Radical acceptance is a concept from psychologist Marsha Linehan but it is something I find helpful for general mental health and certainly for dealing with those we love, those we love who make us crazy.
“freedom from suffering requires ACCEPTANCE from deep within of what is. Let yourself go completely with what is. Let go of fighting reality. ACCEPTANCE is the only way out of hell. Pain creates suffering only when you refuse to ACCEPT the pain. Deciding to tolerate the moment is ACCEPTANCE. ACCEPTANCE is acknowledging what is. To ACCEPT something is not the same as judging it good.”
One of the things I love best about being in my mid-40s is that I am much more aware of how life is, rather than how life should be. How I am, rather than how I should be. And certainly how others are more than how they should be. People are human. They are fallible, they are troubled, they procrastinate, they say one thing and mean another, they forget, they are late, they don’t see things my way, they can’t see their own issues, they judge, they sweat the small stuff. This seems to be the human condition. If you can only love perfect humans, or accept your own perfect self, you sentence yourself to a life of disatisfaction and pain.
Linehan’s work grew out of a lot of experience working with victims of abuse. Acceptance is not about judging. Of course their are behaviors that are not healthy and if someone in your life is making choices you do not have to support those choices but accepting that those are their choices to make actually allows you to make your own, empowered choices.
Radical acceptance is an exericise. It requires practice. If you are can learn to identify your own resistance, your own suffering than it becomes easier to breath into acceptance. As you practice, you learn how to empower yourself with acceptance.
This week– Consider those things that you hate about yourself, about your spouse or about your marriage. Face the facts. Look at the truth without passing judgement, just acknowledging what is. What about your spouse are you having a hard time accepting? How much energy do you spend resisting it? What about yourself could you accept as true so that you are more open to accepting those around you? What if this is exactly how life is and all we can do is move forward from here? What are you afraid will happen if you practice acceptance? How can accepting what is true in life be dangerous and how can it be freeing?