The Stages of Change: Precontemplation and Contemplation
If you’re reading this, then hopefully you have also watched the first video of this series about making change. Today’s article is meant to support and add to the information shared in the video as well as share ideas about how to move yourself or help someone else move to the next stage of change.
The most important thing to understand is that change cannot be forced. You can’t make someone change, and you can’t change yourself if you, or the other person, aren’t ready for it. Furthermore, if you are the person who might need to change and are in precontemplation (as discussed in the video), then you aren’t even fully aware that change is necessary. How can you do something that you don’t know you need to do?
I’ve come to believe that it’s always important to approach people and our differences with empathy, compassion, and the realization that whether a point of view is objectively true or not, it is true for the person that holds it. We also have to be willing to approach ourselves with compassion and without judgment. Investigating points of view that we don’t agree within a way that is open to new information helps us understand why the other person thinks the way that they do. An added benefit of this is that sometimes we learn something new. This doesn’t mean automatically change your opinion or buy into what someone tells you. It just means to be open and okay with the idea that you might have something to learn and you might benefit from making a change.
Moving someone out of precontemplation is arguably one of the most difficult transitions because at this point that person has no desire to do anything different. If you are trying to help someone transition to contemplation, then it’s important to validate their lack of readiness and not take action but to also encourage them to learn more and try to personalize the inherent risks of their current behavior. I discuss this some in the video. If you are someone who maybe has been told to change something about your health behavior and are yourself in precontemplation, then honestly my advice for you is limited except to say, try to understand why you are being told to change, try to research about the subject, and decide for yourself if there is any possible benefit to the suggested change.
Everyone is different and has different needs, and when approaching, or being approached with, new information it is important to think critically while also being open to new ideas or to understanding where someone is coming from even if you don’t ultimately agree with them. In this next article of this series, I’ll discuss more about the next stage of change, “contemplation”. Until next time, remember your health is in your hands and let good health take root!