It is no joke that we are currently living in a world where things continue to change. Change is a constant part of life, now more than ever, change is happening at the speed of light. One day we wake up hopeful about the changes happening around us and the next day we wake up in despair feeling depleted and hopeless that nothing will ever change for the greater good. Every time change occurs, it requires us to adapt to keep surviving in a world full of uncertain possibilities.
Thinking about where we were two years ago, we never thought that our safety would be compromised. Thinking about where we are now, two years later—still going through a pandemic that wiped the world of safety we once knew, all the environmental changes and disasters, the increased violence all around the globe, the loss of lives too soon too often, the influence of political outcomes, and most recently, the divide in people between the vaccinated and the not. Leaving a mark on all of us. Some feel unsafe leaving their homes, insecure transitioning back to their workplace, perilous in their own home, some have moved and left their homes behind, experienced major life transitions, and others feel terrified running errands to meet their basic daily needs.
While we go through these changes that are happening so fast, one after the other feeling like we didn’t get the time we needed to adapt to the first change before the second one came along, it is important that we become aware of what happens in our minds as we experience this ambiguity moving forward. As we experience unfamiliar territories accompanied with uncomfortable feelings of fear, guilt, frustration, anxiety, depression, grief, shame, and doubt. It is vital to be cognizant of how our mental, emotional, and physical existence has transformed along the way. It is even more important to be aware of how we can build insight to become more agile and successful in navigating the waters we are swimming in.
One of the essential concepts to be mindful of so we can better understand our new reality, our new truth, our “new normal” is the five stages of change. The five stages of change are the stages of change we go through whenever we experience adversity and the growing pains of leaving our familiarity. If we experience these stages of change in a positive manner, we start to realize that our comfort zone was never really as comfortable as we originally thought it was. We shift and grow our mindset to start seeing the beauty around us that has been hiding behind the limits that we previously set for ourselves. Knowing these stages of change helps to expand our comfort zone, become more resilient and foster a mentality that pushes through any challenges that come our way.
I invite you to join me on this journey. Let’s explore the stages of change and as you continue reading this, I encourage you to reflect on how you experienced these stages of change for yourself because it is unfair to say we all had the same experience. You are unique, you know yourself best, and you have the power to shape your story and write your narrative in a way that manifests your strengths and the positive outcomes you are routing for—or the contrary. Keeping in mind that it is ok if you didn’t have the best experience so far. A lot has happened during these trying times, and many unexpected tragedies occurred.
So here we go…
Stage #1 – Pre-contemplation
This is the stage when we first become aware that things changed, and we are denying that they did. We don't want to believe a change happened, we want to go to bed and wake up as if nothing ever changed. We want to keep going on about our lives the same way we were before this change ever occurred. We live in a state of denial, wanting things to go back to how they were before concluding that the way things were is how we got to be where we are now. We feel internally out of control and we try to hold on to what we knew and what we were certain of.
Stage #2 – Contemplation
This is the stage when we start contemplating the new reality. We come to terms things will not go back to how they were and we get underway thinking about how they are going to be. We go through this back and forth, part of our mind is living in the past and the other part of our mind is living in the future. We keep alternating between the two realities feeling conflicted. Remember when you thought the “new normal” is things going back to how they were, yet part of you knew that it was new. That’s this stage where we live through this void between the knowing and the unknown—the losses and the gains of the past and future. We bargain our past reality and the uncertainty of the future. We begin separating our thoughts of what we once were able to control and no longer can. We scrutinize our actions or lack of and their impact on our wellbeing.
Stage #3 – Preparation
This is the stage where we accept the past for what it is and decide to leave it there and we start thinking about how to get ready for the future. We start to prepare our minds for what we need to do differently. We start to mentally and emotionally plan for the next physical stage, our next move. We bridge the gap between the old and new to build modified pathways in our brains. These pathways help us process as we connect the past with the present to decide how we want our future to be. We conclude that we need a new foundation. We analyze our observations; we acknowledge what we can no longer control and turn toward strategizing an action plan that recognizes we can only control what we choose to do.
Stage #4 – Action
This is the stage where we start making changes; we take action on the plan we created in the previous stage. We test the new waters and explore how it feels. We take new risks, we step out of our automatic habits, we intentionally choose to be in the present moment. We become aware of our new reality as we are actively perceiving it and making sense of it. We begin to believe that change is not so bad after all. We recognize that change needs to happen within us because it already happened around us. We go through a mental shift in our perception as we invite positivity, vitality, and hope for a better outcome. This is the stage where we successfully and intentionally create our individual profound new normal by our modified actions. We take responsibility for our steps because every step we take leads us to our chosen destination. We break through the old and create the new. Achieving this stage is the hardest, it requires us to make progress and tangible results. Doing so successfully invites us to keep moving to the next stage.
Stage #5 – Maintenance
This maintenance stage is when we accomplish our desired purpose that we know works for us. The consistent intent supplied us with emotional arousal resulting in feeling rewarded. We stabilize our growth, we appreciate all the positive changes, all the gains, we declare our modified behavior is part of who we want to be. This is the stage of preservation, it feels calm, it feels peaceful, it feels like the normal routine. The misery and suffering we witnessed have finally been resolved. Our wisdom, development, and transition have settled. We go from surviving to thriving. We are presently living on purpose to become an inspiration in a world full of limitless possibilities.
As we go through these stages of change, understand they don’t always happen linearly, we can recycle these stages over and over again at any point and any stage. As we continue to reprocess and recover until we find what works for us until we overcome our limiting believes. Those fears that held us back, the doubts and hardships that caused us to relapse, and the tenacity, perseverance, and determination that guided us to get to where we are today. In the knowing, it is your choice what you choose to do about it moving forward. Knowing where you genuinely are will guide you in establishing a new balance with intention. It will help you help yourself to cultivate equilibrium and be a catalyst to a satisfying and fulfilling future. Ultimately, when we accomplish these stages of change, we commence our achievements, celebrate our triumphs, and we find our silver lining.
So, reflecting on the past two years now, think about what you have lost and what have you gained. What changes you have made, how they have impacted you personally and those around you. If you find yourself stuck in one of these stages and unable to keep moving, reflect on what is keeping you there? And what will it take for you to overcome your misfortune so you can flourish and create the life you deserve.
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About Sam Nabil
Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com
Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world. Naya Clinics also offers Online marriage counseling, online therapy, and online life coaching.
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