Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

Change is something that we all experience on various levels throughout different seasons of life. Sometimes these shifts are stress-free and other times they can be extremely challenging to manage and master. Change is not always welcomed or unwanted, but it is often necessary to make those modifications in order to lead a healthy and happy life.

Whether it be a change you are seeking in your own personal life or something you recognize is needed for someone close to you, it is very useful to know and recognize the different steps involved in making life changes. We hope that with this information you will be better positioned to succeed in these ventures by beginning to motivate yourself or encourage others to both initiate and master change.

For the purpose of explaining each stage we would like to provide an example scenario so that this is easier to follow. Let’s assume that one of your friends is addicted to pornography (adult content) and that this behavior has become very frequent or has started to damage their relationships/disrupt their daily responsibilities.  

The Five Stages of Change

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation (Not Ready to Change)

During this stage, your friend may not even recognize that there is something that needs to be changed about their behavior. Watching pornography has likely become second nature for them and they have made a routine of this activity. They don’t recognize that it may be effecting others or their own well-being even if it is apparent to an outsider.

In this stage, it is most helpful to gage your friend’s awareness of this issue. A great technique for this is to ask open ended questions about their consumption of pornography. By resorting to open ended questions, you will not be suggestive about the negative impact of this behavior (which is important during pre-contemplation since your friend is not viewing their pornography usage as a problem). This technique will allow you to avoid most defensive or negative reactions from your friend and hopefully lead them to the discovery of the issue.

Here are some examples of those talking points:

  • How would you know if you were watching too much pornography? What signs do you think you would see?
  • Has anyone ever told you that you watch too much pornography?
  • Have you ever thought about doing it less?


Stage 2: Contemplation (Getting Ready) 

At this point your friend realizes that watching pornography is something negative that they are doing. They have started to consider eliminating the activity but are not committed to doing so in any way. Just because something is wrong or has a negative impact on some facets of life does not always motivate someone to change that behavior. There are usually secondary benefits that they experience and do not wish to part with. Within this stage it is important to move toward encouraging the elimination of this behavior. Here are some helpful steps for moving forward to actually implementing change.

  • Identifying the behavior
    • This is where your friend will simply recognize their behavior:
      • Watching pornography is something that your friend knows is wrong, but will still do despite that realization.
    • Identifying the pros and cons of that behavior
      • Your friend understands what they like about the behavior and why they continue to perform it even though they know it is wrong:
        • Watching pornography makes them feel good because they are lonely or bored.
        • Pornography benefits them by allowing them to escape from reality.
        • Pornography makes them feel good.
      • Identifying the consequences of the behavior
        • Once the pros are recognized it is very important to measure the weight of the consequences:
          • Watching pornography makes it difficult for them to function normally.
          • Pornography makes them feel guilty and shameful.
          • Pornography causes trouble in their relationships with their spouse/significant other.
        • How would you benefit from eliminating the behavior?
          • To help encourage the change of this behavior it is good to focus on the positive things that could result from that change:
            • If they stopped watching pornography they would feel better about themselves.
            • Stopping pornography would improve their relationship with their spouse/significant other.
            • Eliminating this behavior will allow them to develop healthier habits.


Stage 3: Preparation (Ready)

At this point your friend is ready to start the process of change and has made moves to begin implementing it in the coming month. It is important that they are arming themselves with as much knowledge and encouragement as possible in preparation for the work ahead.

It is quite possible that your friend may have previously tried to stop viewing pornography, but failed. This is not uncommon because it can take multiple attempts for a change to be successful. It is important for your friend to evaluate how any previous attempts transpired in the past in order to reduce the chances that failure will occur again. Here are some of the questions that can help determine those things:

  • Have you tried to make this change before? What happened?
  • What helped you in making the change in the past? What made it more difficult?


Stage 4: Action (Implementation)

The implementation stage will be the point where steps are being made to adjust the behavior. This stage is different for everyone but it is usually the time when someone tries to stop the behavior, replace it, or seek consistent therapy to help and correct it. Support is very important during this time because people are usually having a hard time letting go of the benefits of that behavior.  Encouragement and positive reinforcement is key here!

Stage 5: Maintenance

The final stage of change is one that is often overlooked. Many people assume that once someone makes a change it is permanent, but it can often be a longer battle. There will always be certain challenges or temptations that can emerge over time which may tempt someone to resort to their old ways. Once healthier habits have formed it is important to hold on to those and continuously re-evaluate how to make them better and stronger. Support groups and long-term therapy have proven helpful in this stage.

We hope that this has been useful information for you and will benefit you as you continue to face the many changes in life. Again, these changes come in many forms ranging from looking for a new job to severe addiction and each scenario deserves attention, focus and commitment.

One of the leading reasons that people are unable to adapt to change is lack of resources, so we hope that you will continue to use Cornerstone as a resource throughout your many life ventures. Give us a call today if we can help with your journey towards successful life changes.

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