Accept, Change or Eliminate
Deciding how to approach challenges or issues we face in our life can sometimes leaves us stuck in the problem. “What should I do?” “How should I handle this?” “I don’t even know where to start.” These are questions/statements that many of us tell ourselves when we are confused and faced with a dilemma. Of course, we experience this in different degrees depending on the complexity and significance of the situation at hand. We also tend to seek the advice of those we trust in helping us consider different ways of handling any given problem.
Based on personal and professional experience, I have developed an approach that I call the ACE principle. There are up to three ways to solve any issue: accept, change or eliminate. This allows us to simplify our problem into realistic, potential solutions. Keep in mind that not all problems offer all three options as a solution; however, systematically evaluating each of these three options provides more clarity in determining the best personal approach.
The first option is Change. Change is an option that we get stuck in believing is our best solution to our problem. “My relationship is unsatisfying, but I am waiting for ______ (him/her/life) to change.” The only time that change is a valid option is if it is applied to oneself. Learning that one can’t change others is something most of us learn after a few failed attempts. People do not usually change just because someone else wants them to. The only way others will change is when they decide that they want/need to change. So, even if others decide to change, it is up to them to determine when and how to make that change. Supporting others in making the changes they want to make tends to be the most effective way of helping. In the same regard, you are the only one that can change you. So, if the solution to the problem involves self change that you desire, then change is a realistic option. If it means that someone or something else has to change, then you need to move on to the other two options, eliminate or accept.
The second option is Eliminate. This is a suitable option for issues such as addiction or when we find ourselves in danger. We can eliminate some unhealthy people in our lives by choosing not to continue a relationship with them. We can eliminate behaviors that we don’t want to continue. One can eliminate activities that are not benefiting or are harming. However, there are some situations in which elimination is not an option. Most of us would agree that eliminating people from this world is not an option; however, we can eliminate certain people from our lives. If you are having a problem with your boss, You can’t eliminate him from being your boss; you could, however, eliminate your job which removes the need to interact with him.
The third option is Accept. This is the only option left when the other two options have been ruled out. Acceptance can many times be the hardest option to achieve. This is why so many of us get stuck in the hope that someone or something else will change. As stated earlier, it is not realistic to expect others to change and there are times when elimination is not a desired option; this is when acceptance becomes the only answer. Back to the example about being in a dissatisfying relationship, if I can’t expect him/her to change and I’m not willing to eliminate him/her from my life, then acceptance is the only way to approach a that particular situation.
The ACE principle is used to help clients work through the realistic possibilities for handling the challenges they face in life. By systematically going through each option, we can define the appropriate plan of action moving forward based upon each person’s individual needs and circumstances.
By: Catherine Warnock
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