We sometimes wish we could protect friends or loved ones from the consequences of their actions. We’d like to pick up the pieces after they’ve made a mess of their lives. Or we fail to look at the dark side of someone’s motives because we want only the best. Perhaps it is our controlling willfulness that tries to make things into what we want, rather than accept things as they really are.
What is Radical Acceptance?
Radical acceptance is a distress tolerance skill that is designed to keep pain from turning into suffering.
While pain is part of life, radical acceptance allows us to keep that pain from becoming suffering by accepting the facts of reality without responding with a tantrum or willful negligence. In other words, it is what it is.
However, radical acceptance is NOT approval, but rather completely and totally accepting with our mind, body and spirit that we cannot currently change the present facts, even if we do not like them. By choosing to radically accept the things that are out of our control, we prevent ourselves from becoming stuck in unhappiness, bitterness, anger and sadness and we can stop suffering.
Check out this video sharing short stories and inspiration for acceptance:
Here are the 10 steps to practicing Radical Acceptance according to DBT’s founder, Marsha Linehan:
- Observe that you are questioning or fighting reality (“it shouldn’t be this way”)
- Remind yourself that the unpleasant reality is just as it is and cannot be changed (“this is what happened”)
- Remind yourself that there are causes for the reality (“this is how things happened”)
- Practice accepting with your whole self (mind, body, spirit) – Use accepting self-talk, relaxation techniques, mindfulness and/or imagery
- List all of the behaviors you would engage in if you did accept the facts and then engage in those behaviors as if you have already accepted the facts
- Imagine, in your mind’s eye, believing what you do not want to accept and rehearse in your mind what you would do if you accepted what seems unacceptable
- Attend to body sensations as you think about what you need to accept
- Allow disappointment, sadness or grief to arise within you
- Acknowledge that life can be worth living even when there is pain
- Do pros and cons if you find yourself resisting practicing acceptance