One of the many options an individual has to deal with a problem is to practice a strategy known as “radical acceptance.” Radical acceptance, a key element in behavioral therapy, requires a person to accept life’s terms and not resist things that one cannot or will not change. Regarding addiction, this includes acknowledging the fact that one is an addict, not in control, and all that this involves.
As an analogy, we can compare this concept to not continuing to fruitlessly struggle against the current instead of choosing to move along with the natural flow. It is making a conscious effort to accept reality instead of fighting against it. While it may seem daunting, the practice of radical acceptance permits us to own and endure circumstances in our lives, even when they aren’t what we want.
What makes this acceptance “radical”? Each day, we must practice “normal” acceptance, such as being stuck in a traffic jam or having to work late. These moments, although potentially frustrating, will all pass, and may do so rapidly. But some things occur in our lives that are permanent and do not pass quickly. Sometimes such things require us to take a leap of faith and come to an extraordinary amount of acceptance.
Moreover, radical acceptance is about diving in headfirst, with one’s body, mind, and spirit, into unknown territory. It’s a process that can help people come to terms with many events they have experienced, such as trauma or abuse, character flaws, addictions, and any number of things that we cannot or will not change.
In life, most of us try to do our best to change directions in ways we deem beneficial. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t always work out for us, because there is no way in which we can fully control all the aspects of our lives, so we must search for other ways to embrace it. This can be accomplished through a new mindset that includes making acceptance the default response, and although the result may not be what we wanted, we accept it.
Benefits of Radical Acceptance
Radical Acceptance Allows Us to Let Go and Move On
It’s normal to struggle against undesirable circumstances, but we must let go of those that cannot be overcome. Sometimes the fight is too exhausting and can adversely affect a person’s life. We may have tried almost everything we can think of to correct the situation, and nothing has worked.
Eventually, it may be our best interest to admit that external factors heavily influence outcomes in our lives out of our control. Therefore, it’s time to excuse ourselves from some of the stress associated with it.
Radical Acceptance Is a Way to Adapt
Many individuals have witnessed or survived traumatic events, abuse, or suffer from physical or psycho-emotional health disorders, including addiction. Radical acceptance is a practice that can help us move on from the past and the self-defeating talk associated with it.
We must forgive ourselves and others, even if they do not forgive us. By releasing thoughts and emotions that hurt us, we allow ourselves to transform our lives and move forward freely and thoughtfully.
Radical Acceptance Lets Us Better Cope With Loss and Grief
Loss and grief come in many forms. We may mourn for the death of a loved one or broken relationship, or we may experience a general loss of what life would be if some circumstance had been different.
Dealing with grief or loss doesn’t mean we escape pain, and acceptance is necessary because when we resist reality, this only serves to prolong the suffering. Accepting reality gives us space to mourn our losses and process our feelings appropriately.
Radical Acceptance Reduces Drama and Can Improve Relationships
Radical acceptance allows us to advance beyond stressful or painful experiences without dwelling on them for too long. We can consciously choose not to immerse ourselves in emotional turmoil or act out in a way that will be met with even more stress, drama, and pain.
It can act as an intervention to prevent further dysfunction in our lives and those close to us. In doing so, we can also improve interpersonal relationships by accepting other people for who they are, their faults, and potentially harmful behaviors.
This means we must accept our parents, children, siblings, friends, and loved ones in general and come to terms with our childhood and abuse we have suffered or any dysfunction we have witnessed. In doing so, we must also not dwell on what should have happened and accepting what did happen and dealing with it.
Radical Acceptance As a New Paradigm
Radical acceptance helps to form a new reality for ourselves. If we are to alter anything, we have to accept it first. For instance, if a person refuses to admit that he has cancer, he or she won’t seek treatment.
The problem won’t go away, and the only changes that will occur are those that are out of his or her control. Accepting a situation frees up emotional energy and allows us to identify certain things we can change, our thoughts and feelings associated with them, and what actions should be taken.
Ultimately, in doing this, we may, in fact, find a solution and improve the solution. If the person mentioned above accepts he or she has cancer, they can move forward to do something about it. It may not be the ideal circumstances, but that person may receive treatment that puts cancer into remission and prolong his or her life.
Radical acceptance also allows us to adapt our expectations, and this may be critical for an individual who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Radical acceptance allows us to consider new choices and move forward in all aspects of life.
What Radical Acceptance Is Not
There are misconceptions about what radical acceptance really is. Among the biggest myths is that radical acceptance means you must approve of the behaviors and events that lead up to it.
But radical acceptance doesn’t require you to sit complacently with the circumstances. Moreover, a child who was abused doesn’t have to agree that the abuse had some beneficial purpose, or that there is an excuse for it.
Fortunately, radical acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean approval. It is about the fact that, sometimes, fighting against reality serves little purpose but to amplify our emotional reactions, and we end up suffering more in the process.
Also, radical acceptance is not outward denial—it’s the opposite. It is not about neglecting emotions or dissociating from problems in any way. It’s not based on the idea that denying a specific circumstance will make everything all better.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
Accepting the events and outcomes in one’s life is the primary key to breaking free from addiction. We must come to terms with both our past and present and admit that we are flawed. By accepting that we are experiencing an addiction, we can begin moving forward, seeking treatment, and eventually reaching a state of recovery. On the other hand, denial of active addiction will never lead to change.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer comprehensive, customized treatment programs in partial hospitalization and residential formats. Our programs feature evidence-based services, which include behavioral therapy and counseling, that are clinically proven to be beneficial for the recovery process.
If you are ready to seek addiction treatment, contact us today and find out how we can help you get started on the road to a healthier, more fulfilling life!