The Stages of Change

I’ve always done my research off the hip and based on gut instinct about what happens and why. But, I’ve taken into account the variations individual characters use to react. An introvert and an extrovert react to the same stimuli differently, both during and after the event has occurred. However, this Amelia Baker has me wondering what the clinical expectations are for an average person who undergoes a real shock.

It ought to be the same process that would happen for a simple mishap, correct? Only the feelings and thoughts are more profound and cause more worry? So, since she loves baking so much, let’s give her a classic mini-baking fail: the muffin tops collapse in the oven. The reaction? Heartache and butt-kicking. Wonder what went wrong. Thinking of possible reasons, and sifting through them until she finds the most likely cause. She opened the oven too soon, and the heat escaped the muffins and the tops collapsed. That was dumb. They should have been done. Maybe the oven wasn’t quite hot enough. Maybe her timer was a little too fast. Maybe she should consider adding more leavening to the batter next time. Meanwhile, the muffins are edible, but not sell-able, because who would want to buy an imperfect muffin? She would try again, but make changes and see what the result is. And hope she doesn’t waste too many ingredients. Maybe she can give the misshapen muffins to someone who doesn’t care, like the neighbor dog, or the raggedy children…

So, that’s my pre-research thoughts. Let’s google around a few times and see how or if this is accurate.


Change has several barriers to it, and first and foremost is the desire to change. In my example, the desire was inherent, but what if she didn’t want to change how she made muffins, and someone complains? Next in line is barriers to change. These can be anything from attitude (desire) to physical handicaps (what if her oven simply won’t get hot enough?). Now, this one is more for behavioral changes than simple problems, but can still apply if she’s been making lots of flat-topped muffins: Relapse.

The very first step in changing (since I plan on making Amelia Baker more open-minded through the course of the story) is getting her to realize that her way isn’t cutting it anymore. In the muffin example, she sees her problem quickly and sets about to remedy it. But, if she were a more ignorant baker, she might not have any scruples about subpar products until someone–or several someones–make enough of a fuss that she realizes her error. Or maybe she sees that a more successful baker has perfect muffin tops. Maybe at first she is in denial, or just doesn’t realize the problem.

Now, since this is Amelia Baker and she is just-so about her baking, she is far from in denial and sails right on to the next step: Contemplation.

During contemplation, the costs of change are laid out. The benefits of change are also thrown into the equation. She will have to invest time and more ingredients to fix a minor problem. It might take several attempts, and for all she knows she might not be able to make the fix herself and might need to hire someone to work on her oven. Is that worth a problem that is only a little unsightly?

To be fair, Miss Baker hardly gives this any notice because any cost is worth baking perfection. But, if it is something more like buying a new dress? That would cause much contemplation for her. Is her current one in tatters? Will a new one cause men to notice her? Cause them to make advances, and if so, can she resist? But she must resist, if she is to keep her freedom, because marriage is a shackle and she’ll have none of it. No, she won’t buy a dress. Except, she really kind of needs one…She decides, in this case, she will buy the cheapest, most unflattering thing she can find. Solution decided.


This is an example of one small change that will–or could–lead to much larger changes in the future. Once she dons her new dress, she goes about and asks for opinions, or simply she notices people’s behavior towards her. This is clinically thought of as research. The baking example is perfect for research. She tries a few things, makes notes of what does and does not work better, and does what works well.

This segues into action. Perhaps she decides she will always make this tweak that allows her muffins have the appealing curve at the top. Perhaps she decides that her new dress looks sort of funny with the cap that holds her hair in, and decides that since no one has harassed her about her new dress, she can let her hair out of the cap. Maybe make it into a bun so it isn’t that  noticeable, but still looks better (another small change). Her behavior (looking better than a street bum) prompts positive reinforcement from her friends and encourages the continuation of current behavior, and the idea that she can experiment with new boots, too.

The problem is maintaining this new behavior. What if the cost of heating the oven so high makes her second-think the perfect muffins? (It wouldn’t, but it’s worth stating)  But greater than that, what if she has an encounter with a flirt who humiliates her and makes her want to go back to the ratty dress? Will she? Is it her confidence or her friend’s intervention that brings her out of her old habits?

Or does the story end here, with a relapse of behavior? Relapses bring feelings of frustration, disappointment, and failure. Perhaps even embarrassment at having failed–or rather, at having tried at all. What would make her think that she could get away with looking pretty? Looking pretty had made her dumb. She’d always known it would. Intelligent girls had no need to look pretty. Therefore, if she felt the need to be pretty, she must not be intelligent. Pretty girls got husbands and lived like a cow milling from pasture to pasture, being told what to do and how to do it. She would not be pretty. She would be that old nag of an ass that worked hard, listened to no one, and got the job done. She wouldn’t be milked for her assets. …except that the ass does do what the master wants, in the end…

And so, the solution to a relapse is to start the whole thing over again, but this time, she knows what to do. And if she really wants to do it.

See, folks? Research can be fun! Especially when you have an outlandish problem, like muffin tops and new dresses.

Anywho. Gotta get to work. Software licenses will have expired this morning, and I gotta get the POSs (that’s “point of sale”, not “piece of sh!t”, though they can be that, too) working so we can sell popcorn and tickets today. And I have a date with server tech support. The fun of being in multiple places at once.

Enjoy your day,

Your Dearest  Nicolette




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