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Radical Acceptance: What Is It and How Does It Help? (Part 2)

If you read my last blog post referencing the Psychology Today article, “Radical Acceptance” by author Karyn Hall, Ph.D., you may be wondering what exactly does radical acceptance even look like and how to practice it? Below are the remaining key points from Dr. Hall’s article. 

  • What does acceptance look like? Instead of saying ruminating things like, “this isn’t my fault. This isn’t fair. I can’t believe this happened to me” we can shift our mindset to saying things like, “I’m in this uncomfortable situation. I don’t like it. I don’t think it is okay with me, but this is part of life, it is what it is, and I can’t change that it already happened.” For example, imagine that you are late for an important doctor appointment because of Chicago rush hour traffic. Yelling at the drivers in front of you won’t make the traffic go away. It also won’t get you to your doctor appointment any sooner. It won’t make you feel any better, in fact it will make you feel more upset and stressed. Accepting the traffic and situation and doing the best you personally can in that situation will help you feel less stressed and anxious about being late to your appointment. With acceptance, you will arrive to your appointment feeling less stressed and the doctor’s office will either be able to see you then, later that day, or worst-case scenario, schedule you for the next available appointment. 
  • Practice makes perfect. Radical acceptance is a skill that is very hard to practice. It is skill that takes time and energy to build. It’s not easy to accept that it is raining on your beach vacation day or when your friend gets sick last minute and changes plans. Practicing acceptance doesn’t mean that you’re not still frustrated, sad, annoyed, angry, anxious, it simply means that you don’t add the non-acceptance emotions to make it even worse for yourself. If you start to practice acceptance for more day to day stressors, it will prepare you for the inevitable part of life that as you get older, you will likely lose a loved one. The death of people you care about will always be an incredibly painful experience for people. Grief is a very intense emotion that is normal when one loses someone they care about. With practicing radical acceptance, you can better allow yourself to feel those feelings and not shame yourself for being human and having a variety of feelings all at the exact same time. 
  • Why people don’t accept reality. Sometimes people are so distressed with something, they refuse to even believe that it is happening because they have convinced themselves they are “giving in” or agreeing with it. It is important to note that we cannot control the pain associated with unfortunate things in our lives, but we do have control over the way we react to it and also how much we suffer from the experience.    
  • How to start practicing today? Some things in life that are unfortunate have possible solutions; if they don’t, then maybe we change our perspective on it, and if that doesn’t work, then we practice acceptance of what the problem is. Some people can even practice radical acceptance through mindfulness exercises simply with breathing exercises to observe your thoughts and repetitive mantras simply stating, “it is what it is.” Life isn’t always easy, but with practicing acceptance, it can make it more manageable. 

If you are currently struggling with practicing acceptance, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment. 

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