Most clients reach out because they want to “fix,” change, or “improve” some aspect of themselves or their life. It’s a common starting point to change an internal or external pattern in their world. When people devote money, time, or energy to a situation, they really prefer fast results. Yet, change is hard, even when we think we want it to happen. For example:
- Have you tried to change your diet or get back to the gym to look your best?
- Have you promised yourself or others that you would stop doing certain things in your relationships (friends, family, significant others)?
- Have you tried changing your thoughts or feelings (easily)?
- Do you avoid tasks or projects that you need, want, or should do?
Did you “notice” any internal chatter or maybe, even some physical or emotional reactions, to those questions? Our internal world often “reacts” about things we have done, are doing, or want to do. This is truly a common source of inner conflict. The 3 As help with inner and outer dilemmas. And to move forward with greater ease, they need to be done in order: awareness first, then acceptance, and finally action. Awareness & acceptance are like rocket fuel for action; without it expect possible stalling or burning out.
Let’s break the 3As down a bit more:
AWARENESS: To problem solve or course-correct, you need to know what you’re dealing with. What’s working? What helps? What doesn’t? Who is on board with a change and who isn’t? With awareness, you are taking stock or taking inventory of what works and doesn’t work (not what is right or wrong, good or bad). This is a good place to practice discernment versus judgment and to get feedback from your support “team.”
ACCEPTANCE: This does NOT mean approval, “liking,” agreeing, or sanctioning. It is a state of non-resistance and non-denial, honoring the “truth” or reality of the situation, present moment. This can involve empathy & compassion, grace & grit, and instead of constriction….create an openness to explore possibilities for growth.
ACTION: With an understanding of the “problem,” an inventory of what works and doesn’t, and acceptance and permission to address the issue, a plan for action is needed and implemented. Without awareness you are likely to throw resources at a problem hoping something will help or stick. Without acceptance you are likely to get pulled into thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that disrupt forward movement. Even with awareness & acceptance, action can be difficult to maintain or sustain. This is where support for the “plan” is helpful. I help my clients with the 3 As by supporting them in the process of awareness, acceptance, and action….& the inevitable challenges that arise with any wanted (or not wanted) change. Renee is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing therapy to residents of Arkansas and Missouri. Renee offers services to people everywhere related to Life/Relationship/Business Coaching.