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Your stages of change

There are seven stages to life change, and seven sets of feelings you may experience. You may have these feelings in any order and at various times.

Losing focus


For more information, read "Life Changes: Growing Through Personal Transitions" (Sabina A. Spencer and John D. Adams)

  • numbness and feeling of unreality
  • an inability to think clearly or keep things in focus

Minimizing the impact

  • denial
  • note the positive side of denial: it is an opportunity to protect yourself from the full consequences of the change

Hitting the pit


When you're feeling stressed, ask yourself:

  • Will this matter a year from now?
  • Is this worth getting upset over?
  • Can I make this situation more positive (play music CDs or tapes during a traffic jam, or talk with your partner or friend while waiting in line)?
  • What is my stress trying to teach me?

  • reality beginning to hit home
  • a growing sense of depression and powerlessness
  • a feeling of little or no control over your situation and over how you feel
  • sudden bursts of anger
  • feelings of being stressed out
  • sadness, grief

Letting go of the past

  • beginning to come to terms with your loss
  • feeling ready to start working on your future
  • forgiving self and others
  • feeling a new sense of optimism

Testing the limits

  • energetic
  • enthusiastic
  • wanting to establish your "new self" by trying out new behaviors and developing new skills
  • developing self-confidence that comes from being in charge of your life and feeling good about your new direction

Searching for meaning

  • looking back over your transition and trying to figure out the meaning of this change in your life
  • reflecting on what you've been through and trying to understand what this has meant
  • sharing the wisdom you've gained through this experience
  • talking with a trusted friend, mentor, pastor or spiritual guide


  • evaluating what this has meant to you
  • fitting your discoveries and experiences into your everyday life



Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts