The Process Of Change
January is often a time of change. We start off the new year with the best of intentions; some of them stick, some of them don’t. While our enthusiasm and motivation ride high at the beginning of change, we need to keep the momentum going in order to create lasting transformation. Awareness of how we make changes and learn new skills is a helpful part of our plan to change. This awareness can help us to predict our path to change, help us to recognize our own progression on the path, and can keep us from getting discouraged when it feels as though we’ll never reach our goal.
There are two components to change: our level of awareness, and our skill level. This visual representation helps us to understand how the two fit together:
|Level of Awareness||unconscious||conscious||conscious||unconscious|
We start out at a place where we don’t have the skills we desire, but we don’t even realize that we don’t have them. Essentially, we don’t know what we don’t know.
We then move to a place where we still lack the skills, but we now know what we are missing. If you are reading parenting books, for example, or are considering alternatives to nagging your kids, you fall into this second category.
We next move to a place where we have the skills, but we need to work at using them. While we have the ability, we need to consciously remember to use the skills and use them correctly each time.
Finally, we end in the far right section of the diagram, where we use the skills we have without even thinking about them. They come naturally, we make decisions and take actions easily and efficiently, and we would confidently say that we have “changed”.
Whether your New Year’s Resolution is to increase cooperation within your family, get healthier, or adjust your work schedule so that you have more time for family, these steps are all the same. We can’t skip steps, but we move through them at our own pace, depending on the skill being learned. And while we may not progress through the stages smoothly or uniformly, the good news is that once we have a skill, we rarely loose or unlearn it. We may, at times, choose not to use it, but that’s not the same as not having the skill.
Making a change or learning a new skill can bring up lots of emotions. Frustrations, anger, discouragement, guilt, and embarrassment are some of the less desired ones. But we can also feel excitement, competence, freedom, and relief, too. It doesn’t matter what is evoked for you as you move through the process. It only matters that you are gentle with yourself (and anyone else you see working through a similar process) and that you take stock in how far you’ve come. Keep in mind, if you’ve begun thinking about changes you’d like to make in the coming year, you’re already in the second stage!
Parenting isn’t always easy, it doesn’t always feel natural, and sometimes we question our judgement. When we’re trying to adopt a new skill or technique, it’s important to remember this process. Then we can get out of our own way, and successfully reach the goal we’ve set for ourselves.
For more thoughts on how to create change in your life, check out this article.
Maybe some problem solving steps would help with the changes you’d like to see at home.
Maybe it’s time to simply your life.
Is turning down the volume on yelling one of the changes you’d like to see?