Who is having a hard time accepting their current reality? I know I have days where I think, on a loop, “I can’t do this, I have to get out of the house, this is never going to end.” Acceptance is hard work, especially now. But my reminder to you and to me is that the suffering we feel when we are fighting reality is far worse than when we accept it.
…seeing this moment for what it is
…just the facts, no judgments about the moment (or the past)
Acceptance Is Not
…resistance to change
…liking your reality
Acceptance Helps Us:
- Validate – When you stop fighting your reality, you are able to validate your emotions. It makes total sense that you’re feeling sad, scared, and disappointed right now. You are grieving the Spring, Summer, and 2020 you thought you’d have. When practicing acceptance you will likely experience deep sadness, yet great relief will follow.
- Connect – When you stop fighting your reality, you are able to recognize that this is a collective trauma. Radical Acceptance can connect us in the pain and help us to validate each other — to say, “I see you,” “I feel you,” “I have been there too.”
- Create Change – Pain without acceptance keeps us in suffering. Pain with acceptance is ordinary pain, but gives us the possibility to move forward and create change. Consider our leadership – the story that was told in February and even into March was “It’s not that bad, it’s just like the flu, everything is fine.” This denial of reality kept us our nation from rallying together to provide testing and PPE, and kept Americans on the streets and gathering with friends, believing “it’s not that bad.” Leadership practicing radical acceptance would have honored the reality of COVID-19, the danger and threat, and then changed the plan of attack – radical acceptance in February may have saved thousands of lives.
Radical Acceptance Step by Step:
1. Observe (but do not judge) that you are questioning or fighting reality (“It shouldn’t be this way,” “I can’t do this,” “This isn’t fair.” I shouldn’t feel sad when others have it much worse than me.”).
2. Remind yourself that your present reality is what it is and cannot be changed (fighting against the reality of COVID-19 does not make it go away, fighting against the reality that you lost your job doesn’t change the truth).
3. Remind yourself that there are causes for reality. Acknowledge that some sort of history led up to this very moment. Given these causal factors and history, this is our current reality (“This is how things happened,” “This is how we got here.”)
4. Practice accepting with your whole self (mind, body, and spirit). Be creative in finding ways to involve your whole self in your acceptance practice. Use accepting self-talk – “This is what happened.” “This is how this happened.” “This is what it is, even if there is pain.” Consider using relaxation, mindfulness of your breath, practice willing hands (rest your hands on your lap with palms up) while you think about what feels unacceptable. Utilize imagery by imagining yourself accepting the unacceptable.
5. List all the behaviors you would do if you did accept the facts. Then act as if you have already accepted those facts, engaging in behaviors you would do if you already had accepted.
6. Acknowledge and attend to your body sensations as you think about what you need to accept. Notice tension in your neck or jaw, a knot in your throat, nausea in your stomach, etc.
7. Allow disappointment, sadness, or grief to arise within you. Ride the wave of emotion – do not push it away. Observe the emotion, name it, honor it, respect it, and let it fade away.
8. Acknowledge that life can be worth living even when there is pain.
This is hard work and requires a great deal of practice. For today, try and notice when you are fighting reality. What thoughts come up? What does it feel like in your body? What does your body language look like? Tomorrow, try going through this step by step. You can do this hard work; you can BE.WHOLE.
Thank you for reading,
Information was adapted from **DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan