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How to Cope Now with Awareness: #AcknowledgeAssessAssist

Negative situations alter your life. As a social worker and coping strategist, grief processing with mindfulness and cognitive reframing are prime methods that I use to help you cope through negative life altering situations. Acknowledge, Assess, Assist are the components of the 3-A Coping Framework I developed that houses these methods. The intention is to empower so you can monitor yourself with awareness while being present to cope through adversity and loss.

When situations of adversity and loss strike, you are contending with negativity. You may be faced with a death, serious illness in the family, conflict in the workplace, a marriage breakdown or other challenging situation. Whatever the situation, there is loss. An assumption of the 3-A Coping Framework is that wherever there is adversity, there is situation loss.

Situational loss is the loss of a person, thing or quality resulting from alteration of a life situation, including changes related to illness, body image, environment and death.

~Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 2009 8th Ed.

By addressing and processing the situational loss(es), there are potential benefits such as strengthened resiliency, truth, resolution and personal growth.

The simplest way to describe how to apply the 3-A’s is:

Acknowledge the loss(es), Assess the impact of the loss(es), Assist with strategies. The 3-A's also do not have to be applied in any particular order. You are Assisting by Acknowledging and Assessing. In this manner, Acknowledge, Assess, Assist is applied simultaneously and can be expressed like one word #AcknowledgeAssessAssist. The power of using this tool is that by monitoring yourself with awareness, you hold the controls for your well-being.

To demonstrate, 75 year old Joan is a caregiver for her 64 year old husband who had a stroke which left him living with dementia. Due to the illness, Joan lost the spouse as she knew him, the roles he played in their marriage including being the primary breadwinner. Another loss was the future plan that he, being so much younger would be taking care of her. In counseling Joan is helped to process the losses and grief by guiding her in acknowledging the reality of the initial loss of her husband's health and the subsequent losses stemming from it, assessing how she was being impacted. For Joan, the emotional impact was hopelessness and anger. While assisting her in coming to terms with the situation and moving towards a place of resolution, Joan is empowered with methods that help her to monitor herself with awareness such as cognitive reframing, shifting the negative thinking that was influencing her original hopeless and anger feelings.

Since negative circumstances can leave you vulnerable, you are more prone to negative thinking. It is helpful to be aware that your negative thoughts can bring you down and prevent you from living in the present moment. Albert Ellis, the founder of rational emotive therapy referred to them as automatic thoughts that are distorted. Although you may identify with your thoughts, you are not your thoughts. You derive the sense of who you are from what your thoughts are telling you which can be dangerous when they are distorted and not based on reality. So monitoring and being aware helps rather than not being conscious of damaging thoughts.

Try applying #AcknowledgeAssessAssist for yourself with an assist exercise of self observation. If you are already in tune with your thoughts, this will not be as challenging than if you are not in tune with your thoughts.:

Take a few minutes while focusing on your breath to observe the thoughts that come up.– the inner voice that speaks to you. Just observe without judgment....Is your thinking negative or positive or neutral? Is it critical, judgmental or is it kind? Is it hard to connect with your thoughts - your inner voice?

Do you want to get empowered through monitoring yourself with awareness?

What are the circumstances you are living with now?

Could you use some guidance to cope? It's a strength not a weakness to ask for assistance.

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