The Kubler-Ross Change Curve is the most reliable tool to understand change and the stages associated with it. It is used mainly with grief and can be effectively used by people, business owners and political leaders across the world to help us adapt to change and move towards success.
“Change is an inevitable part and truth of life, and there is no running away from it.”
If change is well planned and formulated, it can produce positive results but even in spite of planning, change is hard to incorporate, accept and appreciate.
This model was introduced by and is named after Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in a book called ‘Death and Dying’ which came out in the year 1969. This book, as well as the model, was inspired by her association and work with patients who were terminally ill. It consists of 5 stages of emotions; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. If you take our current situation, this can also be applied. It’s a powerful model that can help one understand and deal with changes and personal transitions plus it sheds light on how one may react to change and how you can provide support during the process.
The 5 stages
Although the stages are fairly clear, where you are in the curve can depend on the person and it is quite common that the one person may deal with change in a completely different way to the next.
The Stage of shock or denial is usually the first stage in the Kubler-Ross Model and is mostly short-lived. This is a phase during which one puts on a temporary defense mechanism and takes time to process certain disturbing news or reality. One may not want to believe what is happening and that it is happening to him/her. It can bring about a dip in productivity and the ability to think and act. After the initial shock subsides, one may experience denial and may remain focused on the past. Some people tend to remain in the state of denial for a long time and may lose touch with reality.
When the realization finally hits, and one understands the gravity of the situation, he/she may become angry and may look for someone to blame. Anger can be manifested or expressed in many ways. While some take out the anger on themselves, others may direct it towards others around them. While some may be angry at life in general, others may blame the economy. One always tends to remain irritable, frustrated and short tempered during this stage.Bargaining: When the stage of anger passes away, one may start thinking about ways to postpone the inevitable and try to find out the best thing left in the situation. People may choose to negotiate in the situation and come to a point of compromise. Bargaining may help to come to a sustainable solution and might bring some relief to those who are moving close to what they wish to avoid altogether. The search for a different outcome or a less traumatic one may remain on during this stage.
Depression is a stage in which the person tends to feel sadness, fear, regret, guilt and other negative emotions. He/she may have completely given up by now and may now reach a dead-end from where the road only seems dark. One may display signs or indifference, reclusiveness, pushing others away and zero excitement towards anything in life. This may seem like the lowest point in life with no way ahead. Some common signs of depression include sadness, low energy, feeling demotivated, losing trust.
When people realize that fighting the change that is coming into their life is not going to go away, they resign to the situation and accept it completely. The resigned attitude may not be a happy space but is one in which the person may stop resisting change and move ahead with it.
While some people totally resign and go into a deep state of low energy, others may try to make the most of the time and explore new opportunities but rest assured, we all come to a point of peace eventually.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you recognise the stages of the curve in your own life?