“You should go see someone about that problem.” “Have you tried acupuncture/counseling/EFT/reiki…etc.? I bet it would help you; here’s my practitioner’s number.”
Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of such statements? It’s certainly well meaning. Sometimes it’s crystal clear to us that someone else needs help with something, and we believe that we know just what will help them. When that person makes the appointment to see someone, they may go in saying, “my friend/mother/brother said I should see you.”
But what if that person isn’t ready to heal or change at that time? Have you ever known that you needed to make a change, but needed the time and space to prepare yourself for that change? There’s a popular and useful model of change that was put forward in the book Changing for Good quite some years ago. The model consists of six main stages of change:
- Precontemplation – not ready
- Contemplation – getting ready
- Preparation – ready
- Action – starting to make the change
- Maintenance – keeping up the new behaviour
- Termination – old behaviour is no longer an issue
Seeking help for a problem, behaviour or situation that you would like to change is most effective when you are in the Preparation or Action stages. Going to see a practitioner too soon when you are not really ready will end up costing you time, money and frustration. It’s not that there’s something wrong with you; you may simply be at one of the earlier stages in your healing around that particular issue.
A health practitioner that I know told me that she once had a client, who, when asked where he had heard about her, pulled out a card from his wallet and said, “I’ve been carrying this around for about four years. A friend told me I should see you.” Perhaps he wasn’t even fully aware that he needed help when the well-intentioned friend gave him the card (Precontemplation stage). His timeline to get to the Action state was four years, which was absolutely perfect for him.
Sometimes we simply can’t rush the timing of when we are actually ready to change. That change may involve letting go of parts of us, beliefs, habits, old identities. It’s not that we should abandon our efforts at self-change, but a gentle tuning into ourselves and acknowledging in what stage we may find ourselves may help us become more self-aware. This self-awareness alone often creates shifts and the impetus within us for deeper change and healing.
When you notice that you are getting ready, that change feels like it’s on your horizon, then you’ll know that you’re close to the Action stage, and it’s a great time to line up support for the shifts you’ll be making!