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.
Have you ever used radical acceptance? In what situation(s)?
Thanks for reading.