Ask an Expert
Q: I have struggled for years to change my eating, exercise, and overall habits. Why do I always find myself reverting back to my old ways instead of creating permanent behavior change?
A: You are not alone! Despite a long career in the field of psychology and counseling, I too, like everyone else, find myself struggling to initiate change at times and maintain change at other times.
Without a doubt the most useful tool in my toolbox when it comes to initiating or maintaining change has been a book entitled “Changing for Good” by Drs. Prochaska, Norcross & DiClemente. Prior to its publication most people believed that change was black or white – either a person is taking action or they are not. Period. Their groundbreaking research showed that there are actually six stages a person must go through to create permanent behavior change: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance, and Termination.
One of the keys to initiating change and effectively moving through the six stages is psychologically increasing the “pros” of changing while simultaneously decreasing the “cons” of changing. This is achieved by implementing a variety of strategies such as raising your level of consciousness, creating emotional arousal, controlling your environment, and enlisting loved ones and / or professionals for help and support.
To be successful it is crucial to utilize the right strategies with the corresponding stages. When this is accomplished not only does change take place, but it is more sustainable.
Change is never easy. It can, however, be simple and straightforward.
Chris Berger M.A., NCC
From Northern Colorado Mind & Body