Acceptance is based on the philosophy that each moment is complete by itself, and that the world is perfect as it is.
Marsha Linehan thought this was the element that was missing in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and developed the learnings from Zen philosophy to help create Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. She refers to radical acceptance to communicate that this mindfulness is “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them. It is the intentional process of observing, describing, and participating in reality non-judgmentally, in the moment, and with effectiveness.
The prime dissatisfaction for many of us is the sense that we are unworthy according to Tara Brach, PhD. We aren’t enough, we don’t do enough, we don’t have enough. We live in a trance of unworthiness. It’s a trance because the pain of KNOWING the unworthy feelings is rather deep. So we keep really busy, so there’s no time to sit and know. We embark on self-improvement projects to try to be good enough. We avoid risks to avoid more pain. We withdraw from knowing our current experience. We become self-critics. And like most self critics, we also become critical of others. The trance of unworthiness involves being in close touch with a self that’s fearful, wanting, feeling alone and separate. The self caught in desire, aversion , delusion. It means losing sight of the self who’s connected, whole, in the ‘fullness of being.’ When we practice radical acceptance, we connect we this self and our reality.
There are three parts to radical acceptance.
1. Accept that reality is what it is.
2. Accept that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause.
3. Accept that life can be worth living even with painful events in it.
“When we learn to face and feel the fear and shame we habitually avoid, we begin to awaken from the trance.”
"Radical Acceptance: Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame" by Tara Brach. This short book (just over 220 pages) explains the two wings of radical acceptance: Mindfulness (seeing clearly) and Compassion. Brach comments: “We can’t honestly accept an experience unless we see clearly what we are accepting” and that "Compassion makes our acceptance wholehearted and complete". The book can be ordered direct from her website. Avoid trying to download it as a PDF for free, it could expose you to IT security risk.
Dr Russ Harris presents a short video on how acceptance can help with internal struggles about our thoughts and feelings using the ‘chessboard metaphor’. Dr Harris works with ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) as a way to achieve happiness. This short video of two and a half minutes, gives us a way to understand our internal struggles.
In this guided meditation, Dr Tara Brach takes us through the steps of R.A.I.N.
Recognize what is happening;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion.
In this life, pain cannot be avoided. It is nature’s way of signalling something is wrong. Rejecting reality turns pain into suffering. When we cannot accept pain, we create suffering. Radical acceptance turns unbearable suffering into bearable pain. But first we have to accept reality.
This short video explores what we can do to begin to practice radical acceptance. There are eight handy skills to add to our tool box.