Are there moments in time where you seriously consider making some changes surrounding your food habits or your weight? Contemplating change is an important stage to go through on the way to achieving success. Yet it is common to get seriously stuck in contemplation – sometimes for years and years. Continue reading and learn how to best utilize contemplation to strengthen your internal motivation and pave the road to change.
What is Contemplation?
People don’t wake up one day and suddenly proclaim, “I’d like to change.” Instead, we are generally set in our ways, resistant to change, and uncertain about moving out of our individual comfort zones. Contemplation is an important step that happens before actual change takes place. Contemplation involves an interest and curiosity about creating change as you take an honest look at where you are and where you want to be. Instead of pretending an issue does not exist, you decide to look at the pros and cons of changing your weight, the way you eat, or the way you handle your emotions.
One of the activities that occurs during contemplation is making a mental checklist and noting all the ways that food and/or your weight affects the quality of your life. For instance, you may have come to realize some of these insights:
o you live on junk food and that doesn’t feel good
o your energy levels aren’t as high as you would like them to be
o you crave certain foods or find yourself binge eating
o you are preoccupied with food
o you have certain health problems related to food/weight
o your weight affects your ability to move
o your body wouldn’t mind some exercise
o you are tired of this problem
The Importance of Contemplating Change
James Prochaska(1), author of “Changing For Good” recognized that before we actually engage in the physical action of making change happen, we first contemplate change. He defines this stage as an important phase during which we realize that, “I’m not happy, but I’m not sure what to do.” During this stage, there is a sense of wanting life to be different, but there is also anxiety and fear of failing. It is a time of consideration during which an individual is aware of a problem, yet currently undecided about whether or not he or she wants to do anything about it.
The word contemplation itself comes from ‘con’ meaning “to examine carefully,” and ‘templar’ referring to a period of time. Contemplation means that you are giving yourself the time to examine your life situation or issue and decide if you want to make any changes. This is an important step on your path to lasting change. It’s a period of time when you allow yourself the grace to examine your situation and be undecided for a period of time. When you’re in this stage of contemplation, it is helpful to evaluation the many issues surrounding your problem. For example, you can:
o attempt to understand the problem and why you have it
o wonder about possible solutions
o imagine all the wonderful potentials of life without the problem
o consider various plans about taking action sometime in the future
The Contemplation Stage of Change is an important stage to go through on the way to achieving success. However, contemplation is also a place of uncertainty and indecision. It is sort of like sitting on the fence. You want to change, but there is no commitment, and no deliberate decision to change. It is common to get seriously stuck here – sometimes for years and years. Some people remain stuck considering change but never doing anything about it for the rest of their lives. Even though change is wanted, our natural resistance to change also opposes it.
Reasons for getting stuck in the Contemplation Stage include:
o continuing to think about the problem when the urge for action is felt
o searching endlessly for absolute certainty about what caused the problem
o waiting for the right time to change
o wishful thinking, “I wish this problem would just go away by itself.”
o wanting guarantees of the outcome ahead of time
Generating Motivation to Move Forward Into Action
If you are considering changing your weight or eating habits, utilize the power of contemplation by fully exploring your situation. During contemplation, consider putting some of the following suggestions into practice:
o gather information about your situation
o become clear on your own personal reasons for wanting to change
o consider the pros and cons of change vs. no change
o explore how your problem conflicts with your core values (i.e. you are an honest person but binge secretly)
o list the behaviors you want to change
o take an honest look at the cost of change
o look at the positive future gains that change will bring
o become aware of what you are eating
o collect data about the feelings, thoughts, emotions and/or external events which come before and after your eating behavior happens
o imagine your feelings about yourself and your life in the future, both with and without change
o visualize success
o review different types of support
Contemplation is the first step to a healthier and happier you! Taking the time to sort through your thoughts and feelings allows you to reach the next stage, which is . . . Action! When the moment arises when you know you it is time to take action, allow yourself the love to follow through!
(1) Prochaska, James; Norcross, John; DiClemente, Carlo. Changing For Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program For Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward. Avon Books, 1994.
Dr. Annette Colby, RD can help you take the pain out of life, turn difficult emotions into joy, release stress, end emotional eating, and move beyond depression into an extraordinary life! Annette is the author of Your Highest Potential [http://www.TheHighestPotential.com/] and has the unique ability to show you how to spark an amazing relationship with your life! Visit www.LovingMiracles.coml [http://www.LovingMiracles.com/] to access hundreds of content filled articles and sign up for a Fr’ee subscription to Loving Miracles! newsletter.