What radical acceptance really means

What is radical acceptance?

Radical acceptance means practicing a conscious effort to acknowledge and honour difficult situations and emotions. Fully accepting things as they are, instead of ignoring, avoiding or wishing the situation were different, can be a critical step in moving past a difficult experience.
Everyone has bad days and difficulties are inevitable but the one thing you can steer is your mindset. Accepting reality as it is can move you toward contentment.

Myths about radical acceptance

• Radical acceptance means you approve of the situation - instead, accepting a situation does not mean that it has your approval or that you necessarily found it acceptable for your life
• Radical acceptance is giving up - to some, radical acceptance may sound like sitting back and giving up. But acceptance does not equal complacency, it is about taking a compassionate, non-judgemental approach to your situation

When to use radical acceptance

As long as stress, sadness, frustration and grief exist, there will be everyday opportunities to practise radical acceptance. Radical acceptance can improve your overall quality of life. Other areas where radical acceptance can be helpful include:
• Coping with a divorce
• Coping with the death of a loved one
• As an anger management tool
• After the loss of a job
• Preventing rumination
• Improving your sense of self-worth

When radical acceptance is unhelpful

• Medication - acceptance is not a replacement for any medication you have been prescribed
• Abuse - acceptance can help manage intense emotions related to surviving abuse but it is not helpful while you are actively being abused
• Avoidance - using acceptance to avoid addressing a situation you have the power to change is not helpful
• Excusing unhealthy behaviours - accepting unhealthy behaviours is not an excuse to act in an unhealthy way

Acceptance doesn't happen on its own

Radical acceptance doesn't just happen on its own. It's a habitual, conscious effort to change how you interact with your emotions and adverse situations. Learning to practise radical acceptance might not be easy at first. When life throws you curveballs, it can be tempting to ask, ‘Why me?'. But accepting your reality is often the first way to effectively manage hard situations.

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