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  • Eve Coker, PhD, LCMHC

The Art of Radical Acceptance

There's a modality of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. It's been described as a combination of mindfulness and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) distilled into practical steps and practices.


One of those practices is called Radical Acceptance, and it's incredibly powerful. It's this idea that we can accept what has happened or the reality placed upon us so that we don't get swept up in feelings of how things are so unfair and uncontrollable, which can leave us to feel overwhelmed and maybe even sorry for ourselves. It's not about approving of the situation, but it's about accepting it so that we can figure out how we want to cope with it or change it.


"It is what it is." Life is a very chaotic, strange thing sometimes, and both good and bad things can happen unexpectedly. The funny thing is that we sometimes find the law of attraction coming into play here, as well as self-fulfilling prophecies. We attract what we seek, and we become what we think/say we will become.


Per Dr. Linehan, here are the 10 steps to practicing Radical Acceptance (taken from 10 Steps of Radical Acceptance | HopeWay)

  1. Observe that you are questioning or fighting reality (“it shouldn’t be this way”)

  2. Remind yourself that the unpleasant reality is just as it is and cannot be changed (“this is what happened”)

  3. Remind yourself that there are causes for the reality (“this is how things happened”)

  4. Practice accepting with your whole self (mind, body, spirit) - Use accepting self-talk, relaxation techniques, mindfulness and/or imagery

  5. List all of the behaviors you would engage in if you did accept the facts and then engage in those behaviors as if you have already accepted the facts

  6. Imagine, in your mind’s eye, believing what you do not want to accept and rehearse in your mind what you would do if you accepted what seems unacceptable

  7. Attend to body sensations as you think about what you need to accept

  8. Allow disappointment, sadness or grief to arise within you

  9. Acknowledge that life can be worth living even when there is pain

  10. Do pros and cons if you find yourself resisting practicing acceptance



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