Radical Acceptance

This skill focuses on accepting things in life we may not be able to change. Oftentimes, we have the experience of not accepting the reality we are in. Sometimes that can mean feeling stuck in thoughts like “it’s not fair,” or “why me?” Radical acceptance means accepting this moment and the circumstances exactly as they are. Radical acceptance does NOT mean that you like a situation or even think it is okay.
** Linehan, M.M. (2015). DBT skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
While it is normal to want to reject reality, doing so doesn’t actually change the situation. In fact, rejecting the reality of the situation turns pain into suffering. Accepting reality can bring freedom.

pain + non-acceptance = suffering

We want to share an example to bring this concept to life: Monica was very much looking forward to a school dance, but it was the same weekend as an important family obligation out of town. Monica knew it was important to her family that she attend. Monica went through a range of emotions when she realized the dates conflicted. She cried, she became angry at her family, she thought “why do these things always happen to me?” Monica was miserable. After a few long and hard hours, Monica decided to radically accept the situation. The situation was still not ideal and Monica accepted there was nothing she could do to change it. Instead, Monica was able to FaceTime with her friends for a bit before the dance, and she also made plans for a fun sleepover with some of them the following weekend. Although this situation was really hard for Monica, accepting the situation for what it was allowed her to be able to appreciate the time with her family during the weekend, rather than being irritable or moping around that weekend, and she was also able to find a way to have a different kind of fun with her friends at another time.

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This is a skill set comprised of seven distraction strategies that can be remembered through the acronym ACCEPTS.

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