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Spring, New Beginnings and How to Make Change Easy PDF Print E-mail

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"  ~ Robin Williams

There’s a spring smell in the air. Colourful flowers are bursting from tiny buds. Trees are sprouting millions of tender new leaves. Do you feel the feeling of “hope” and “new beginnings” and “possibility” when you wake up in the morning?

Traditionally, spring is the season of new beginnings and rebirth. In keeping with what happens around us, we often feel like starting a new habit or behaviour in our lives. Things like,

  • I’m going to lose those unsightly winter rolls before December
  • I’m definitely going to eat more healthy foods
  • I want to cut down on my smoking
  • I’m going to spend quality time with my family

An important factor we easily leave out of our noble intentions and plans is that human beings don’t just suddenly change. Most of us find change quite daunting and even scary. We stick to what’s comfortable – that’s where the safety is.

In order to bring about change successfully and permanently, there are a number of great tools we can use. One of them is a model that measures are “readiness to change”. Failure to take our readiness into account often leads to the “New Year’s Resolution syndrome” where failure is a very likely outcome – again!

Let’s say I want to lose those few kilos before December. What most of us don’t realise when we want to implement a major change is that are no less than SIX phases of change to go through before the change has been successful. If we are aware of these phases, it’s much easier to negotiate the bumpy territory we might find ourselves in for the next couple of months (or years).

  1. In the Pre-Contemplation Phase, a person does not even consider changing. It’s during those cold winter months when we need chocolate “to keep warm” and can’t even begin to contemplate giving up a 3rd mug of Milo. It could play out as a form of denial, or as an “I’ve given up” feeling because of many past failures. Trying is not an option. It’s everyone else that has the problem if they glance at my stacked plate. We might feel reluctant, rebellious, resigned or rationalise our current weight or eating habits.

 

  1. The Contemplation Phase follows, where we start thinking about a new behaviour or habit. We might be a bit more open to receiving information or looking at the situation we find ourselves in. However - there is much ambivalence about any proposed change. There’s a feeling of “I want to be thin” AND “I don’t want to do this”. There might be a sense of “I know I have to give up the chocolate/crisps/croissants, BUT…”  And there might already be a sense of loss or deprivation about what will have to be “given up”.

 

  1. In the Preparation Phase, a person has moved into making plans for changing. We might start looking for healthy meal plans, getting rid of the cookies in the tin (in small bits), or go and visit a gym to find out about programs they offer. In this Phase we still haven’t started the new diet and we’re certainly not taking the stairs instead of the elevator. We’re merely sampling, getting ready, dipping our toe and feeling our way into it. The major concern during this phase is “If I start, will I fail?”

 

  1. The Action Phase is finally where we make a noticeable change. We start our new diet (of course, usually on a Monday!), we visit the gym. We opt for healthier meals, say “no” to temptations and real change starts to happen. This is usually the only phase that we consider when we want to change. In the world we live in, action is applauded and people say things like “Don’t tell me, SHOW me!”  We mistakenly think that a new behaviour is as easy as just taking action. Not so, if you look at the millions of failed New Year’s Resolutions.

 

  1. 5. People who are in the Maintenance/Relapse Phase, have started their new behaviour, diet, exercise programs or other actions more than 6 months ago. It’s here where we realise we’re in it for the “long haul”. We can become complacent in this stage and this is where we can sometimes think “Just this once surely won’t make a difference??” Most people find themselves cycling through the stages of change a few times before the changes become truly established.

 

  1. The Termination Phase is where you feel 100% sure that your new habit is established. Your body looks wonderful, you love eating healthily, you easily opt for the salad instead of “slap chips”. You can’t imagine that you could ever go back to the “old you”.

How can we use the Stages of Change Model to start our new habit easily?

  • Be aware of what stage you’re in. If you’ve just decided today that maybe a diet is a good idea and you feel ambivalent, DON’T start your diet tomorrow. Go through the model again and move to the next level first.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare – create meal plans, work out a new schedule to include exercise, throw out or give away the unhealthy foods in the cupboard
  • The goal of each phase is just to move to the next phase – nothing more. Don’t skip phases to hurry the process
  • Important: For every phase – find an EFT Practitioner that can help you work through the thoughts, feelings and memories of past failures. I mention EFT because it’s the single most effective form of “getting over stuff” that I have found. And it’s the “stuff” that keeps us stuck in the past.

EFT Tips for Each Stage:

Pre-Contemplation

  • Work on the feeling of anger, intrusion, resistance or rebellion if it feels like others are making comments or criticizing your current behaviour (like eating too much, eating the wrong foods, not exercising).

Contemplation

  • Work on ambivalence, fear of failure and the fear of loss.
  • Ask yourself: “What would the consequences/reaction be when I start my new way of being?” This includes your own as well as that of others!
  • We might be afraid of losing friends (who used to enjoy food with us), family might make comments, we fear deprivation, feeling left out. All of these feelings, if not sorted out, will cause us to stumble eventually!

Preparation

  • Work on feelings of anxiety around the impending change. It’s also important to work on the anxiety around high-risk situations.
  • What might happen if my friends invite me to have a pizza? Identify high risk areas, work on the anxiety around each and find possible alternatives.

Action

  • Work on grief/loss issues. Eg the loss of a friend, missing a certain food, loss of being able to sleep in if you now go to gym early-morning.
  • Work on irrational statements that might arise like “I have to be loved by everyone”, or “I can’t make mistakes” or “I’ll be a failure”.
  • Work on assertiveness! You might have to find ways of saying “no” to situations you used to say yes to. This can lead to anxiety. Do EFT for the anxiety around saying “no”, and find a way to increase your skills in this area (a later article will cover many different ways to do this).

Maintenance

  • Be aware of situations that may tempt you to slip back into selecting unhealthy food—particularly stressful situations. Be aware of self-blame, daily temptations and overconfidence!
  • Make EFT a daily routine to tap away the stresses of each day – the chances of relapsing will decrease dramatically.

The simple fact is that most of us don’t eat when we’re hungry – we eat when life throws us challenges and we cover up the anxiety (or other uncomfortable emotions) this way.

Learning and using EFT and being aware of the Stages of Change can increase your success for new beginnings and change dramatically!

To find out more about EFT, go to www.eftacademysa.co.za or www.eftuniverse.com. On the EFT Academy website, free charts and information are available to get you started.

Liesel Teversham
Co-Founder, The EFT Academy of Southern Africa

www.eftacademysa.co.za

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