December 27, 2022

WTF is Radical Acceptance?

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How leaning all the way into reality can lead you away from pain and toward a greater sense of peace.

Let’s be real: sometimes, life just sucks

The dog chewed through your new pillow, your kids aren’t listening—again, for the 100th time—and your boss is being an unreasonable jerk about that project deadline. 

Not to mention all the traffic, that slow person in line ahead of you, and all the little complaints that build up to big frustrations at the end of the day.

In these cases, practicing this thing called Radical Acceptance might just keep you from wanting to bite off the head of the next person who looks at you funny.

“WTF is Radical Acceptance,” You Say?

Radical Acceptance is a skill from Dialectical and Behavioral Therapy, and it means acknowledging and accepting difficult situations and emotions exactly as they are. That means not ignoring problems, not avoiding difficult emotions, and not wishing things were different than they actually are. 

Radical Acceptance means giving yourself space to acknowledge and accept that you’re going to have really difficult feelings. This includes anger, grief, anxiety, irritation, and overwhelm. 

When these emotions bubble up, using Radical Acceptance can help you get your emotions under control, give you a way to change unhelpful thinking patterns, and help you make important changes in your life.

But wait. If I “radically accept” something, doesn’t that mean I’m just giving others a free pass or that I approve of what’s going on?

Great question! The short answer is: NO! Not at all. 

Just because you accept something doesn’t mean you approve of it or that you’re giving others a free pass to act however they want. 

In fact, using Radical Acceptance can help you address problems from a reality-based perspective. 

This means that when you accept what is really happening instead of wishing it weren’t, or being upset that it is, you can then understand how you want or need things to change. 

That might mean setting boundaries with someone, leaving a situation, or using thought-reframing techniques when there is nothing you can do to change the situation.

How do I use radical acceptance?

You can start using radical acceptance into your life by allowing yourself to experience things “just as they are.” This means acknowledging that you may experience difficulties in life and knowing that there is nothing wrong with you for having big emotions. 

As a therapist in Seattle, I love helping my therapy clients learn how to use Radical Acceptance in their daily lives. I work with my clients on skills like Radical Acceptance to help them live more fully and deeply, without letting difficult experiences shut them down.

Working with a therapist can also help you understand when Radical Acceptance might not be as helpful or safe—such as in dangerous situations, unhealthy expressions of emotion (like intense rage, aggression, intimidation, etc.), or as a way to replace prescribed medications (please don’t do this without talking to your doctor or psychiatrist first!).

If you’re looking for a therapist in Seattle who can help you with anxiety, depression, life transitions, and radical acceptance, I would love to hear from you. Call me or email to schedule a consultation today

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