Totally Radical

With the holidays approaching, there may be interactions or events that will leave you in a less than positive mood. Perhaps you’re forced to speak with a family member you do not click with or maneuver airport lines and traffic because you are going out of town. These less-than-ideal scenarios may lead to a destructive or impulsive response that can cause you and those you love a lot of hurt and pain. Well, have no fear! Radical Acceptance is here!

What Does Radical Acceptance Mean?

If we breakdown the term “radical acceptance,” we can first understand the word radical to mean extreme or complete. We can infer that this word of extreme would then apply to the word in which it precedes: acceptance. You may already know this word to mean approval or agreement. However, in the context we are using it with, acceptance will be more similar to acknowledgement or recognition. If we put these two words together, we form the concept of extreme acknowledgement! I would assume this does not make much sense, but I promise it will.

What is Radical Acceptance?

Radical acceptance is a technique from Dialectal Behavior Therapy, which is a form of cognitive therapy that focuses on mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. Radical acceptance is a form of distress tolerance where the individual stops fighting the turmoil that may be occurring in their reality. Distressing over events that are out of our control uses a considerable amount of energy. This lack of energy and general distress results in feelings of anxiety, shame, guilt, anger or other unwanted feelings. When we experience negative emotions, we tend to focus on the dread of the emotion more and more until it is overwhelming. The overwhelming emotion seems out of our control and thus the cycle of turmoil continues on. Radical acceptance allows us to comprehensively acknowledge and understand our situation while also moving through the emotions that stem from it. But where do you start?

How Do I Radically Accept Something?

Let us start at the very beginning by first observing that you are fighting against reality. Awareness is more than likely always the first step in any therapeutic technique as it brings the issue at hand to light instead of letting it fester in the darkness of our minds. We then look within our realm of control and recognize that the past or the current unpleasant reality is not something within our control, and thus, cannot be changed. Of course, if something is within our control, by all means, take the proper steps to make changes; radical acceptance is to be used to process situations outside of our control.

Now that we have recognized the reality of the situation, we move on to practicing the acceptance of this reality in your whole mind, body, and spirit. This can be done via self-talk, relaxation techniques, mindfulness, etc. Again, this acceptance is not stating that the situation is okay or correct, it simply exists in this reality as do we. We also practice this acceptance by engaging in behaviors that reflect the acceptance of your current reality instead of behaviors that support the disconnection from it. In essence, you are foreseeing what your reality could look like should you accept the situation and turning that imagery into a new perspective for your reality.

But It Hurts

In theory, radical acceptance is great on paper: accept the unpleasant situation and move forward – sounds simple enough. However, what is not conveyed on paper are the emotions tied to this struggle. Your unpleasant reality comes with many negative emotions that must be fully processed in order to accept your reality and move forward. Allow yourself to feel these feelings, cope with them, and acknowledge that life can be worth living even in pain, for without pain, we would not know joy.

Radical acceptance is a challenging concept. If you are interested in learning more about acknowledging and accepting your current reality, give us a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here

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Krista Bassani, LPC

Krista Bassani, LPC

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