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I (don't even) THINK I Can!

Woo, hoo! Thanks for joining me as we start our journey through Dr. James Prochaska and collaborators’ Transtheoretical Model of Change.

Here's a quick reminder of what the five stages of change are:

  1. Precontemplation

  2. Contemplation

  3. Preparation

  4. Action

  5. Maintenance

Today we get to jump into Stage 1: Precontemplation.

Ever know a heavy smoker or drinker who didn’t see any reason to quit or reduce their smoking or drinking? Someone whose doctor warns them about their weight, but the person thinks they’re just fine? Or a person who's worked hard and yo-yo dieted so many times they’re weary of the struggle and have given up?

Each of those people is likely in the state of precontemplation.

Folks in precontemplation either think “I can’t” or “I won’t” if someone suggests there’s a need for change.

(Spoiler alert: nagging these folks will get you NOwhere!)

It’s easy for us to get really frustrated with people we love who won’t change what we see as unhealthy, unhelpful behavior. “Don’t they know it’s dangerous to be so overweight?” “Haven’t they read that exercise is so important?” “Can’t she see how toxic her friends are?”

It’s especially painful to see friends and family who have walked away from or never come to faith in Jesus as their Savior . . . and exhibit no desire or will to change their path.

But here’s where we need to get real, step back and turn our eyes from others and focus honestly on ourselves.

There’s only ONE person you can, with God’s help, actually CHANGE:


Go ahead and take a moment and say this out loud:

I am the only person I can change.

I am the only person I can change.

I am the only person I can change.

There are likely behaviors in ourselves we don’t see or believe we need to change.

Or maybe we’ve given up on trying to change because it’s hard. (It really is!)

When we're blind to our need to change, weary, or unwilling to think about change, we’re in precontemplation.

So if we know every person--including each of us--is in some state of precontemplation, how do we move to the next stage of change?

If you’ve made healthy changes in the past (food choices, exercise, bible study, boundaries with friends), but now feel defeated and lack confidence . . .

OR if you’re not sure how you might need to change, there are a couple things to try:

  1. Pray.

    • Always wrap every life choice in prayer. Ask God to reveal what you need to change to move forward. (Attitude? Behavior? Thought life? All of the above?)

2. Ponder Positives.

  • Write down times when you HAVE been able to move forward with a healthier change.

  • List the supports that were in place (prayer, more sleep, pantry staples, friends, schedules, accountability, regular bible study) that made healthy change happen for YOU.

    • [NOTE: if you truly can’t identify a time you’ve set boundaries and/or made healthy choices, this task may need the support of a licensed therapist. Strong people seek help.]

3. Prune.

  • Write down times you’ve been stopped during healthy change attempts.

  • What were the roadblocks to healthy change? (Unsupportive friends/family, lack of spiritual practices, overly scheduled, junk food in the pantry, lack of rest, unrealistic expectations/timeline.)

4. Process.

  • Honestly consider and write down what you could keep or add-in to support the healthy change AND what you are truly willing (and able) to prune out of your life.

5. Plan.

  • Write down simple next steps you might take. They could include cleaning out one pantry shelf; texting a friend asking if she’ll be an accountability partner; or setting a bedtime sleep reminder.

6. Progress vs. Perfection.

  • Consider how you could be gentle with yourself and notice even small steps forward on your journey toward health. (For instance, reading this blog counts!)

Each point listed above will still be part of precontemplation, with perhaps a toe into contemplation--the topic of our next blog! Notice the words “consider” and “could.” You’re actually not entering the point of change yet, but if you dive in and try these, you may nudge the needle a little closer to contemplation--actually thinking about making that change.

The primary task of precontemplation is simply to raise awareness.

And “helping” others change? Nope--not even going there.

For now,

  • doing your own work,

  • being compassionate with your own ambivalence and

  • practicing gentle consideration toward change

is a great way to raise your personal empathy and remember why change is hard for those we love.

Definitely continue to pray for people and offer empathy and support in their struggles! Those are gifts we can always offer. It's just important to remember it's not our job to "fix" others--or their lives. Change work is between you and God.

I’d love to hear how your work is going! Please comment below. You may find a friend in this group who’s ready to cheer you on.

And if you want 1:1 support on your journey, please contact me and discover how coaching can help you reach your goals.

Keep choosing joy!

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