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Letting Go Is Not Giving up, It’s Taking the First Step to Taking Back Control

Letting Go Is Not Giving up, It’s Taking the First Step to Taking Back Control

Letting go can sometimes feel a lot like giving up. You may feel that you are betraying the part of yourself that believes you can still make things work. But by dragging out the inevitable until it’s tattered and torn, you are only betraying yourself. That’s why you need to love yourself more, put yourself first, cut your losses, and move on.

Forgetting an ex is exactly like kicking an addiction.

Turning your back on something that you still want can be one of the most emotionally exhausting endeavors that you can hope to endure. And although you feel that you’re amidst a groundbreaking existential crisis, what you are experiencing is actually purely chemical. During a breakup, your brain generates dopamine in excess. Dopamine [1] is what causes you to obsess and over-analyze your circumstances. You’re literally addicted to your ex. But like all addictions, this too can be kicked to the curb.

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Regardless of the good times, it’s time to move forward.

I’m sure your ex was great “if you got to know them.” But you’re a better, stronger person without them and soon all of these bad feelings will be a thing of the past.

The Process of Letting Go

As with any loss, there is a grieving process that you need to go through to get all of the negativity out of your system and avoid a relapse somewhere down the line. Most of us are guilty of reaching out to an ex in a moment of weakness. The healing process is difficult and different for everyone. You may experience these emotions in a different sequence, or revisit some of the steps [2]. The important thing is that you are working through it.

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1. Denial

Perhaps you don’t want to believe that it’s really over. You keep checking your phone to see if their name pops up. Maybe tomorrow they’ll change their tune and things will go right back to normal. Although you know that it’s over, you can’t help but entertain scenarios where it somehow works out. Your entire world is turned on its side, completely unbalanced without your “other half.” During this phase you need to refrain from reaching out. Your attempt to fix things could just be adding insult to injury.

2. Anger

It’s finally starting to set in. This is real. It’s really over. You’re starting to overwhelm yourself with bad memories, all of the times that they did you wrong. You start placing blame, resenting them for ruining something beautiful. Or perhaps you’re angry with yourself. You’re struggling with some underlying guilt that maybe you’re the reason that this had to end. Whether or not you feel justified by your animosity, you can’t hang on to that. Whatever they did to you, whatever you did to them, you need to forgive. Forgive them, forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. And if it goes deeper than a simple mistake, where vindictiveness and a lack of respect come into play, all more reason to move on.

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3. Bargaining

This is a bit of a relapse period- you were bound to have one. This is the phase where you try to get your ex back by any means possible. You may make promises to change, threaten their well-being or reputation, or inform them that they are hurting others by their decision not to be with you. You’ll negotiate huge life changes in order to facilitate the failing relationship. Some people even take it a step farther by getting friends and family involved, or even spiritual mediums like visits with psychics or prayer. Perhaps this could save your relationship- but the chances aren’t likely. Just be sure you’re not sacrificing your self worth in an effort to get them back. You always need to love yourself more.

4. Depression

At this point, you’ve probably completely convinced yourself that you’ll never find love again. All feels lost, and you don’t feel like yourself anymore. Depression takes on many different forms, rearing its ugly head when we’re at our most vulnerable. You may find it hard to get out of bed, or a lack of motivation to do anything at all. You feel alone in a crowded room. You experience a loss of appetite, inability to sleep; or just the opposite, you sleep too much. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not pathetic for feeling so low. But you need to pick yourself back up. Use baby steps. Practice some self care. Run yourself a nice bubble bath, create a playlist of all of your favorite songs, grab a batch of your favorite ice cream, put on your favorite chick flick that you can blubber to and just veg out. Give yourself this time to ground yourself so that you can spring up once again, as strong and vibrant as ever.

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5. Acceptance

Phew. We made it! I mean, you made it. You’ve avoided all of the trips and traps of falling back into the motions of your inevitably ending relationship. You’ve crashed, you’ve burned, and made some mistakes. But all is well, and you’re still breathing. And every breath you take is yours. Every step you take can lead you in whichever direction you wish. You’re stronger and wiser now, and have a better on grasp on what you’re willing to accept in a relationship from this point on. Take this time to really get to know yourself, and what you want out of life. Realize that you don’t need anyone to complete you; you are already complete. You will find love again, so don’t worry. Fall back in love with yourself. Your radiance will attract suitable partners who will compliment and balance you.

Reference

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2018

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3]Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5]Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6]The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7]Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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