Practicing the "Radical Acceptance" DBT Skill in Baby Steps

There is an enormous relief that comes with practicing the "Radical Acceptance" DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skill.  When you embrace a situation, emotion, or feeling without trying to change it -- when you accept it with 100% of your body, mind, and spirit, you can gain a sense of peace that isn't otherwise possible.

Before I go on, "acceptance"  does NOT mean "approval." It doesn't even mean that you like the situation, emotion, or feeling that has taken place or arisen.  An extreme example of "Radical Acceptance" is if someone were to say, "I accept that I was abused as a child," and she truly felt and believed this with all of her being.

This person is not saying that she approves of the fact that she was abused, that she likes that it happened, or anything like that.  She is simply fully acknowledging that no matter what she does, says, or hopes for, we can't go back in time and change the past. What has happened has happened. As painful, unfair, and horrible as it was, the fact is, she was abused as a child.  She is accepting reality.

Most of us have to start off practicing this skill in baby steps.  I have a tiny example to share with you that happened today.

I decided to try to sleep less in order to not go down the road of depression and so that I would have more time in the day to work on productive things. Somehow, last night, I forgot to set my alarm.  I eventually woke up on my own, of course, but an hour later than I had planned.

Unfortunately, the first word out of my mouth as I jumped up in bed was "F#ck!"

I then took a deep breath and realized, fully, that getting upset wasn't going to give me that hour back.  I radically accepted that I slept past my intended time and that I could still have a positive, productive day if I just got started then and there.

Something to notice about my example is that there was "cause" for me getting up late.  Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT Therapy, often talks about "the laws of the Universe" and how everything "has a cause."  In this case, my forgetting to set the alarm caused me to not wake up on time.  I am finding that sometimes examining the cause(s) behind a situation help me to radically accept it.

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Have you ever used radical acceptance?  In what situation(s)?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.


  1. I am trying to practice this in my marriage. But I am having a rough time with it. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

  2. I think I've been coming to terms with a lot of difficult things from the past - I've used Radical Acceptance to deal with my sister disowning me - it was very painful, but when I stopped struggling to either understand or change the past and her actions in cutting me, I have been able to grieve and move on - of course it wasn't a once only decision it has taken me to revisit the skills around acceptance again and again. I have also blogged about using RA in letting go of my past (Trigger Warning)

    1. Alma -- that's a huge piece to use Radical Acceptance. Very brave.



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