Sometimes when we feel pain or sadness, our initial reaction is to get upset and blame the situation or person. However, this prevents us from realizing what is happening and taking the necessary steps to change the situation. If we react too quickly with anger or sadness it usually makes the situation worse and we have to deal with the consequences.
Radical acceptance is a concept that helps us to improve our coping mechanisms. So, why is radical acceptance so important? When we have overwhelming emotions caused by a painful experience, we have a tendency to be critical and judgemental. However, this makes us avoid being objective and prevents us from evaluating the situation. Radical acceptance enables us to acknowledge what has actually happened, accept the truth, take action and come up with a solution… So, it basically comes down to accepting the things that you have no control over.
To help you to understand the technique, imagine you are a manager in a business and you have a major financial loss. If you predominantly focus on your anger and sadness this might lead to aggressive behavior. For example, you might get angry at your employees and make them feel guilty about the situation, which could ultimately affect their motivation to work. This reaction might cause feelings of regret. To avoid this kind of situation you could try to radically accept the situation and take time to think about and evaluate why this financial situation arose – you can then take the necessary precautions to avoid this happening in the future.
We can use the radical acceptance technique for almost every negative situation that occurs in our lives such as divorce, break-ups, trauma, arguments or even something as simple as getting stuck in traffic etc.
Here are some coping statements to think about when applying radical acceptance to our lives
– “I can’t change what’s already happened.”
– “It’s a waste of time to fight about what’s already happened.”
– “The present is the only moment I have control over.”
– “The present moment is perfect, even if I don’t like what’s happening.”
– “This is the way it has to be.”
In addition to coping statements, you can also use a distraction plan to distract yourself from painful emotions. For example, you can enjoy pleasurable activities such as exercising, listening to music, going for a walk etc. You can even try paying attention to someone else; this will help you to take the attention off yourself.