The 3 A’s

Appropriate action requires appropriate preparation.


Image -  canstockphoto8815498Are you unsettled about something from your past that keeps rearing its head in everyday life?  Is this something you’ve tried to remedy because you know that its one of the main things that holds you back?  If you don’t know how to move forward or can hardly speak the words of what happened or even write them, consider a different approach to the situation.

I learned these three steps in a program that helps to refocus our attention to ourselves instead of putting the blame on someone else. The answers to our problems are inside of us. We must find them, not by demanding solutions from others but by searching within ourselves for what we need to do.

Awareness is the first step. Some things that bother us are hidden deep in the psyche. Despite their depth, they still affect our perceptions of what has happened or is happening.  Before awareness comes, you feel like you’re in a pitch black room. You have to feel around to find your way and some of what you touch is strange and even scary. Awareness is like a light bulb that is suddenly switched on. Now that you can see, those strange and scary things are revealed to be ordinary objects.  You see things for what they are, not what you imagine them to be.  You see a behavior or a coping mechanism that you developed or were taught. You remember words that were spoken, but now you see another meaning to them. Your new perspective on what once was hidden reveals more meaning.  You are aware of how what was troubling you is affecting you today. It’s a start.

Acceptance is the next step. To accept what happened doesn’t mean you agree with it, it means you make peace with it. Sometimes making peace means to forgive the ones who hurt you or forgive yourself for your part in it. Sometimes it means we release the need for justice. Acceptance takes time and concentrated contemplation. Acceptance is personal and determined by the awareness. When we resist what we are aware of, it pushes back on us emotionally. Acceptance gives the pain nothing to push against and it loses its power.

Action is the third step. We are aware of what happened, we accept it without resisting, then we are ready to do something about it. If you try to take action before you work through acceptance, you won’t know what to do or it will feel confusing. An action without acceptance doesn’t usually work out well for anyone. However, an action preceded by awareness and acceptance will usually bring appropriate results. You will feel a confidence, a knowing, that this is what needs to be done to resolve the issue.

Confusion, resistance, blocks, and self-doubt are all signs that one of these elements is missing. If they arise, determine where you are in the process: awareness, acceptance, action. Then, fill in the other parts to bring balance and clarity.

Of the three, I find acceptance to be the most difficult. Some things take a long time to accept, especially if they were abusive or traumatizing. Sometimes we need help to do it. The good news is that when acceptance does happen, peace flows like a river over your soul. And then you can move on. It’s worth every effort to do these three steps for every thing that troubles us.


Action Step

Write three paragraphs about what is troubling you.  Start the first paragraph with “I am aware of (write everything you know now about the situation).”  Start the second paragraph with “I accept (write out what you can accept about what you just wrote).”  Start the third paragraph with “I will (list the actions you can take based on what you have accepted).”

You may not be able to accept everything you wrote in the first paragraph. Give yourself time to work through the things you are having difficulty accepting. Do not write the third paragraph until you have accepted everything you wrote in the first paragraph. You might have to keep this paper around for a long time, but someday, you will be able to complete that third paragraph.


My actions are based on awareness and acceptance.


Principles versus Rules

Principles guide decision making.


As a young child I quickly learned that life has rules and if you break those rules, you will be punished. The pain a belt inflicts is a powerful motivator, especially for a sensitive child like me. I was frantic to avoid its sting, both physically and emotionally.

Image - Teresa age 5

As a teenager, I discovered that rules can be broken, if you’re smart about it. I learned how to break rules without getting caught – well, most of the time.

I developed a weight issue that I desperately despised.  Without knowing how to lose weight in a healthy way, I made lots of rules about what I allowed myself to eat and when. I broke those rules more times than I can count. Each time I broke a rule I was rebelling. Who was I fighting against? Me.

Many years later, I realized I was trying to be my own parent, to carry forward the restriction ethic I had known all my life. This opened a door to healing. And, instead of making rules, I decided to live by principles.

Rules versus Principles

Rules say, “do this and don’t do that.” Rules limit. Rules set the minimum of good behavior. And rules are meant to be broken.

Principles are statements of truth. An example of a principle is “Organic food is better than non-organic food.” The principle does not say, “Don’t buy non-organic food.” It’s just stating a truth.

When faced with a choice, a rule may restrict you while a principle will guide you.

When Abraham Lincoln was asked about principles, he said, “Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.” Because his decisions were guided by principles, he was able to set thousands of people free and hold our war-torn country together. Learn from his example. If you have an internal civil war going on, principles can be used to set you free and hold your life together, too.

Memorizing the principles in this book can help you avoid inner rebellions. Embracing these principles will make it easier to shape wise choices.


Action Step:  Avoid restricting yourself with self-imposed rules. You are unlikely to stick to them anyway. Instead choose to simply set yourself free from doing anything that brings you harm. Apply principles of truth to your daily life. The principle for each chapter in this book will be listed under the title of the chapter.

Write the following affirmation on a sticky note and post it where you will see it every day.

Affirmation:  Truth is the key that sets me free. 

[Author’s Note: This is one of the first chapters in the book. I include it here because I will start each blog post with a Principle.  Also notice that each blog post ends with an Action Step and an Affirmation. These three elements enhance your potential for success in getting to where you want to be.  Live by the Principles. Do the Action Steps. And say the Affirmations until they become a part of your thought patterns. It works!]