Radical Acceptance

When in distress or dealing with high emotions, it can be difficult to accept what is happening. Radical acceptance is complete acceptance of reality and what is happening – it lets you stop fighting with reality and helps you respond better to the distress. Radical acceptance is NOT giving up or giving in, and it is not tolerance. True radical acceptance is opening yourself up to experience the moment.

Radical acceptance can be hard to practice. In the moment, we’re often angry, bitter, or anxious. But with radical acceptance, we can come to peace with the full experience and the facts of reality. How can you practice radical acceptance?

  1. Try to limit exaggerations about reality. For example, thinking, “This professor has hated me since the first day of the quarter” is likely not a fact.
  2. Recognize when you are catastrophizing. For example, believing you’re a bad student if you do poorly on one test. This is likely catastrophizing.
  3. Avoid judgmental assertions. For example saying “I”m bad at this” is judgmental, and can be harmful.

Radical acceptance takes time – but if you can limit your exaggerations, catastrophizing, and judgmental assertions during times of distress, you can check what is actually happening in reality. Overall, trying to separate your emotions from your thoughts can help in practicing radical acceptance. When in distress, stepping back and checking what is actually happening can be incredibly beneficial in helping you decide what to do next. Finally, be patient with yourself when trying to practice new skills – radically accept that distress tolerance skills take time to master!

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