radical acceptance

Have you ever been given tragic news and responded “I can’t believe it?” Been handed frustrating circumstances and wonder how “unfair” life can be? Often, to shield ourselves from confronting pain and moving forward into a positive future, we react to painful moments with denial, disbelief, suppression, and emotional procrastination. Radical Acceptance, or Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA), is a stance which advocates saying “yes” to our experiences instead of resisting, burying, and denying emotional pain. In saying “yes” to the reality of our experiences, especially the negative ones, we are relieved from our emotional denials. In accepting all of life’s moments and our emotional responses as true and real, we can move forward and truly experience life openly without suppression.

Don’t Fight Reality
Fighting reality can be exhausting. Especially when you are coping with a particularly tragic life event, such as the death of a loved one, the last thing you need to add on to your difficulties is denial of reality, which will only prolong the grieving process. Instead, say “yes” and accept what is. This acceptance will bring relief from the exhaustive process of denial or delays in your emotional recovery from the traumatic event. Even with small and seemingly trivial events – like getting mad about being stuck in traffic – radical acceptance encourages you to accept the reality of the situation, acknowledge the source of your anger, and move forward in an open and healthy way.

We Can Control Suffering
Some events are simply out of your hands. In these cases, it is important to accept your emotional responses as real and valid. We do not control outside events and for the most part we do not control pain, but we can control suffering by managing our emotional responses. You do not need to enjoy or even condone your situation, but acceptance is key to the healing process.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Radical acceptance is not a skill that can be successfully executed overnight. It takes mindfulness and constant acknowledgement. Allow yourself to experience your natural emotions and agree to let yourself be vulnerable and open. In time, and with each successive positive result, you will see that this form of unconditional self-acceptance allows you to centre yourself and better orient yourself emotionally. It will not happen immediately, but in time you will train yourself to enjoy the wide open world of “yes” and the relaxation and relief it carries.

Radical Acceptance gives you the tools to accept your sadness, fear, doubt, anger, and pain, as well as positive emotions. Give your emotions the space and freedom to express themselves fully and experience the openness and relaxation by freeing yourself from emotional denial and avoidance.