Personal change is both an internal and external experience. It stems from a change in mindset and branches out from there. In truth, we are constantly moving toward some things, and away from others. But in order for noticeable transformation to occur, we must pass through a series of tipping points in succession.
This does not mean that a personal change can’t take place quickly, because it can. What it does mean is that all meaningful change, regardless of the time required, will follow a certain sequence.
On the path of personal transformation
We see an excellent large scale example of this sequential process in a typical life span. We all begin life as infants and progress through childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and finally old age. Some pass through these stages at different rates, but the sequence is always the same.
Note also that these stages of life are not limited to physical change alone. There is a complete metamorphosis on all levels. Mental and emotional change is present in conjunction with the physical. A very similar order is in involved in the process of personal growth and development.
The 7 stages of personal change
1) Awareness. The initial motivation for change starts with a sense that something is no longer working as well as it once did. This awareness can be extremely subtle at first. Maybe you feel uncomfortable with a long held belief, or with your current way of dealing with certain situations. Perhaps you realize that you no longer feel as resourceful or effective in certain areas of your life.
These feelings are the beginning of your personal recognition that something needs to be adjusted and precede any change in mindset. Even before you can put your finger on the source of this internal discomfort, you feel it on some level. Something is just not right and your conscious mind begins to investigate.
2) Discovery. This is the stage where your conscious mind has located the source of discomfort and is attempting to alert you of its presence. At this point you may run into resistance from your own ego, and the whole process of growth could be cut short.
The ego seeks refuge in denial, pretending that your discomfort is from an external source rather than an internal one. For personal change to progress past this stage requires that we accept that the source of our uneasiness is from within ourselves. The ability to override the denial tendency and adopt a new mindset is a prerequisite for moving to the next stage.
3) Ownership. In this stage we take responsibility for our own discomfort. That means that we fully accept that we are the source, rather than some external force. At this point we consciously acknowledge that it is our feelings, habits, perception, emotions, limiting beliefs, or faulty reasoning that needs to be adjusted.
This is a very powerful and key step on the path of personal transformation. It is the realization that we are actually in control, and therefore have the ability to facilitate a change. Accepting complete ownership of the situation opens the door to a new mindset of personal empowerment.
4) Exposure. This is the stage where we expand our search to identify the emotion or belief that is no longer serving us. This can be difficult for several reasons. For one, logic is not usually a very effective tool in the emotional arena. For another, we tend to view our beliefs as facts of life, and will always look for ways to justify them.
Rather than a direct confrontation, it is much easier to look at our behavior patterns to see how different beliefs have affected our lives. Once we recognize that we have been held back by, or suffered because of, certain beliefs, we will have both logic and emotion supporting our desire for change.
5) Intention. This is the threshold of personal change. You have identified an obsolete belief or behavior pattern, and you are now motivated to replace it with something more empowering. You are ready to move away from your former stage of development and embrace the next level. It’s time to choose a direction.
By the time you reach this tipping point, it is fairly easy to see where you want to be. The same comparison process that exposed the original source of discomfort has probably already revealed your next destination. All that’s left is to embrace a mindset that affirms your resolve to go there, and to formulate a plan of action.
6) Action. In the world of personal transformation, this is the only way to achieve results. If you don’t act, nothing will change. In fact, your discomfort with the current reality will increase because you have a much greater awareness of it. Before, it was just a subtle sense that something is no longer working. Now, it has a face.
Taking action is the only way to reestablish internal harmony. Any other course will require that you relinquish control and accept the mindset of a victim. When people feel helpless and depressed with their life, failure to take action and move toward a solution is often the cause.
7) Integration. This is the final stage where you have fully adopted the new belief or behavior. What started as a subtle awareness that something needed to be adjusted, has resulted in new milestone on the journey of personal change.
You have now reestablished your internal harmony on the next level. You have also successfully let go of an established, but obsolete, belief. It has been replaced with something much more empowering.
Choose personal growth
The more you experience this process the more natural it becomes. For those who embrace change, personal growth is a way of life. Never fool yourself into thinking that resisting change is the easier course; it’s not, because it robs you of the happiness and sense of purpose that you deserve. When you embrace change, you embrace life!
How do you feel about personal change?
Do you ever resist making changes to improve your life?
The lines are open!