I progress in the direction of my new life. Challenges remain of course. An unexpected temptation requires a new thought or approach. I regularly do a healthy activity to cope with stress, work a tool that works for me, and I seek regular support from those I trust.


Exit –After a reasonable period of maintenance, my new lifestyle, my "new behaviour,” is MY way of being in MY world. An old, harmful behaviour no longer has a place in MY life. I have confidence and self-control, and I live MY healthier, happier life. There is no longer much room for anything else - especially a thing which might interfere with my life.


Slip - Lapse - Relapse – “Oh dear, I’m really beaten!” tends to be a common HUMAN thought. Rather than an automatic excuse to continue my unhelpful addictive behaviour, this might be a learning opportunity. This might be part of my progress, it might be common, whilst not compulsory. Rather than restarting my journey - I might identify which strategy helped me and which one fell a bit short. I use this knowledge to move forward with My Balanced Life. “I’ll get better!”


Punishing self-reproach and guilt, is likely much less helpful than accepting my temporary setback as an undesirable, common part of my progress and growth. Why call My Balanced Life a failure and give up? I’ll make this brief! It might provide an opportunity for my greater self-empowerment!


I fell a few times as I learned to walk or ride a bicycle.

01 - Stages of Change
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I might learn to live my life a bit better as well.

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