Let’s talk more about Radical Acceptance.
Radical Acceptance is a technique used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. In the shortest definition, radical acceptance is about identifying what you can and cannot change while accepting your reality as it is. This doesn’t mean that you are complacent, or a push over. This means that you don’t add time, energy and emotion to situations you cannot change.
-What does practicing radical acceptance look like around the holidays? How about some examples?
-Your sister-in-law was supposed to bring the green bean casserole, but she brought mashed potatoes instead. Now there are two potatoes dishes and no green beans!!
-You’ve been dropping hints to your significant other for months that you really want that new necklace from your favorite jewelry store. When you open your gifts, it’s no-where to be found.
-You’re on your way to a relatives’ house. It’s snowing, traffic is horrible. You know you’re going to be late. You are pissed your family wasn’t on time to leave and you’re worried your mother-in-law will give you crap for it.
How do you handle these situations? I’d love to hear any similar situations and how you handled them with radical acceptance.
Applying radical acceptance to these situations can look like taking a mindful break in order to identify your feelings. Next, establish the elements in your present situation that are within your control. Once you have completed this, begin to map out your escape plan. No, this is not a literal escape plan, like crawling down a fire escape or hopping in your car and driving home – as tempting as that may seem. Your escape plan is how you plan to leave behind your suffering feelings. The feelings and thoughts that tell you “how did you let this happen“, “what will people think” and “why did this happen to me” All of these damaging questions that you ask yourself create feelings that cause suffering.
You can’t change the situation you are in, but you can change the way you feel or react to the situation. Some situations are just crappy. You can’t necessarily escape from those crappy feelings, but you can escape the suffering that happens when your expectations are in contrast with your reality. Many times in these situations, we have a tendency to cling to our expectations despite the situations we find ourselves in. This inability to change our expectations to meet the reality of our situation only further highlights the “unfair” bits of the situation.
So, before your next holiday family party, take a moment to think about previous holiday seasons and what you know about your family. Use this reflection to preemptively prepare yourself for points of contention. How can you apply radical acceptance to those situations? Then you can start to radically enjoy your holidays with your family.
Thanks for reading!
For Part 1: click here
For Part 3: click here