Radical Acceptance

The last few months have been rough and let’s be honest, that’s putting it lightly. Restrictions, loss of control and freedom being placed on our everyday lives, even more so…loss of jobs, loss of physical interaction, and the very real fear of the loss of our sanity. Not only that, but the roller coaster of emotion has been running in high gear. Up and down, side to side, over and under…an emotional whip lash that can leave anyone absolutely exhausted.

Disappointment, anger, panic, and sadness dominating the ride. Let’s not forget guilt, it’s the tricky one. It starts berating you for feeling the aforementioned emotions, the negative emotions, you know…the “bad” emotions. “You should be grateful”,” things could be worse”, “you shouldn’t FEEL that way”. We try to stay busy, trying to avoid the tension, the uncomfortable, the pain that is building within us. Anxiety and depression settle in and then a possibility of destructive behaviors join the party. All, in the hopes of diminishing the pain, but to no avail.

Like a small child vying for the attention from a parent, pain will not let you forget it is there. Pulling on your sleeve, getting in your face, and raising its voice louder and louder until you finally have to surrender and give it your undivided attention. Acknowledgment and ultimately the acceptance that it’s right in front of you, is the quickest way to quiet the chaos and solve the issue at hand.

Acceptance, radical acceptance is the key.

What is radical acceptance? Radical acceptance is accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. It’s the concept of saying yes to life exactly how it is.

Let’s be clear, acceptance does not mean agreeance. Acceptance is just acknowledgment of how things are. If we can acknowledge the reality of how things are, then it allows us to be honest with how we feel. “I’m in this situation and I don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable and I’m angry about it. But it is what it is. I can’t change it and I can’t control it, but I can change… and I can control…” and suddenly, in a moment, the tension can be lifted. It’s possible that for a moment or even long term the pain is diminished and the suffering is no more. We may not be able to control the pain, but we do have the power to control the suffering that is attached to it. Radical acceptance allows you an opportunity to shift perspective, gives you space to heal and time to move on. Accepting and acknowledging the negative emotions will in turn increase opportunity and open up opportunities to experience the positive emotions including happiness, excitement and even joy more fully.

Radical acceptance is a skill that will require practice. The ability to accept difficult experiences and situations in life is a valuable asset to have as it gives us the power to create and live a more content life, no matter what extenuating circumstances we might find ourselves in. When radical acceptance is practiced, not only do have the ability to see things as they really are, but we also can understand, honor and then give value to the emotions we may be currently experiencing.

Life is a gift. A beautiful, yet at times a messy gift. Life is about the whole experience, all of them. Joyful or heartbreaking, beautiful or ugly, graceful or messy. We need them all, the experiences and the emotions. We need them all to truly be able to master accepting life on life’s terms and saying yes to what is.

Tami Harris, CLC, LMT

Tami specializes in coaching those who have gone or are currently going through major life transitions or are looking to add purpose and meaning to their life. She provides support and tools to assist them in the process.

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