Take a moment to think about something in your life that didn’t go as planned. Maybe you advocated for yourself, but still received an outcome that felt unfair. Or you lost someone or something very important and are in the process of grieving. Often it feels like life’s throwing every possible challenge our way, and we become overwhelmed and exhausted.
We all know that pain is an inevitable part of life, but we don’t have to accept the suffering that comes with it. It is commonly explained that pain + nonacceptance = suffering. To reduce or avoid suffering, we are asked to find acceptance of the situation, our emotions, and/or ourselves. Acceptance does not mean agreeing with what happened or shoving away the memories and emotions (because they will likely come back up anyway!). Instead, acceptance means sitting with the current moment and radically accepting “what is.”
Radical acceptance is something you can practice over and over and over. Physically, it could look like sitting down to a meditation with your palms up toward the sky and a gentle smile on your face. Mind follows body, and this posture indicates an openness and acceptance of the here and now. Mentally, it could mean repeating a mantra or phrase like, “I cannot change this situation, it is what it is, and this feeling will pass with time.” Spiritually, it could mean feeling a sense of acceptance wash over you completely, and choosing to accept with your whole being.
Just like mindfulness, new hobbies, and changing thought patterns, radical acceptance takes practice and is something we will need to return to frequently. When you notice yourself feeling stuck, stubborn, or upset about something that’s out of your control, gently remind yourself to practice radical acceptance. As highlighted by Tara Brach in this two-minute video, acceptance is an important first step to change:
Hall, K. (2012). Radical Acceptance. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201207/radical-acceptance.
Rollin, J. (2017). The Importance of Practicing ‘Radical Acceptance.’ Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-importance-of-practicing-radical-acceptance_b_592da801e4b0a7b7b469cd99.