Friday, November 06, 2009

Fear, Hope, and Mobilization

Want to see a change happen in your life, or someone else's? Maybe you want to help move a group of people towards a desired end.

A man spoke at my church last week and shared a chart compiled for a publication of the American Psychological Association. It's from a book by F. J. Hanna called Therapy with Difficult Clients: Using the Precursors Model to Awaken Change.

(Don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I'd fall into the "difficult clients" category at times!)

Here are the "precursors of change." I've paraphrased and simplified a bit.

1. A desire for change and sense of urgency about it. Things cannot stay as they are.
2. A readiness to experience the difficulty and anxiety that may come with the change process.
3. An awareness that there is a problem and accurate understanding of what it is.
4. A willingness to confront the problem rather than continue avoiding it.
5. A committment to expend effort towards the change.
6. A belief that the change is possible and can be accomplished.
7. A network of relationships to support the change.

If someone has an abundance of these things, change will occur easily and almost any approach will work. If these precursors are only present in trace amounts, change is unlikely. A therapist - or anyone else trying to facilitate the change process - should focus efforts on increasing at least the weakest of these elements. Then, when the precursors are present they will help facilitate the desired change.

The one that captured my attention most was #6. The presenter asked: "When we see something we desire to have changed, what is it that turns the situation from a problem to an opportunity?"

My friend J. responded immediately. "Hope!"

That's right. To hope is to cherish a desire and live in expectation of its fulfillment. Its opposite is fear: dreading a possibility and living in expectation that this negative possibility is, in fact, inevitable.

Fear isolates us, locks us into our situation, and keeps us unable to change. Hope, though - it sets free someone who is a prisoner to their situation. It makes all kinds of things possible.

Fear immobilizes. Hope mobilizes.

Do we believe the worst is inevitable? Or do we believe a different future is possible? And maybe even that we can help change the future? Do we believe that tomorrow can be different - be better than today?

Note: When I walked into Sunday school that morning I had no idea who are guest was, but I picked up his first name and a bit of what he did for a living. Handy that in our world today that's enough info to find someone.

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