For many, each new year is an opportunity to embark on self-improvement, whether it’s being more organized, losing weight, spending less money or altering drinking habits. In addition to these goals, consider adding radical acceptance to your list. By learning new behaviors that lead to increased feelings of gratitude, mindfulness and less anger over the small stuff, this practice can go a long way toward making 2020 a happier and more joyous year.
Radical acceptance is a technique and practice associated with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). At the heart of radical acceptance is the ability to accept a difficult reality, rather than fight against it. Research shows that we cause ourselves more emotional pain and suffering when we rail against situations and people that are beyond our control. Still, all pain can’t be avoided.
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While radical acceptance suggests letting go somewhat, it doesn’t support the notion that a difficult reality or relationship is OK, including situations or relationships that are hurtful and destructive. Rather, radical acceptance is about acknowledging your reality so you can marshal your psychological and emotional resources to move forward and heal. By accepting such things in our lives we can’t change, we ultimately find more gratitude, peace and contentment. Here are four ways to practice radical acceptance in everyday life:
1. Identify the thoughts and behaviors that signal you’re fighting against reality.
Many people noticing they feel angrier, bitter and irritated when they catch themselves fighting against reality, making it an easier tell.
2. Have a more balanced understanding of your reality.
Too many times our emotions get in the way of us being able to skillfully and effectively interpret our reality, causing us to distort things. Learn how to report the facts about upsetting events before taking action so you can implement effective ways to cope.
3. Practice opposite action.
List all the behaviors you would do if you did accept the facts of your reality, then act as if you have already accepted the facts. For example, accepting the reality of a partner’s lacking, such as the inability to be as emotionally supportive as you would like, might lead you to be less critical of your partner to friends or other family members that can provide support.
4. Practice everyday acceptance.
Think of everyday hassles, inconveniences and minor problems as opportunities to practice acceptance. Getting into the habit of saying things like “This is what life is like” and “Everyone feels this way at sometime or another” can make a big difference in the way you feel and cope with life’s inevitable bumps.