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A Life Of Love And Balance Blog

Ready, Set, Go! No?

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Deborah Chelette Wilson life coach family counselor Sxchg 1015347 185x300Last month I introduced you to Monica, a single mom who was tired of feeling bad about yelling at her son. She had done a great deal of work

getting information and contemplating making changes, but her efforts had failed miserably. Monica learned that she had jumped into taking action before she was really ready to do so.

 

Once Monica became conscious of the causes and consequences of the struggles she was having with her son, and let go of her guilt, she was ready to move into the Preparation Stage, a thoughtful time before taking action.

In our face-paced “I want it now” society, patience is not a buzzword. Yes, we do have many “instant” things at our disposal including instant messaging and finding answers on the internet. However, personal development and making behavior changes is not instant. Human beings are not technological devices.

There are some truths that stand the test of time. One is the Girl Scout’s Motto, “Be Prepared.” The Preparation Stage, like the Girl Scout Motto, is the cornerstone for taking effective action(s). It is the difference between being reactive and being responsive in taking the necessary steps to success.

The Preparation Stage is the time to gain the skills you need to manage the problems in your life more effectively. Monica was so desperate for her son’s behavior to stop, and so stressed by it that she was not in a calm and focused place. She was in the let’s throw something on the problem and see what will stick. She was committed to solving the problem, but her focus was on her son rather than on herself, and what she could do differently to help her son.

Her main problem: information overload and acting too soon.

Gaining information is not the same as mastering a skill.

To master a skill takes clarity of the outcome you want. It also takes learning the skills to give you that outcome, and then implementing them. An important, and often missing, step is looking at how will this skill make things different? Can I see myself doing this? If this really works how might my life be different?

Having a hopeful vision is a great motivator. The process of revaluating yourself and the problem is an ongoing one because it gives you valuable feedback. Feedback is not the same thing as harshly judging and condemning yourself.

Feedback is looking at your results in a way that helps you see what is working and what isn’t. You can’t change what you don’t know. You can’t build your self-confidence if you don’t acknowledge yourself for what is working. Feedback gives you a tool to move forward instead of looking backward.

Am I doing what matters?” became Monica’s new motto.

It was difficult at first to let go of resentments about how life had not turned out as the happily ever after she wanted. That was not her son’s fault. In her own grief she had lost sight of what he was going through. As we worked together she came to realize his behavior was not as much a reflection of her, as it was the disruptions of his life and his grief and loss.

She began shifting from defensive mode to feeling more compassion for him. She also realized she needed to stop taking responsibility for his dad’s behavior and focus on healing herself. She moved from reactivity to response-ability.

How committed are you?

Monica needed to get clear about her commitment to change. She needed to be willing to take new actions, but did she believe in herself enough to use her willpower to overcome the obstacles and resistance that would come up?

Preparation is the beginning of the process of commitment, which continues into the action and maintenance stages.

Obstacles and resistance to commitment

  1. putting off taking action for too long
  2. relying only on will power alone which eventually runs out
  3. taking action before you are really ready
  4. not have enough information or too much information, which leads to procrastination, analyzing the information, or getting stuck and confused
  5. not making a choice as to what to take action on
  6. wanting guarantees that something will work before taking action
  7. not accepting the anxiety that comes with change and fear it might not work
  8. avoidance and delay because of anxiety
  9. making excuses because of anxiety
  10. not getting support

Preparation can bring up anxiety and questions about what happens if this doesn’t work. Any time we decide to change, behavior anxiety will not be far behind. It is part of the package of change. It is important to know this, so when anxiety shows up, you will know what to do, so it doesn’t stop you.

How to deal with Preparation Stage anxiety:

1. Baby steps: pushing or feet dragging is counter-productive. In our parenting work, Monica learned a new understanding of what was driving her and her son’s behaviors.  Without that foundation regressing to old behavior patterns is certain.

2. Set a reasonable time frame: We set a date when she would begin to implement the new skills she was developing through the role playing we did.  It helped give her practice with the unfamiliar way of parenting and increased her self-confidence in knowing what to do before she was in the heat of the argument with her son.  Through this process she also learned that as her coach I was there to support, encourage and hold her accountable for her goals.

