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How Not to Let Traumas Defeat You

How Not to Let Traumas Defeat You

Why do people fail?

Surprisingly, it’s not usually down to a lack of talent, ability or motivation.

In fact, plenty of very intelligent people fail for one simple reason: they lack resilience.

If you want to enjoy life, be successful, and cope well in a difficult world, you need to build up resilience.

Read on to find out how.

What is resilience?

Simply put, resilience is the ability to deal with whatever life throws at you without giving up.

Being resilient means being able to bounce back, even after something really bad happens.

One key characteristic of successful people is that they aren’t afraid to keep trying after they fail, and that’s because they’ve learned to be resilient.

Here’s an example:

Two people go to interviews for their dream job. Neither of them get the job.

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Person 1 is resilient. He doesn’t let a small setback knock him down, and he keeps applying for other jobs. Soon enough, he gets one – and it’s even better than the original job!

Person 2 isn’t resilient. When he doesn’t get the job, he loses all confidence. He thinks he’s a failure, that he should never have bothered trying, and that he might as well give up now. He stops applying for the jobs he really wants, and sticks with a career well below his ability level.

Want to learn more about how resilience can make you successful?

Read this article: Why There Are So Few Successful People in the World: Talents Are Overrated

How to become more resilient

Ready to start your journey towards resilience?

Here are some great places to start.

Learn to overcome trauma

Had a bad experience in the past that’s put you off trying again?

Maybe you fell off a bike while learning, and got too afraid to get back in the saddle?

Learning to overcome difficult memories is the first step towards building resilience.

Here’s an idea of how to get started:

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  • Accept what happened, and how it affected you.
  • Don’t feel like you shouldn’t be upset because ‘other people have it worse’.
  • Don’t set a strict timeline – let yourself overcome issues in your own time.
  • Ask for help. This could be from family, friends, or medical professionals.
  • Practice acceptance. You can’t change what happened, but it doesn’t have to take over your life.
  • Meditate and focus on all the things you have to be grateful for.

Want to read more about overcoming trauma?

Read this: How to Overcome a Trauma and Be Even Stronger Than Before

Look at how fear rules your life

Do you make decisions to avoid what you’re afraid of, rather than to move towards what you want?

Many of us live our lives ruled by fear – and this means we miss out on great opportunities and new experiences.

It takes time to overcome fear, but it is possible.

Start by identifying your fears, and trying to get to the root of them. Maybe you’re afraid of the unknown, of criticism, or of being rejected by others.

Try to imagine the worst case scenarios in each situation – often you’ll realize that they really aren’t that bad.

Want to learn more about how fear could be damaging your life?

Read this: How Fear Is Deep-Rooted in Our Everyday Life and Controlling Us

Learn to overcome fear

No matter what you fear, overcoming it is a worthwhile goal.

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Try a targeted approach to overcoming fear with this challenge:

30 Days Without Fear: A Plan That Will Make You Feel So Carefree Like Never Before

You’ll practice and develop fear-busting skills like:

  • Keeping a fear journal.
  • Creating more ‘me’ time.
  • Speaking in public.
  • Exercising daily.
  • Visiting new places.
  • Communicating in a more confident way.
  • Trying new, scary activities
  • Resolving conflict.

At the end of the 30 days you’ll feel like you’re ready to face anything.

Is resilience the same as optimism?

No. This is a common myth.

Of course it’s good to try and be positive – but blind optimism can actually do a lot of harm.

When something bad happens, do you brush it off, acting like you don’t care at all?

Suppressing your emotions in this way can be really harmful, and is actually the opposite of resilience.

Resilience means allowing yourself to experience difficult feelings and working through them in a healthy way – not pretending they don’t exist.

Optimist can also blind us to important things.

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If you feel bad about a job, it could be a sign for you to move onto to something new.

If you’re unhappy in the place you live, maybe it’s time to relocate?

Listening to your emotions can help you to make decisions that change your life for the better. Ignoring them could lead to missed opportunities for positive change.

Want to know more about how optimism differs from resilience?

Read this: Why You Shouldn’t Aim at Being an Optimistic Person

Take the resilience test to track your journey

So, you’ve started taking steps to become more resilient.

But how do you know that they’re working?

As well as looking out for benefits in your day-to-day life, you could trying taking this resilience test.

Be sure to make a note of your score and keep retaking the test to see how much you’ve improve.

Want to be strong enough to deal with whatever life throws at you?

Start developing resilience today.

More by this author

Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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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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