Why Radical Acceptance Can Help Stop Suffering!

person thinking on a bench at dusk in front of the ocean

I first learned about radical acceptance in therapy because my Mother passed away.

Her passing was unexpected, because we thought she was going to get better.

I kept thinking, if she only would’ve gone to her appointments, things could’ve been different.

The fact is, she didn’t go to her appointments and sadly it’s not different.

We can’t go back and change what happened, even though it would be wonderful.

Because I was arguing with reality, my therapist directed me toward “Radical Acceptance”.

What is Radical Acceptance?

Radical Acceptance is “acknowledging reality”.

When a situation, event, or emotion is out of our control, fighting against it (i.e. non-acceptance) often leads to suffering” says the Huffington Post.

Radical acceptance lets us focus on the pain, instead of the suffering.

Fighting, blaming and going on rants, creates suffering and adds to the pain.

When life is painful, accepting reality is difficult.

When Is Radical Acceptance Used?

Radical acceptance can be applied to the loss of a loved one, a break up, or the loss of a job.

SkylandTrail.org says you can practice Radical Acceptance by taking these steps:

  1. Observe that you are fighting against reality. (Ex: “It shouldn’t be like this.”)
  2. Remind yourself that the unpleasant reality cannot be changed. (Ex: “It happened.”)
  3. Acknowledge that something led to this moment. (Ex: “This is how it happened.”)
  4. Practice acceptance with not only your mind, but your body and spirit. Be mindful of your breath, posture, and use skills like half-smiling and willing hands.
  5. List what your behavior would look like if you did accept the facts then act accordingly.
  6. Plan ahead with events that seem unacceptable and think about how you should appropriately cope.
  7. Remain mindful of physical sensations throughout your body such as tension or stress.
  8. Embrace feelings such as disappointment, sadness, or grief.
  9. Acknowledge that life is worth living even when there might be temporary pain.
  10. If you find yourself resisting, complete a pros and cons exercise to better understand the full impact of your choice.

Accepting reality is difficult when life is painful. No one wants to experience pain, disappointment, sadness, or loss. But those experiences are a part of life. When you attempt to avoid or resist those emotions, you add suffering to your pain. You may build the emotion bigger with your thoughts or create more misery by attempting to avoid the painful emotions. You can stop suffering by practicing acceptance” explains Psychology Today.

Have you ever been in a sad situation where you argued with reality?

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