When you practice radical acceptance, it does not mean that you stop working on things you want to change. It’s not about passivity. But the only way to work effectively towards change is by fully and completely accepting what is. Radical acceptance is saying that whatever bad things happened to me are ok.
Here is how you can practise radical acceptance step by step :
- Observe that you are questioning or fighting reality (“It shouldn’t be this way”).
- Remind yourself that the unpleasant reality is just as it is and cannot be changed (“This is what happened”).
- Remind yourself that there are causes for the reality. Acknowledge that’s one sort of history led up to this very moment. Consider how people’s lives have been shaped by a series of factors. Notice that given these causal factors and how history led up to this moment, this reality had to occur just this way (“This is how things happened”).
- Practice accepting with the whole self (mind, body and spirit). Be creative in finding ways to involve your whole self. Use accepting self talk but also consider using relaxation; mindfulness of your breath; hand smiling and willing hands while thinking about what feels unacceptable; prayer; going to a place that helps bring you to acceptance; or imagery.
- Practice opposite action. List all the behaviours you would do if you did accept the facts. Then act as if you have already accepted the facts. Engage in the behaviours that you would do if you really had accepted.
- Cope ahead with events that seem unacceptable. Imagine (in your mind’s eye) believing what you don’t want to accept. Rehearse in your mind what you would do if you accepted what seems unacceptable.
- Attend to body sensations as you think about what you need to accept.
- Allow disappointment, sadness, or grief to arise within you.
- Acknowledge that life can be worth living even when there is pain.
- Do pros and cons if you find yourself resisting practising acceptance.
Far from condoning or embracing what you are and what you are going through, radical acceptance advocates simply accepting yourself and your circumstances in order to better move through and past them.