Resilience Through Change - Part 1

Change is everywhere. As hard as we may try, we can't avoid it. The reality is that change is a part of life. So rather than fighting it or avoiding it, what can we do?

Resilience Through Change - Part 1

Change is everywhere. We can't avoid it. We do try and give it a red hot go! But the reality is that change is a part of life. So rather than fighting it or avoiding it, what can we do?

The first step is to understand it.

Introducing the Change Spiral

Change can be understood as a process with a series of stages that we go through. However, the important thing to keep in mind is that it is not linear, meaning that we don't always progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2 then to Stage 3 and never return to Stage 1. The reality is a lot messier.

The change process is in reality, cyclical. This means that we can go from Stage 1 to Stage 2 then back to Stage 1 and then Stage 3 and so on, until we achieve the changes we want to make.

Prochaska [2] developed a model of 6 stages that can help us understand this process.

Transtheoretical Model of Change

Transtheoretical model of change

Stage 1 - Pre-contemplation

No intention of changing behaviour

When you are in this stage you might begin to perceive your current self and your ideal self. There is a lot of reflection and developing perceptions of yourself. At this stage you might think “they don't understand me” or “I’ve been trying but nothing seems to work.”

Stage 2 - Contemplation

Aware a problem exists. No commitment to action

At this stage, you start to see discrepancies between your current self and your ideal self. You start to think about what enables you and what acts as barriers. Reframing how you think are also a priority at this point. You may think “perhaps I could learn from this” or “I don't know where to start”.

Stage 3 - Preparation

Intent upon taking action

This stage involves generating a wide range of options and creating an action plan. You may also start to accept that anxieties and fears are a normal part of the change process. You may think “how am I going to do this?” or “I am afraid of trying new things”.

Stage 4 - Action

Active modifications of behaviour

At this point you start to take action. You experiment with, and evaluate new behaviours and responses so that you can start to build on past successes and strengths. It is important to put in place reminders to maintain new behaviours and reflect on your progress to date. At this stage you may think “I don't know if I could do it differently” or “I will go away and practice that”.

Stage 5 - Maintenance

Sustained change - new behaviour replaces old

Practice, practice, practice. This stage is about practicing new skills so that they become the new normal. Using support systems such as mentors, friends and family are important as well as performance targets and indicators. You may think “I will ask my supervisor to keep me on track” or “I am keen to learn advanced skills”.

Stage 6 - Relapse

Fall back into old patterns of behaviour

It is important to remember that relapse is a normal part of change and is in fact part of mainstreaming new behaviours. As we build on past strengths and adopt different strategies to achieve success, we are learning how to maintain our new behaviours for the longer term. We may think “I am a failure” or “I don't know how else to do this”.

Once again, we need to remember that going through these stages is a cyclical process, not linear.

Identifying where we sit in the Change Spiral

Now that you've read to here, where do you think you sit in the change process? What sorts of things are you saying to yourself? What is keeping you from progressing to the next stage? What would it take for you to move on?

There are no simple, straightforward answers to these questions and in fact the answers can change over time. However, it is important that we keep asking ourselves these questions and build our awareness of how we deal with change.

How we deal with change is related to our resilience levels, where resilience can be defined as the capacity to withstand stresses and demands without developing stress-related problems [1].

Change creates unrest. We expend a lot of energy to regain equilibrium. The less energy we use to adjust to each change, the more change we can absorb and the more resilient we can be to the changes that do occur.

This means that reducing unrest, and thereby decreasing the energy needed to adapt, in addition to increasing the productive flow of energy, can raise resilience.

Building resilience

In Part 2 of this series we will explore how to build our personal resilience.

How can Myndful Psychology help you?

Our psychologists can help you identify factors that may be blocking you or causing you to avoid change and help you to move forward.

Get Started

Talk to our friendly client services team about the care that is right for you


1Carr, A. (2011). Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths. London: Routledge.

2Prochaska, J. O. & DiClemente, C. C. (1982). Transtheoretical therapy: toward a more integrative model of change. Psychotherapy. (19), 276-88.


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