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Self-Adjustment Theory

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.

Are you committed to personal growth and development for a drastic, positive change in your results? Or despite being confident, you don’t know how to go about doing it? Here is where you can find out where you stand!

Dr. James Proschaska is the first psychologist to win a Medal of Honor for Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society. Having conducted personal development programs to quit smoking, he came up with a theory and combined them with existing theories to overcome a disease or a bad habit to bring the desired change in yourself or other people.

This theory is divided into two parts: Stage of change and Process of change. These two must work in tandem, depending on the nature of the person’s behavior, especially in this period.

The four stages of change are -

1. Precontemplation: The determination is lacking for at least a period of 6 months. This is the toughest stage, since either most people do not have sufficient information or they concede failure by giving up. So, the most important aspect of this stage is to instill confidence in them, as lack of knowledge is the biggest hindrance. It is often said that to be healthy, we need to believe in ourselves that we will be healthy.

This stage has two sub-aspects -

    (a) Educate people with the right facts. In case the person already knows them, provide them with the best possible research findings.

    (b) Make people believe in themselves. This should be a systematic process, so that the goal looks much simpler to them and each small success matters to them.

2. Contemplation: The person has the intention to change within the next 6 months, knowing the advantages of doing so. Yet the disadvantages regarding the same still loom large in their minds. This confusion calls for the method of raising awareness and responsibility to be used.

It is important to tell them about the consequences of not undertaking personal self-development wholeheartedly to themselves and their near and dear ones such as family, friends, or spouse.

3. Preparation: By now, the individual is determined enough to begin the process of change, with a plan of action, which they intend to follow within one month. In this step, the only method to be used is to provide alternatives, as that will aid them in not compromising on their present lifestyle immediately. For example, to quit smoking, there are three alternatives: cold turkey, using nicotine gum, or decreasing one cigarette a day.

4. Action: The person has acted within the past 6 months. However, modifications are still needed to bring about a complete transformation. This method involves two main supporters: -

Supporter 1 (Discipline or Inspiration): What is self-confidence? It is a sense of trust that a person has in their abilities, qualities, and decisions. This is the first     ingredient of self-discipline. It is difficult, because it relates to the ability to monitor yourself, to recall whether you accidentally switch back to the bad habit, and having the presence of mind to know what you are doing.

However, even group discipline is a huge motivating factor in this case. For example, a company has a rule that an employee cannot use an elevator, but must take the stairs instead so that it’s good exercise for them. If you achieve a fine combination of both, you are as masterful as a Buddhist monk.

Supporter 2 (Friends): If you have good friends, you have a good chance to successfully change, rather than doing it by yourself. If you don’t have any, pets are also a decent option.

The trick in executing this plan is not to implement the inappropriate method to the step of change.

For example, if we are in Step 1 and the method used is that of raising awareness of family or self-concern, which is supposed to be used for Step 2, it will not be successful. This is because Step 1, the precontemplation step works on self-belief, which is a basic guide to self-improvement and self-help.

After Step 4, it gets much easier because it has been processed further into the Self-efficacy and Temptation theory. Self-efficacy refers to being secure and determined to fight with any temptation, even in an unstable situation. This means that the willpower is greater than the mind playing games to switch back to old habits by avoiding any sort of distractions.

For instance, one of the patients lost 95kgs, reaching 65kgs from 160kgs. She said when she walked past the cafeteria; she would use the walkway that was in the opposite way to the cafeteria, though it would take her longer to reach.