Does Suffering Destroy You or Make You Grow? (Borderline Personality Disorder)

Those who have been following my blog for some time know who Dr. Marsha Linehan is, but for those of you who are new (welcome!), Dr. Linehan founded DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), the treatment of choice for people diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).

She conducted a search out of curiosity as to why some people seemed to be destroyed by suffering while others seemed to thrive and grow from the experience.

A large component of DBT is Mindfulness, and part of mindfulness is a concept called Radical Acceptance.  It is such an important concept for us to grasp in our wellness that Dr. Linehan has said:

The difference between those who are DESTROYED by suffering and those who grow is Radical Acceptance of the painful moment.

Acceptance can be mapped on a continuum as shown here:

So, what does it mean to "Radically Accept" the painful moment? 

To begin with, mindfulness is the practice of acceptance, and acceptance means we live our lives with our eyes open.  There are so many ways that we live with our eyes closed when we have painful experiences.  Sometimes we avoid, deny, try to get rid of, or try to suppress the pain. None of these work for too long.

Because we've become so used to closing our eyes to our pain, we must practice by accepting what we can in each moment.

Some ways to practice are:

  • Directing your attention to only one thing in the moment. For example, if you're eating, just eat. If you're listening, just listen. If you're reading, just read.
  • Remember that the strength to bear the suffering of your life is in this moment.  Why suffer for the future when you have enough to deal with right now?  
  • If you have an urge to quit and give up, it doesn't mean that you have to follow through with it. There is power in acknowledging that the thought of quitting is just that. It's a thought. It doesn't have any power over you. You don't have to quit just because the thought occurred. 
  • You can CHOOSE to not thinking about the issue rather than deny it. You can consciously imagine putting the issue in a box on a shelf in order to deal with it later. You can do this when the thoughts are getting to be too much or you need or want to focus your attention elsewhere for the time being.
  • Remember that you are the one NOTICING your experience. You are not your experience!

One of the goals of mental health is that we become integrated. By accepting, rather than denying our experience, we become more whole.

What areas in your life do you need to practice Radical Acceptance?
Is there anything you are consciously accepting?
Do you notice any areas where you've been living with eyes closed?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

1 comment:

  1. This is something i struggle with. Through treatment i feel i am "waking up" ... I have lived my whole life in the dark.
    It's hard to live in the moment, this is something i am working on. When i notice my mind wandering, story telling, getting caught up in past traumas, i tell myself that this is not happening to me now. And then i bring my attention back to what i am doing in that moment. I do need to do this more.
    Thanks for posting this:)



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