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.