Fear Is a Sign to Prepare


This is the third article in my series related to Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change.

When we were little girls, my parents took my sister and me to the beach every summer. We loved it, except for the very first time.

We took our maiden trip to the beach when I was four, and I remember being very excited, until my dad scooped me up and started to push out into the waves with me on his hip. I panicked. Or maybe freaked out is a better description.

I let out a scream so loud, not even the sounds of the wind and the waves could swallow it up. I kicked and fought until my dad turned toward the shore and hiked me back up to my little towel, where I collapsed into a red-faced, heaving sob.

If you missed the two articles on change, here’s a brief recap: We discussed pre-contemplation, the stage in which ignorance is bliss. Then contemplation, the stage in which you are sitting on the fence, weighing the pros and cons of changing.

In those two stages, you are not yet ready to dive into change. After all, change can be scary, and you may not know how to get past the fear that comes with change. The next stage is not to take the plunge. It is preparation.

My husband likes to say, “Fear is a sign to prepare.” He swears he heard it from somebody else, but I like to give him the credit, because whenever I am afraid, he smiles and says, “Sounds like you need to prepare!”

When I turned 5, my parents put me on the swim team at our local pool. I was assigned to the baby pool with one of the older girls who took me through the basics. I learned how to blow bubbles and then to hold my breath. She taught me how to float. She even had me practice calling for help.

Then she held me while I pretended to swim. She moved me along while I paddled and kicked. By the time she took me to the big pool, a few weeks later, I was completely at ease.

The next time I went to the ocean I leapt into my father’s arms, almost knocking him over, and begged him to take me out into the waves.

By the following summer, my sister and I swam out into the ocean alone, and I remember doing a back flip into a wave that was coming in. I was FEARLESS.

Are you contemplating a change you’re afraid to make?

Perhaps it’s a transfer addiction. It is not uncommon for people who struggle with food issues to substitute food for another substance. If you think this may apply to you and you are considering making a change, you will need to prepare.

In this example, the preparation stage could include talking to a safe person about what you will need to do to help yourself be successful with overcoming your addiction. You may experiment with satisfying drinks you can have when others are drinking alcohol. For the longest time I always ordered lime and soda water.

You could talk to your closest friends to see who will abstain from drinking when the two of you socialize. You could see a therapist who specializes in both addiction and bariatric surgery. With that person, you can pinpoint exactly why you want to address your addiction, strategize about how you’ll handle different situations, determine what you must have in place if you’re going to quit, and how you will take care of yourself during the process.

You may find that with education, support, and practice, the change you want to make will be less daunting. In preparation for change, finding the people in your life who will love and support you is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. You are not alone.

Like I always say, contact me if you want some help finding the right resources and support. (I’ve successfully dealt with my own addiction for more than 38 years.)

During the preparation stage you are identifying and embracing initial steps that will help you overcome your obstacles.

What obstacles are standing in your way today? How can you prepare to overcome them?

Your Assignment

Identify the obstacles that are standing between you and the healthy WLS lifestyle you crave. For each obstacle, write down at least one thing you can do to prepare for change.

Reference: Prochaska and DiClemente’s (1983) Stages of Change Model

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From Katie Jay’s Small Bites newsletter. Subscribe and get your complimentary report: The 21 Most Common Mistakes People Make after Bariatric Surgery at www.BariSupport.com. © 2022, Katie Jay. All rights reserved.