When was the last time you were surrounded by problems, pain, and misery, and you desperately wished your life was different? Maybe you wanted that something traumatic and terrible from your past hadn’t occurred at all, or you wished you didn’t have to deal with so many stressful situations all at once.
Life is a journey full of uncountable ups and downs. Therefore, feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and downright defeated as you move through them is normal. But dwelling extensively on the ‘what-if’ scenarios can stray your perspective away from the present moment and make it difficult to make sense of your reality. Eventually, this affects your overall ability to navigate challenging life situations and negatively impacts your future.
Therefore, it is extremely important to stay grounded in moments when finding any shred of hope or light is difficult. But how do you do it?
Enter radical acceptance – the age-old Buddhist concept of truly accepting your past and present in order to create the future of your dreams. Let us dive deeper into what radical acceptance is and how you can incorporate the practice into your life.
What is radical acceptance?
Radical acceptance is one of the skills taught in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) developed by Marsha Linehan at the Univeristy of Washington. DBT aims to teach people mindfulness, healthy ways to cope with regular stressors, and the ability to regulate one’s emotions effectively.
Radical acceptance is the process of accepting your emotional and physical problems and stressors – from something as small as being stuck in traffic to more significant issues like traumatic life events and much more – and finally accepting your situation wholeheartedly.
Radical acceptance is about acknowledging and accepting the reality of the moment you are in. While it might sound counterproductive and ineffective, accepting adverse life circumstances can actually end up making you feel better.
Additionally, acceptance does not mean you approve of whatever is happening to you. It simply means you are accepting the reality of the situation and empowering yourself to now focus your energy on finding solutions rather than denying the problem altogether.
Why is radical acceptance a useful practice?
The sad and harsh reality of the world we live in is that pain is an inseparable part of our lives. We are bound to feel it at some point or the other. We cannot stray away from negative situations and emotions all our life, no matter how much we try. However, we can reduce the suffering and pain attached to these situations and emotions, and this is where radical acceptance helps you.
Radical acceptance frees the space in your brain occupied by feelings of restlessness and denial and instead opens you up to new ways to cope and recover from your situation.
The practical benefits of using radical acceptance include the following:
- better coping skills from stressors,
- emotional regulation abilities,
- better communication skills,
- healthier relationships with people,
- increased tolerance levels, and
- an overall increase in well-being.
Read more: Why Do We Find Self-Acceptance So Hard?
How to practice radical acceptance as a beginner?
1. Learn to recognize the behaviors that restrict your acceptance.
All of us have certain behaviors that we practice when we can’t or don’t want to accept our present situation. Maybe you go into the imaginary ‘what-if’ scenarios, complain and crib about your life, or engage in rash and aggressive behaviors.
Identifying these behaviors that limit your acceptance abilities is one of the keys to channeling radical acceptance in your life. Once you understand these behaviors, you can successfully counteract them the next time they occur.
2. Focus on the things that you can control instead of what you cannot.
We tend to focus a lot on things that we cannot control. Yes, there are a lot of things and aspects of your life that are beyond your control. On the other hand, there are almost an equal number of things that you can control too.
Therefore, for anyone looking to cultivate the habit of radical acceptance in their life, it is essential to define the lines of control in different aspects of your life and channel your energy to them.
3. Fake it until you eventually make it.
Another lesser-known but often powerful way to practice radical acceptance is by pretending that you have already developed the ability. This means having an internal talk with yourself and acting as if you have already accepted the thing you are having a lot of difficulties accepting otherwise. This might be difficult and unpleasant at first, which is absolutely okay. But as you go along accepting the things that come your way, albeit fake, you will eventually feel that you have internalized the practice in the truest sense.
Radical acceptance is the practice of accepting the reality of your situation without judgments and ‘what-ifs.’ It requires a great deal of compassion, awareness, and courage. We hope this post will help you move forward in the right direction and begin the process of radical acceptance in your life.
Apart from radical acceptance, there are other forms of acceptance that can make dealing with your life situations so much better and more manageable. Emotional acceptance is the ability to accept your emotions, no matter how difficult they are. To learn more about practicing it, click here.
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