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Why It Is a Lie That Time Heals All Wounds

Why It Is a Lie That Time Heals All Wounds

It is difficult losing someone you love, whether it is caused by a death or from a breakup. You may battle with various emotions or reactions, which is a normal for the different stages of grief.

You have seen people who, after breaking up, give the impression that they have moved on. Sometimes, they seem to do it almost immediately. You see the photos on social media of them drunk at party and surrounded by hoards of people having “fun”. Or there may be cryptic status updates with quotes from anyone from Buddha to Adele.

Yet what is not on display are the nights they spend crying, asking for other people’s advice and obsessing. It may take weeks, months or even years before they can finally move on.

In fact, there are seven stages of grief according to the Kubler-Ross cycle:[1]

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  • Shock – Feeling numb with disbelief protects you emotionally from being overwhelmed.
  • Denial – Once the shock wears off, you can’t believe this is happening and everything feels surreal.
  • Anger – The next stage will give way to feeling angry and even lashing out at others.
  • Bargaining – You feel very confused and as a result, you look for desperate ways out of this anguish that you feel.
  • Depression – A period of sadness takes over and you may be reflective of what was lost. You may feel lonely or in despair.
  • Testing – The reality is starting to sink in and you may go through experimenting with things to do that may help you to move on.
  • Acceptance – In the final stage, you will have accepted the situation and started to move forward.

It’s never easy to get through all these stages, but reaching the last stage of grief is essential for everyone to live on. Everyone will experience the stages of grief differently because the relationships we have are different and the way we handle emotions is not the same.

For someone mourning over a death, acceptance does not mean you are okay with the loss.

It is more that you have accepted the reality that they are no longer here. Even though you still think about them, the way you think about them has changed.

Your focus is different. Previously, you may have been engulfed in the stages of grief but your life has settled back into an old (or new) routine. Even though life may never again be the same, you are moving forward and may even start feeling more hopeful about the future.

For someone mourning the end of a relationship, acceptance means opening up to a new life.

With high insight, you can see why the relationship didn’t work out and why you are better off for it.

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When your phone goes, you no longer hope that it will be your ex. You don’t check up on them on their social media as you no longer feel interested or concerned about what they are doing in their life.

They are not on a pedestal and you are either dating other people, have met someone else, or are happily single. You no longer hope you will get back together

To truly move on, don’t rely on time.

It is not that time heals wounds, it has more to do with the fact that time has passed and you have done something to enable healing.[2]

This could be crying, having reflection, or refocusing your energy. The stages of grief may not be the same for everyone, and people heal in different ways.

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Grieving is normal as it comes as a result of loving. By not fighting the stages of grief, it will enable you to start working towards a future that does not feel as dark.[3]

Accepting support from others doesn’t mean you are weak.

It is ok to let your guard down and turn to friends or family for support. Surround yourself with love and those who have your best interest at heart. They will help you to be strong when you do not know how to be strong for yourself.

For the people who do not have a strong network of friends or family, life sometimes has a magical way of bringing new people into our lives just when we need them.

You can also speak to your doctor who may be able to put you in touch with a support group. Your doctor can also give you advice on finding a counsellor if you would like one.

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Not only do positive distractions make you happier, but also inspire you to grow.

Find avenues to allow your mind to focus on something else. For example, you could try writing, reading or drawing.

It could also be prayers, meditation or in some other way with which you can identify. For instance, I enjoy reading quantum physics or astrophysics journals, and it also reminds me of the bigger picture of life and our universe.

There is always a positive outlet to channel your emotions.

There’s no need to push yourself too hard, take your time to move on.

If you are not quite there yet, know that this is also okay. Take your time.

And if you still feel a little broken, know this: you are not broken, light still shines perfectly through every one of those cracks.

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

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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