Radical acceptance


Radical acceptance or accepting reality was one of the first DBT skills that Penelope introduced to me. It is also the one that hasn’t seemed to come very easily, while it remains the one I think about most frequently. However I was greatly helped in this by reading a post from http://www.beautyfrompain.wordpress.com. In this post the author presents the concept of radical acceptance in the form of a formula: Pain x Resistance = Suffering. The premise is that all humans experience pain in life in whatever form. Pain is non-negotiable however our response to this pain can be controlled and managed in different ways. Resisting the pain, fighting it, arguing with it only serves to at best prolong it, at worst cause even more damage than the original pain.

I have been musing this formula for a while. Like many things, I understood the theory and the principle but wasn’t entirely sure how to apply it… What does it look like. In the past few weeks I have had glimpses of it. I have a new sat nav- brilliant inventions, however for some reason I find it very difficult to follow the instructions. Often I will turn too early or miss the turning… Many times I end up in wore pickles than if I tried to follow road signs. However, I have been trying to take deep breaths, extend compassion to myself and ‘radically accept’ my mistakes. The ‘pain’ of a wrong turning is made worse with ranting, accusations, swearing and hitting of steering wheel. Acceptance makes for a far more pleasant journey.

So I’ve been making improvements. However, this week I think I had a triumph! I have a nasty auto-immune disease that attacks my eye. On Monday I awoke to experience intense pain and poor eyesight- it had returned and with vengeance. My instinctive reaction was to spiral downwards- to fall into self-pity and frustration. Despair was also lurking at the door… I’ve only just started mentally feeling better… I’ve only just gone back to work… This is so typical of me etc… But this time I used radical acceptance. I don’t like this eye disease it is painful, inconvenient and means I have to put large amounts of cataract inducing steroids into my eyes. I don’t approve of it, but I do accept this is the way things are at the moment.

Let me tell you, it has made for an easier ride this week. My situation hasn’t changed but I have. That is very encouraging to me. I can try and listen to what my body is trying to tell me. I can get in touch with my emotional pain but I don’t have to let it drown me. I like this radical acceptance stuff!

Thanks for listening.


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