The Triple A: Awareness, Acceptance, Action

Today I’m writing about the Triple A: my shortform for Awareness, Acceptance and Action. These three elements often interlink and are an important part to a mindful and fulfilling life.

In any given situation where an action has resulted, we are to varying degrees aware of our state and situation, then accepting of the situation (whether good or bad or neutral) before we take action. Varying levels in awareness, acceptance and action can result in very different outcomes to a given situation.

In mindfulness, we always talk about awareness. Being aware of your thoughts, feelings, actions and surroundings without being judgmental. It can be a difficult skill to learn and maintain. This week I was struggling with being aware and as a result was not very accepting of situations, which resulted in incorrect actions that upset myself and others. It is incredibly important to be aware of what you are doing and feeling, what others are doing and feeling and your environment, otherwise you can act in ways that are unintentionally harmful. By being aware and non-judgmental, this allows endless fruitful possibilities.

Awareness is the start of a path of wisdom. By being aware and non-judgmental, you are able to see the true nature of all things. You can see what you are thinking and feeling and the root of your thoughts and feelings. You can see the beauty of all things that usually go unnoticed. You can experience each second fully when your awareness is completely open.

Awareness is incredibly important. The openness or lack of it can result in amazing or disastrous outcomes accordingly. For this is the beginning of where all actions spur. An open awareness can see all routes forward clearly and choose calmly. A closed awareness is like having tunnel vision – there seems only to ever be one route forward and a lack of choices. It can result in stress or a feeling of forcing oneself.

Next comes Acceptance. Accepting situations, good or bad, means we can take appropriate action. A lack of acceptance often results in us treading old ground and seemingly going in circles. We try the same path over and over and it never reaches the outcome we desire. Often this is because we haven’t fully accepted our situation. More often this occurs when something is disagreeable, like having to accept that we are wrong or that there is a limitation within our environment, or that something we want cannot be met instantaneously. In these types of cases, we may feel like we’re continuously trying but failing. Sometimes we need to stop and return to step 1 of the Triple A: Awareness. We need to open our eyes to our situation without judgment or fear. What situation are we really in? What haven’t we noticed or refused to notice before? Gradually, by working with our awareness, we can accept the true nature of our situation and take correct action.

Action. Correct action. Whilst we can take action with limited awareness, it can feel like we’re on a one track road. For some people, this is all they know. There only ever seems one way forward rather than multiple ways. ‘This is just how it is meant to be’. In these cases, I suggest that you dare to dream. Dare to dream of all possible actions you or someone in your situation could take even if it doesn’t seem a natural fit to you. You will see that there are many options and it is a matter of you choosing the outcome that you want. But you need to open your awareness and take in external factors which you cannot control as these can seemingly derail your efforts. You need to remember the core rule of action, which is that you are in charge of your actions and others are in charge of their actions. Don’t dream possibilities that involve another person changing. You have to ‘be the change you want to see’ as they say. You also need to be kind to yourself during the process and accept what opportunities or limitations there may be in your situation and again to be aware of how to work with these.

You should always act from a place of calm. It is easy to act from places of anger or fearfulness, but these will never result in the correct outcome. More anger and pain will be the only result. When acting from a place of calm, you have chosen a clear path and will find it very easy to move forward.

awareness acceptance action
Awareness, Acceptance, Action

I often find work to be a great example of how things can go right or wrong depending on varying levels of Awareness, Acceptance and Action. For example, you may have a lot of work items and tight deadlines and wonder why someone is pressurising you to deliver items with great urgency. The result of the situation can materialise in a number of ways:

1) Open awareness, fast acceptance, action: You understand that you have a lot of work to do and that you are being pressurised because the other person also has a lot of work committed and is reliant upon your actions. You accept this is a stressful situation, but the work must be done. You do it. It’s over and you move on.

2) Lack of awareness, lack of acceptance, action/inaction: You know you have a lot of work to do and can’t believe the unfairness of it. Someone is pressuring you and you hate them and argue or feel like arguing. You can’t accept this situation and either have an argument or push out a poor piece of work or refuse to work. You feel angry and annoyed.

3) Awareness, lack of acceptance, action/inaction. You understand you have a lot of work and it needs to be done. You know someone is pressuring you and that they are under pressure themselves and reliant on your action. You can’t believe the injustice of the workload. You keep panicking. How is all of this work going to get done? You can’t complete it…it’ll never be done. The work ends up completed in a rush or remains incomplete.

It does come down to choice as to how something can turn out, but requires practicing awareness and acceptance. These are not easy things to learn, but are worthwhile the effort. We all can mess up from time to time, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep trying and practicing. It’s also important to make sure during the whole process that you do not deny or suppress your feelings. It is possible to feel angry or sad and still walk the clear path, so long as you’re accepting of yourself and any given situation.

I often get asked how I seem to get so much done and fit so much into my life. Part of the answer lies above. Most of the time (but not yet all of the time, as I am only human), I walk a clear path with ease and limited conflict. I’ve learnt through practicing the above and experimenting with my responses to situations how to walk a clear path. Sometimes it will be a difficult journey, especially where there is no frame of reference. But once times become turbulent, that is the time to stop for a moment and try to be aware, no matter how difficult it can be. Stop, take a breath, focus on your immediate senses to clear your mind, and work on the Triple A.

2 thoughts on “The Triple A: Awareness, Acceptance, Action

  1. Hello there: I am a student and also a graduate of dialectical behaviour therapy. As such, in DBT I learned about the AAA behaviour change model. I am writing a paper in English Composition this week and want to credit the originator of the AAA model. Do you happen to know who that is? Thanks kindly.

    1. Hi owl615, lovely to hear from you. Unfortunately I don’t as I was writing more from a personal observation but can see after reading your comment and searching that it is a model in psychology as you mentioned. Within mindfulness we practice this type of model in an experiential sense (only awareness and acceptance is implicitly taught – the ‘action’ I added on the end), so it’s kind of baked in to our way of learning 🙂 The only AAAM that I could find reference to in an article was Rutledge and Abell. In terms of only awareness and acceptance (but not action), you can look at the Philadephia Mindfulness scale. Good luck with the paper!

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