5 Steps to Changing
We finally arrive at the battle and how to fight. Here’s where all the theoretical stuff we’ve covered thus far is applied in a practical method or approach. For practitioners, this is not a casual intellectual pastime but rather, a way of living. The battle we are waging is constant and this is because our enemies never sleep until the moment we are dead. In this battle we are constantly seeing and admitting our faults (sins) in thoughts and word and action and waring with these bad habits to establish good and holy habits.
In ancient Biblical terms this process is called repentance. In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nacham (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as 'repentance' is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), which in simple terms translates as: “to think differently” or "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness".
There are five stages in the process of change and repentance: complacency, contemplation, determination, battle, watchfulness:
Stage 1: Complacency
We all begin in this first stage. We are complacent and used to our bad habits. We do not intend on taking any action in the foreseeable future. We are unaware that our behavior is problematic or produces negative consequences. In this stage we may underestimate the importance or need of changing. There may even be fears that hold us back from changing our bad habits as these passions have become an important component of how we see ourselves and how we interact with others.
Stage 2: Contemplation
In this stage, we identifying our sins and bad habits, usually starting off with the one that is causing us the most damage, discontent or restlessness. Upon self-reflection, the intention to start the healthy behavior begins.
Stage 3: Determination
In this stage the warfare begins. We are ready to take action as we have finally found our inner resolve. People start to take small steps toward the behavior change, and they believe changing their behavior can lead to a healthier life.
Stage 4: Battle (change)
In this stage we take our determination and resolve and we begin to change our behavior by battling with our thoughts, words and actions. When temptations arise we cut them off immediately at their provocation (see the first step in forming a passion^^^link^^^). This stage requires intention to keep moving forward with change. This stage often requires us to change daily habits as well as social habits. While conducting warfare we are constantly trying to resort to prayer. During battle we will always keep in mind that we may slip up and fall and when we do we remember “what to do when wounded in battle”.
Stage 5”: Watchfulness
In this stage we have sustained behavior change for a while and intend to maintain the behavior change going forward. Once we have made progress, in this stage the underlying resolve becomes stronger and we work to prevent relapse to earlier stages. Because we know the enemy is elusive and always present we maintain watchfulness at all times in mind, heart and will. Never do we consider ourselves completely free from the sin or passion and assume that relapse is always a moment away. Watchfulness is always accompanied by constant prayer and reliance on God.
Tactics for Battle (nav link 2)
Here we will go deeper into the one stage that requires the most of us: The Battle. When we finally have determination and resolve we turn to God. In this we humbly see and acknowledge our passions and sins and turn to God for strength and courage. In the battle we will attempt to uproot our sins and in their place, plant the virtues.
When Thoughts Attack