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Awareness-Acceptance-Action: the Triple-A of Change

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” - Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person

We want to feel better, we really do. Carl Rogers pointed out that we often skip a crucial step when we try to make changes.

We often are trying to move from our awareness that something is wrong, from worry about the future or regret of the past or a similar awareness. Our awareness is often loaded with judgement. We are not focused on where we are in the present, with acceptance rather than judgement. When we look at it this way, it’s not surprising that our efforts result in a lot less change than we wanted. Even when we are willing and able to put in the effort necessary. If we are not moving from the present — where we really are — most of our effort will be ineffective.

If this is an important part of the difficulty with making movement or change, then it should be easy to solve, right? All we have to do is focus on where we are in the present, with acceptance rather than judgement. Actually, this is something that is relatively hard to do without practice. Fortunately, there are ways we can learn to be present without judgement and use the resources we already have inside us to accept ourselves as we are. This turns out to be an essential step and usually brings its own relief, even before we make the changes.

Awareness-Acceptance-Action. To make changes, we need the awareness, we need the action. And it turns out there is a step between them — acceptance — that makes all the difference.

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