The Secret to Coping: Aware, Accept, Act

Three, easy to remember, words that basically sum up “coping skills.” Try this out next time you are feeling upset or dissatisfied in any way.

Aware – We have to have enough distance from what’s happening to be aware of it. If we are “mindlessly” doing something, or impulsively doing something, we are not aware.

Accept – Not accepting reality can take many forms: a vague irritability, righteous anger, feeling like a victim, acting distant or shut-down, etc. I like to think about it as a tantrum that a two year old might throw – “I want it MY WAY!,” so we protest by dragging our feet, screaming, or giving the silent treatment. If we don’t accept what is happening, there’s no way we can effectively cope.

Act – Do what you can to remedy the situation. Take action through communication, getting something done, or changing your attitude. When we take action without awareness and acceptance, we tend to exacerbate situations or be ineffective.

Aware—> Accept—> Act relates to a couple of important concepts in recovery:

Mindfulness can be thought of as the combination of awareness and acceptance. Mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations” (Google Dictionary). It is a prerequisite for any effective action.

The Serenity Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step Groups is as follows:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

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