That’s it. You’re fed up, and you’ve had enough. This time, something has to change!
Yay! I’m all about transformation. I think it’s awesome. But I also recognize that following through on that desire to change can be really, really hard.
That’s where understanding The Change Cycle can be helpful.
Let’s take a look at each stage of The Change Cycle:
Stage 1. Discontent. You realize that this thing that is bothering you is making you unhappy. This might be a situation at work, a health problem, a relationship issue, or something else. Whatever it is, you know that it is a point of pain in your life.
Stage 2. Breaking point. Enough is enough. You just can’t stand it anymore! The pain from this situation is too much to ignore.
Stage 3. Decision. You make the decision to change. You feel strong and determined.
So far, so good, right? Well, the next stage is where it starts to get difficult.
Stage 4. Fear. Ah, yes. Hello Fear, my old friend. You start to think, what if this change damages my important relationships? What if I lose my job? What if it doesn’t work out? What about all the unintended consequences that I can’t even imagine at this point?
Stage 5. Amnesia. At this point, you start to rationalize the pain away. You tell yourself that maybe it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was. You forget why you were so upset in the first place.
Stage 6. Backsliding. You allow yourself to settle back into the old pattern.
That’s not the end of it, of course. They call it a cycle for a reason.
Because once you settle back into the old pattern, the old pain point begins to reassert itself as well. Only this time, it’s worse. It keeps getting stronger and stronger each time you cycle through the different stages.
Thankfully, you can break the cycle.
Let’s go back to Stage 4. As Fear starts to rise, you’re going to confront it with the power of self-awareness and brutal honesty.
Take a look at how this change cycle has impacted your life. How much joy has it robbed you of? How many new opportunities have you missed? In what ways have you betrayed your authentic self? Where have you given away your power?
Are you ready for the cycle to stop? This isn’t a given. You might not be ready for this change to happen just yet, especially if it’s a big one. You might have more to learn from your situation. Or, you might need a bridge to help you become ready for the big change later. It’s OK to accept the truth of where you are.
Are you ready to accept responsibility? Nobody is responsible for making you happy, just as you are not responsible for the happiness of anyone else. You can choose to take responsibility for learning all that you can from your situation, for taking the steps that will prepare you to make the changes you want, and ultimately, to face your fears and change anyway.
When have you successfully broken the cycle before? You have made changes in your life before. Yay! Celebrate those victories, and let them encourage you and inspire you. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again.
Awareness is the key to breaking the cycle — or, to give yourself grace until you are ready to break the cycle.
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash