As a constant student of alternative health, sometimes I am more open to learning and adapting new ideas and behaviors than other times. This seems to be the case with people around me too. Some people are open to alternative health ideas and want to learn more. Some people have already learned new ideas and are ready to adapt new behaviors. Others have jumped into new behaviors and are working on keeping it going. Understanding where I am and where others are on a subject or idea, helps me understand myself and others. I like to meet people wherever they are on their journey so that I can learn from them, support and relate to them and be as present in their journey as possible.
So when I came across the the “5 Stages of Change” AKA “Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change,” I new I had found some thing helpful. This model gives me a clear framework to consider when I am seeking or adopting change myself. However what I love more about this model is how it helps me communicate with others. Instead of jumping into a conversation wherever I am on an issue, I learned how to recognize where someone else might be and in turn, how that would affect our discussion. This understanding has enabled me to have more interesting and impactful connections. And as a side note, these 5 changes can help with kids too!
The basic idea is that we all go through stages when we are making a change. The stages are:
- Precontemplation – this is when you are not even interested in making any changes in the next 6 months. This before you are even thinking about doing it.
- Contemplation – when you are considering something. You might be thinking of the pros and cons and deciding if you really want to do it or not.
- Preparation – when you are about to make a change.
- Action – you make a change
- Maintenance – you are keeping up your change.
If I can identify where I am or someone else is with these stages, then I can understand how to better connect with myself or that person. For example, if I have a friend whose teen is on pharmaceuticals for their acne, then I might realize that they are in precontemplation regarding using diet and lifestyle changes to heal their acne. With this realization, I would share information on teens, acne and functional medicine. I would look to present the idea to them that they could address acne another way (educate), since most likely, they don’t even know that another way exists. (By the way, this was me for over 20 years!) On another hand, if I have a friend who has been learning about functional medicine to address her psoriasis and she is in her first day or two of going dairy free per her functional docs recommendation (she is taking action) then I might offer to bring over a dairy free dinner or share a couple of recipes that she might like to use that week. I would offer things that would support her action.
In actuality, this theory has many more layers of detail and information if you are curious and you want to learn more. I love and need simple. So this is my simplified version for my daily life. By keeping things clear and simple, I can stay conscientious of these stages and in turn be a better person, friend, mother, wife and neighbor. This framework enables me to understand where I am, where another might be, and how we can come together on common ground. I have used this thought process every time I am given the opportunity to share about functional medicine with others. I hope it helps you too!