Sometimes when people try to change the attitude or behaviors of others, they often find themselves in a power struggle. When a loved one is struggling with overwhelming emotions, this can lead to dangerous situations. While acceptance of the limitations of your control over others may be helpful to your emotional state, it can also feel like you are giving up or approving of choices, attitudes or behaviors that you don’t agree with.
Radical Acceptance (a concept used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy) means fully and completely accepting reality as it is and acknowledging that often things are beyond our control. The idea behind acceptance is that it helps reduce emotional suffering while increasing effective problem-solving.
Acceptance is not a passive way of giving up, ironically, it’s a way to move forward.
It’s not always easy to accept those things that you disagree with or that are not what you expected. If things do not go how you want them to, it can be very easy to focus all of your attention on how unfair reality is. However, if you accept that there is no choice in the situation you are dealing with, you can strategize on how you can handle it or make alternative arrangements. Not accepting leads to more suffering or feeling ‘stuck’ – acceptance allows you to move on.
A Willing Attitude
Acceptance requires a turning of your mind toward a Willing attitude as opposed to a Willful one. This is done through (a) being aware of how your body feels, (b) being aware of your thoughts, and (c) relaxing your body to enable new information and new awareness to enter your consciousness.
Some strategies to promote acceptance include speaking or writing down the aspect of reality that you’re having trouble with, looking at the consequences of accepting this reality (both the negative and the positive), and allowing yourself to mourn the reality that you hoped for. If you are feeling stuck, try to assess what you might not be accepting. Allow yourself to think about a different reality. Experience your disappointments and anger and then allow yourself to move forward into a new reality.
Radical Acceptance is a topic incorporated in the DBT group provided at Specialized Therapy Associates. Should you have any interest in this group, please call 201-488-6678 for details.