Contemplation

Posted on September 14, 2011

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In The Seven Psychological Stages of Change, Contemplation is the second stage.

By now, you’ve successfully navigated the first stage of Pre-Contemplation which means that you’ve identified the major subconscious messages that have been holding you back from changing. Those tricky, limiting subconscious thoughts have been brought to the forefront of your conscious mind and now, well, now you need to do something with them.

You’ve probably already realized that holding onto these limiting and negative thoughts and beliefs aren’t going to get you anywhere fast. You want to get rid of them, you want to dissolve them. Thing is, you’re not quite sure how.

I have a ton of coaching tools for the stage of Contemplation and they all basically do the same thing-They get you to challenge what you believe is true. So it doesn’t really matter what tool you use to do this, as long as you get into the habit of challenging those negative thoughts and beliefs when they arise.

Here is a tool I created based on the clinical work of Albert Ellis, one of the pioneering cognitive-behavioral  psychologists. It’s called The Irrational Belief Modification Tool and I’ve put it in a step-by-step format to make it easy to use. I’ve also provided you with some great examples of how to work the tool so that you can see how it works when you’re tackling a negative thought.

Keep in mind that ‘dissolving’ a negative thought or belief with this tool (or with another cognitive-behavioral therapy tool) does not necessarily mean that the thought is gone forever. Because limiting thoughts and beliefs are deeply hardwired into our brains, it often takes several times (sometimes hundreds of times) for a new thought to be reformed in its place.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy tools help you form new neural pathways in your brain so that you begin to think differently. Sometimes this happens immediately and sometimes this takes a lot of dedication and practice. It really just depends on how quickly your individual brain is able to rewire itself. 

So as you go through this particular stage, be patient with yourself. This is a major modification of your physical brain and it may take some time. Stay focused on identifying those negative thoughts and beliefs when they arise and religiously apply this tool to as many as you can, but especially to the really big ones.  If you stick with it, I guarantee you that before long, you’ll be thinking in a whole new way. 

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