Self Help

How Radical Acceptance can make life easier to live


We all have bad days, don’t we? Days when you think God is out there testing your patience. Like when you have just broken up with your partner, lost a job, failed an exam etc. these are all difficult situations for us, and to deal with this usually we bargain, complain, and cling to the hope of a miracle to make everything alright and find reasons to avoid feeling and accepting the emotions.

Radical Acceptance:

Radical acceptance is something that will help you in this situation. It is quite a simple phenomenon. It means acknowledging, accepting, and embracing difficult situations, feeling the emotions associated with them and moving forward. So, if you break up with your partner, radical acceptance will be accepting the reality of the breakup without denying or changing it. Instead of clinging to the hope for reconciliation and dwelling on the unfairness of the situation, the person practising radical acceptance will fully embrace the reality of the end of a relationship, and allow themselves to feel the pain and sadness that comes with it without judgement. And eventually, move forward with their life while learning and growing from the experience.

Read More: Self-Punishment and Self-Love

We have all heard of the saying that ‘pain is inevitable, and suffering is optional.’ The message that this quote conveys is that pain is an inevitable part of life and suffering comes from not accepting the pain. When reality is painful, we try to avoid it, push it down or fight against which is the cause of suffering. But when you accept the pain, without fighting it, it will reduce the suffering. Here we are talking about the pain that is inevitable or situations that are not changeable. Accepting them does not mean giving up or approving of the pain. It just means we become compassionate with ourselves and our emotions, and accept and acknowledge that the situation is not in our control and cannot be changed.

Read More: The Psychology of Self-Perception

Radical Acceptance in DBT

Radical acceptance is an essential skill taught in dialectical behavioural therapy or DBT. DBT is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy, that aims to teach individuals to better regulate emotions, tolerate distress, improve interpersonal effectiveness, and increase mindfulness. It emphasizes balancing change and acceptance. It encourages individuals to accept themselves and their circumstances while also making positive changes in their lives. Difficult situations trigger difficult extreme emotions, and it is all right as we are humans and our ability to feel emotions makes us what we are.

Read More: Dialectical Behaviour Therapy’s Role in Mental Wellness

Radical Acceptance in Daily Life

Radical acceptance is a skill that may help you to cope better with difficult circumstances and make your life easier. For example, you and your friends planned to go hiking on Sunday. Everything is pre-planned and everyone is excited. But suddenly on Sunday, it starts to rain heavily and now you cannot go for hiking. In this situation, it is very natural to become angry and frustrated. If you practice radical acceptance here, it will look like, “Looks like this hike is not happening. It is so disappointing and frustrating. But we cannot do anything about it. So instead of sulking let’s plan something indoor which we can enjoy.”

Hence, instead of spoiling our Sunday by being irritated and frustrated we can change plans and enjoy our day. It is hard to practice radical acceptance when things get tough, but we should put conscious intentional effort to continue practicing it. It will not happen in one day, when you keep practising it, it will become habitual and come naturally to you. This will make it easier for you to cope with difficult situations you encounter and help with emotion regulation. Practising radical acceptance can help to make our lives easier in several ways:

  • It reduces Stress and Anxiety. When you accept the situation as it is, you stop wasting your energy changing or fighting it, which helps
    in reducing anxiety and stress.
  • It improves Emotional Regulation. When you accept and acknowledge your emotions and experience them without judgment, you develop healthier ways of regulating them.
  • Accepting reality for what it is, doesn’t mean giving up it frees up the energy you put into finding practical solutions to it. The mental clarity that comes after, helps in fostering creative solutions and finding ways to better the situation.
  • Radical acceptance also helps you form a better and more authentic close relationship. As you accept the other person as they are, without trying to change or control them, you make a relationship based on understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
  • You become more resilient in the face of adversity as instead of becoming overwhelmed with setbacks and failure, you learn to adapt and change your goals.

How to Practice Radical Acceptance:

You can practice radical acceptance in daily life by,

  • Acknowledging the present: we must start by being mindful of the present situation in a non-judgmental way.
  • Can you control the situation: if you are not in control of what is happening you cannot do anything about it. Accepting this might be difficult but also frees you from the stress of fighting against it.
  • Breathe: it might be a very simple technique but is very effective. Whenever you are stressed and anxious your body gets tense in parts like the shoulders, face, or stomach. Breathing is a relaxation technique that brings you back to the present.
  • Practice using radical coping statements: practice using statements like ‘I have no control over what is happening’, ‘this situation is temporary, and it shall pass’, ‘I am letting go of negative emotions’ etc.
  • You cannot change the past: Remind yourself that you cannot change the past and whatever good or bad happened is over. Now you can focus on how to improve the present.

Radical acceptance helps in coping with painful situations by accepting the pain and experiencing it without resisting and fighting it. And instead of reacting, choose to respond in an adaptable and constructive manner. Practising radical acceptance in our lives makes it easier and more fulfilling by letting go of unnecessary suffering, focusing on what truly matters and approaching challenges with a sense of openness and resilience.

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