When your life changes in a way you didn’t expect, it can throw you for a loop.  Sudden change, be it success or tragedy, can turn your life upside down and your heart inside out.  Having a successful coping strategy will give you greater resilience for life’s unexpected challenges.

The 3 A’s of successful coping are:




Anything you would rather not know about or comes as a shock can overwhelm your system with dread.  It’s natural to protect yourself with denial.  News that’s too big or too unwanted requires an adjustment.  You may not be ready to handle it.  You may prefer to run from it or to ignore it but the 3 A’s of successful coping will give you a way to manage it.



            The first A is Acceptance.  It requires you to shake off your denial and grasp the reality of a situation you may not have wanted.  Once you accept the fact that there’s no escaping your situation, you are ready for the next step.



Once you’ve fully acknowledged the fact that there is a situation you must deal with, it’s time to act.  Action involves two components:  gathering information and making a decision if one is needed.  There’s no turning back.  There’s no reversing course.  It is now time to incorporate your action into your life.  Take action despite fear but don’t let fear dictate the action.



Once you have taken action to gather information or to make a change of direction, it sets awarenesses and events into action.  These awarenesses and events then become inescapable.  When you take action, an entire sequence of events may unfold.  Now it’s time for you to adapt to the realizations you’ve made and the actions you’ve taken.  Adapting to the action you’ve taken may seem overwhelming or scary but you can do it by taking one step at a time.

Imagine that you’re running late for an important meeting and that you’ve just come upon a traffic jam.  Now is a good time to put triple A coping into effect.  Acceptance is easy; you may not want to believe it but it’s true:  You will be late for your meeting.  Next comes action.  Perhaps you’ll try calling someone but the most important action in this case is likely to be no action.  As long as you are safe, you could manage better by slowing your breathing and calming yourself.  That’s part of Adaptation:  You’ll need to adapt to your situation by breathing through it, adjusting your schedule and contending with whatever you’ve missed.

Here’s a tougher one.  Your latest medical tests indicate you might have cancer but you’ll need more tests to know for sure.  Acceptance here is tricky:  You have to accept that something scary might happen but you don’t know if it will.  Acceptance means not jumping to premature conclusions but also not ignoring a possible danger.  Action, something you probably would rather not have to do, means collecting information and making a decision to either delay the tests or move ahead with them.  Adaptation then means finding ways to avoid to either decision involves adjusting to how your decision changes how you see your world and what you need to do to manage it, such as who to tell and how to manage your schedule.

You can use the 3 A’s of successful coping for anything that happens in your life.  By practicing it with minor events, you’ll be ready if you need it for a major event.






Shake off your denial and accept the fact that

there is a situation you need to address.


Take action by gathering more information and by

making a decision if one is needed.


Adjust yourself to what you know and deal with the

Consequences of your decisions.

No matter what has happened, you can manage it.