• Nicole Bentley, LCSW

Radical Acceptance: A Stormy Challenge

Radical Acceptance comes from Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT) and is the practice of completely accepting the past and the present moment just as it is. From there, a person can continue accepting what they cannot change, or work to change their future based on what is in their control. Radical Acceptance is vital for living a life of reduced suffering, yet many people feel like it is out of reach. Let’s examine how we all practice radical acceptance daily without even knowing it. With continued practice and awareness, Radical Acceptance can become more attainable and second nature.

How we dress for the weather is a perfect example of how we practice Radical Acceptance every single day. Take the following scenario: Jane wakes up and checks the weather only to find that it will be raining all day. She does not like the rain because she walks a long distance to and from work. Jane feels frustrated but she knows she needs to prepare for the rain. She grabs her boots, puts her work shoes in her bag, grabs an umbrella, and walks out the door.

In that scenario, Jane was bummed to see that it would be raining all day. However, she did not let that stop her from preparing for the rain. Radical Acceptance does not mean that we like or approve of what is happening. Jane did not like that it was raining, and she still prepared for it as an act of Radical Acceptance. If Jane were not accepting, she would suffer. She might have not brought an umbrella in hopes that the rain wouldn’t come, and she would be wet and miserable.

Let’s also look at Jane’s attitude as we discuss Radical Acceptance. We know that Jane’s actions were rooted in Radical Acceptance because despite not approving of the rain, she dressed appropriately to prevent suffering.

While she was walking in the rain, Jane shifted her perspective towards what she is grateful for and what she must accomplish that day at work.

When she arrived at work, instead of complaining about the weather to her co-workers, she talked about how nice it is to be inside and enjoying the look of the rain outside of her window. In this example, Jane’s perspective and words were also aligned with Radical Acceptance, which further reduced her level of suffering. Applying these concepts to other topics, such as relationships, work, and emotions can be challenging, but now we know that we are capable and have the skills to accept our reality.

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