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It's a Process

Change can be challenging. Especially when we are trying to change something that has been a part of our lives for years.

Prochaska and Diclemente outline five stages of change: Precontemplation, where one is not really considering change, Contemplation, where consideration emerges, followed by Preparation, where planning and commitment happens. The third stage, Action, is where steps are taken to make the identified change, and, if continued, builds into the Maintenance stage where the behavior continues until it becomes the norm.

Dr Nedley overlays his own interpretation of the stages of change by focusing on competence both conscious and unconscious. Unconsciously Incompetent--the stage where we aren't even really aware we have a problem. In this stage we really need information and education. Consciously Incompetent--we are aware there is something that might need to change, we continue to gain knowledge about the issue deepening our desire to change. Consciously Competent--we begin to make the change and we have to work hard to keep it in our mind, making the changes and being consistent. We begin to see the benefits of the change. Unconsciously Competent--The behavior starts becoming an unconscious habit and a natural part of your life. You experience the benefits of the change.

The process of change is not linear. We may cycle and return to an earlier stage at any time on our journey to unconscious competence. Knowing the where we are at in the process can help us identify how to proceed. If I'm not totally convinced giving up caffeine is for me, I may need to educate myself on the impact of caffeine on my brain and body. I might need to experiment several times to see how my body responds. And I need to be patient with myself and others in the process.

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