It is what it is. Radical Acceptance. Full Stop

When you search on the internet about acceptance, what you will most likely find is how peaceful you’ll feel once you accept reality. What most posts fail to achieve and may lead you to disappointment at first, is the fact that they don’t tell you how to reach radical acceptance.

When I was first introduced to the concept of radical acceptance, I remember writing in my notebook that my initial first reaction to it was something along the lines of “I feel awkward because radically accepting everything will make me naive rather than peaceful.” The response to that was “There’s a time when to accept a situation. When there’s nothing you can change or by changing the situation the possible consequences may be more negative than positive, then, the next best solution is to radically accept the situation.”

So the next question is what is radical acceptance and how can it be achieved? According to Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), radical means total, and acceptance is achieved when you’re not fighting the situation. Practically, what does that look like? Accepting a situation means taking all the factual elements and removing what you personally believe about the situation. The second step is, to be honest with yourself. In other words, admit how it made you feel and if it’s worth feeling that way (i.e., how does it serve you?) 

After you’ve decided that feeling painfully and sad for such a long period can cause suffering, you may move to the third step. Here, you mentally place the event in the past (for example, using narrative therapy, you will retell your story using the past tense). Be sure that you leave some space for the future to live a life worth living, even with some painful events in it. 

Acceptance is often mistaken for ignorance. Some people believe that radically accepting a situation is to ignore your feelings and distract your thoughts. That may be one of the worst recipes someone can use. Ignoring a situation that causes pain will perpetuate the situation by piling up unwanted feelings, propelling to unwanted venting (e.g., depression, anxiety, aggression). Accepting a situation is recognizing what happened and mitigating its impact. 

Letting go by accepting the situation acts like muscle memory. The more you practice it, the easier it gets and the stronger you feel. In psychology, acceptance is usually used in the Kübler-Ross model of stages of grief. Studying the model, you will understand that those stages are not necessarily linear. You may go back and forth until you reach acceptance which is the goal. In other words, it may take time, energy, and patience not to give up and be stubborn at reaching your goal. Nonetheless, you may ask, is it worth it? Personally, I believe it is. Learning to let go, allows you to experience life to the fullest, without the fear to live.