By Lisa Caplan

Have you ever been stuck in traffic and looked over and the person next to you is clutching their steering wheel, yelling and screaming? Or maybe you’re  throwing a fit, honking and yelling? There are a lot of situations in life, some annoying and others painful, that we would rather not deal with but can’t control. If we resist these situations it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

Radical acceptance is a mindfulness-based skill and approach that involves fully accepting reality as it is, without judgment, resistance, or avoidance, even if it’s not what we would like it to be. This concept is often associated with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a type of therapy that combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices.  Radical acceptance is a powerful technique for reducing stress and increasing emotional well-being. Here are some tips on how to reduce stress using radical acceptance:

  1. Recognize the reality of the situation and acknowledge the emotions that come with it.  This may include feelings of fear, frustration, anger, or sadness. By acknowledging your emotions, you can begin to address them in a productive way. Instead of trying to fight or deny your feelings, accept them and understand that they are a natural response to what you’re going through.
  2. Identify what you can and cannot change.  Once you have acknowledged your emotions, identify the things that are within your control and those that are not. Focus on what you can change and accept what you cannot change.
  3. Practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would a friend who is going through a tough time.
  4. Practice mindfulness and stay in the moment. Try not to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Doing so can increase depression and anxiety.  Use mindfulness techniques, grounding techniques, deep breathing, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to stay centered and focused. A grounding technique could be focusing on three things you can hear, see and feel.
  5. Let go of expectations or attachments to specific outcomes. Accept that things may not always turn out the way you want them to, and that’s okay.
  6. Resistance occurs when we try to push away or avoid unpleasant thoughts or feelings. This can increase stress and make it harder to cope. By identifying areas of resistance, you can begin to practice radical acceptance.
  7. Radical acceptance involves acknowledging that we are all imperfect and that life is full of ups and downs. By embracing imperfection, you can let go of the need for control and reduce stress.

We don’t need to roll over and be helpless.  Rather, we acknowledge that denying the facts of reality will not change the facts, but keeps us stuck in thoughts such as “why me?”, “this is so unfair”,  and “why now?”.  Reach out for assistance to learn more about radical acceptance.


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