What exactly is Radical Acceptance and how do you “do it.”
Radical Acceptance is something many people get hung up on when learning Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I will admit that it was one of the most difficult skills for me to learn but it has turned into the one that has benefited me the most, hands down. So, what exactly is it?
Radical Acceptance means accepting the world and where you are in that moment
Radical Acceptance is being able to accept the world and the situation in which you find yourself without wishing it away or wishing it to be different. Haruki Murakami, a Buddhist monk popularized the saying, “Life is full of pain but suffering is optional,” and Marsha Linehan incorporated it into the practice of DBT, “Life is full of pain, suffering is optional.”She talks about how she came to the realization that Radical Acceptance was so important for her to put into practice.
Radical Acceptance is connected to Mindfulness
Radical Acceptance is being able to accept exactly where you are in the world at any given moment in time. It is inherently connected to the practice of mindfulness. It is NOT giving permission to anyone who may have hurt you in the past or in any way condoning their behavior. Rather, instead, it is accepting that you can not return to the past and change what happened to you and that you accept that. For me, being able to accept radical acceptance in my life was the way I was able to finally find peace.
Acceptance without Resistance
It means accepting without resisting and that means you are choosing to let go of your negative feelings about what transpired. It means breaking the the ties that keep you in a state of anger or resentment which in turns breaks the cycle that keep you tied to those emotional struggles,I remember as a young girl always being outraged by wrongs I saw being committed in the world and feeling so angry that I could not go and “fix” all the problems that I saw around me. I carried that into my adult life and it turned into anger whenever I felt rejected by anyone.Randy Wolbert writes about Radical Acceptance for Behavioral Tech, Marsha Linehan’s company that teaches facilitators how to teach DBT skills.
Radical Acceptance t was the most difficult skill for me to learn
Radical acceptance was the most difficult skill I learned but it is the one which has helped me the most. Where most people get tripped up with Radical acceptance is that this is not a state one stays in 100% of the time. I would find myself able to radically accept something in the morning but by the time lunch rolls around, I would be experiencing angry feelings about it again. That is completely normal. When that happens you utilize a skill called Turning the Mind. Both of these skills are advanced DBT skills and it took me a long time to be able to really get them and put them into practice
.It is important to practice Radical Acceptance in all aspects of your life
Marsha Linehan talks in her video about her realization that she had to practice Radical Acceptance in all aspects of her life not just the hard things. I think that’s the key for all of us. When you are able to radically accept the world as it is and your place in it, you achieve the kind of freedom we are all longing for at our most basic core because we all crave and desire acceptance. Being able to accept ourselves at our most basic core satisfies this hunger.
Radical Acceptance helped with my relationships with my children
They had all become alienated from me because of my toxic parenting style when they were younger. When they moved away from home, all but one severed ties with me. Angry? Was I angry?? You bet. I raged and flagellated myself over it for years. Yes, I took responsibility for my behavior and I reached out to the three of them with an apology on different occasions with no response. That hurt and I raged some more. In the end, I was able to finally radically accept the situation and being able to do that enabled me to have the strength to finally move forward.I finally forgave myself for not knowing how to be the mother they needed and deserved. I did what I could to try to accept the present as it was, that they no longer wanted to have a relationship with me, and I radically accepted all of it. I went back and forth out in and out of Radical Acceptance for months. And each time I went out of that state of mind, I would turn my mind and make the choice to re-enter it. Gradually over time, my pain and anger subsided and I began to feel better. I stopped blaming myself for what had happened and I chose life again and I started to live again.Radical Acceptance is what finally finished my healing process regarding my children and those lost relationships. I can not go back and relieve those awful times with all the skills I have learned and I accept that. But I no longer beat myself up over it. I don’t say to myself, “Let it go.” I say, “Let it be.”©Dee Chan 2020
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