There is a famous saying that.
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
It suggests that pain is an inevitable part of life; suffering, however, arises from not accepting the pain. What makes this quote helpful is that it not only discerns between pain and suffering, two concepts we often use interchangeably, but it also recognizes that we have power in the face of challenges. We have the ability to accept things as they are.
So what is Radical acceptance? It is accepting what is not under your control and not resisting what is happening in the present in a non-judgmental way.
When you wholeheartedly and radically accept pain, it can reduce suffering.
Marsha Linehan, a leading psychologist who introduced the idea of radical acceptance into Western societies, sums it up: "Radical acceptance rests on letting go of the illusion of control and a willingness to notice and accept things as they are right now, without judging."
It is a "complete and total openness to the facts of reality as they are, without throwing a tantrum and growing angry." (2021; p. 503).
When we practice radical acceptance, we are not saying what is happing is ok or acceptable. We accept and acknowledge that we are not in control of the circumstance.
Learning to accept things that we can not change and dropping all judgment frees us up to show up in any circumstance with more compassion and understanding. Thus, building better relations with ourselves and with others.
Practicing radical acceptance helps us to learn how to respond to circumstances instead of reacting to them.
Radical acceptance can be learned and practiced. In fact, this strategy can help people accept themselves wholeheartedly and increase well-being.
How to Practice Radical Acceptance
Acknowledge the present. The most important part is to be mindful of your situation, paying attention to it in a non-judgmental way. However, this does not mean you should accept abusive or manipulative behavior; it just means accepting the reality, whether you like it or not.
Ask yourself if you can control or change the situation. If you can't control what happens, why are you getting angry? It can be painful to acknowledge that you're not always in control, but it can also be freeing.
Let go of judgment. Practicing radical acceptance means letting go of judgment and experiencing things as they are.
Let the past be in the past. Remind yourself that the past cannot be changed. The past is behind you, and meditation on the past instead of the presence can steal your peace.
Breathe. This may sound simple, but it can be highly effective. Whenever you are fighting reality, your body may get tense in parts such as the shoulders, face, or stomach. So take deep breaths for a few moments and focus on them. You may ground yourself to the present moment when you practice watching your breath and become more relaxed.
Be patient. Choose to practice radical acceptance daily and understand that it takes time to master it.
Practice. Practice accepting situations so you'll have already developed these skills when bigger challenges arise.
Radical acceptance can be a valuable skill for improving personal well-being and interpersonal relationships. Hopefully, the information provided here gives you some ideas for how to practice it in your life.
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