3. Letting "safe" others know her commitment to change:  a bit more difficult for her.  She was a private person and embarrassed to let co-workers, family or friends who were mothers to know about her struggles.  Together we came up with a simple way she could explain what she was doing.  "You may not know this but life has been very difficult for me for a long time.  The struggles I have been having with my son have gotten so awful I had to get some help.  I have been working with a Parenting Coach.  She has been helping me understand things about myself and my child that have been very helpful.  In about three weeks I am going to be implementing new parenting practices.  I’d appreciate your support and understanding while I’m going through this change."  She was surprised to find many mothers sharing with her their stresses and struggles with their children and trying to juggle everything.  They asked her about what she was learning.  This experience increased her confidence and she ended up with a small support group of women.

4. Be prepared for some disruption - Monica had her ups and downs for many weeks as she faced behavior patterns, beliefs, and experiences in her life that she had put on the back burner.  She was on a roller coaster of emotions, however, her commitment was strong, and through many coaching sessions and emails she found the support she needed to keep her on track.  She was an incredibly brave and strong woman.

5. Creating a plan - Monica’s plan needed to fit her lifestyle, beliefs, energy, and the multiple demands women face in today’s world.  She actually felt relief that the plan needed to fit her, and that I didn’t have some cookie-cutter one she had to comply with.  Her plan was based on the clarity she gained from the new parenting paradigm, her experiences as a mother, and a new understanding of the impact that stress had on both her and her son.  Her participation in the coaching program helped her learned how to shift from depleting emotions to renewing ones, allowing her to begin to feel better about herself as a woman and a mom, and she began to feel joy and have fun with her son.

6.    Flexible plan making -   feedback gave her input on what needed to be tweaked.  She told me, "That is a relief.  I’ve been struggling with what if something doesn’t work, do I have to start all over from scratch."  The answer is "No, you start where you are and make adjustments along the way."

Creating a plan for action can be long or short. It must, however, be specific. It needs to include coping strategies for expected barriers to making changes. A review of previous attempts to change, and what got in the way, helps remind you of your barriers to change.

Keep in mind that stressors in your environment, like too many activities, not getting enough sleep, not eating healthy, problems or big projects coming up at work or with your children at school, will drain energy levels.

Simply put, any time certain stressors are happening, you have a good chance of regressing to old patterns of behavior. Think of it this way, any time you or your children are too hungry, too angry, too lonely, too tired or too triggered then emotions and behavior go in the ditch. That is the time to HALTT. Take a pausing heart-focused breathe. Any one of these issues can escalate your stress or your children.

Monica knew she was ready to take action when she realized that she:

  1. had a new self-confidence in her ability to change her problems
  2. was ready to let go of excuse making and just do what she needed to do to move forward.
  3. was ready to use her willpower to stop herself from yelling at her son.
  4. was also aware that she could choose to change or not change, and knew the consequences of not changing.
  5. was confident and ready to take action with implementing the new parenting techniques
  6. she kept a poster of HALTT Mode on her kitchen wall as a reminder

In the book Changing for Good the Pros and Cons of Changing Exercise will help you assess if you are really ready to move on to the Action Stage or if you have more preliminary work to do. I can’t stress enough that if you are not ready to move into the Action Stage then your efforts will not produce the outcome you are wanting. People want to bypass stages, and unknowingly they are setting themselves up for failure. Preparation is a stage that deserves your attention and focus.

Monica gave this stage the time and attention it needed. The result was her confidence had grown, she felt more in control of where she was going, and felt well prepared and ready for success

Remember I offer a free 15-minute telephone consultation so you can see if Life Coaching is for you.

Next Month: Taking Action.

*Information comes from the book Changing for Good:  A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program For Overcoming Bad Habits And Moving Your Life Positvely Forward by James O. Prochaska, PH.D, John C. Norcross, PH.D, and Carlo C. Diclemente, PH.D published in 1994.  It can be purchased at:  www.amazon.com

Soulfull Woman Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a Licensed Professional Counselor, speaker and life coach who has helped many women find that elusive “something missing” in their lives. We are often pulled in so many directions, that it’s difficult to know how to put ourselves on our own To Do list. Contact Deborah to find out about her free 15-minute coaching session to help you find a more stress-free and soulfull You

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BOOK RESOURCES

Resources

Dr. Daniel Seigel :http://www.drdansiegel.com/

Heather Forbes:www.beyondconsequencesinstitute.com

Trauma and Loss Institutehttps://www.starr.org/training/tlc/com

Dr. Peter Levine Institutehttps://traumahealing.org/

ACE’s Study:http://www.acestudy.org/the-ace-score.html

Dr. Bruce Perry The Child Trauma Academy :http://childtrauma.org/

For more information contact Deborah Chelette-Wilson at deborahchelettewilson@gmail.com

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