Harnessing the Benefits of Radical Acceptance in DBT Therapy
By Jeanette Lorandini
When it comes to coping with difficult emotions and life challenges, there’s no magic wand that makes problems go away or easier to deal with—that’ll always take work. However, radical acceptance is worth a try if you’re seeking a life-changing skill to cope with life’s ups and downs. Plus, the benefits of radical acceptance are vast and life changing.
As a cornerstone of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), radical acceptance involves accepting the reality of one’s situation without judgment or resistance, no matter how unpleasant, unacceptable, or as unfortunate as spilled coffee. A significant advantage of radical acceptance is that it can be used in any setting, including personal and professional ones. Whether you’re a New York City executive trying to balance work and family or a teen facing high school pressures, radical acceptance is the key to finding peace and building resilience.
Read on to learn tips for implementing radical acceptance in different aspects of life and practical examples of how busy teens and professionals in NYC experience the benefits of radical acceptance.
What is Radical Acceptance?
Often used in addition to DBT, radical acceptance is a powerful tool for individuals experiencing intense emotions. Radical acceptance is rooted in the belief that suffering is not caused directly by pain but by attachment to our expectations. This attachment cycle is broken through radical acceptance, which encourages us to acknowledge, rather than reject, life’s disappointments and hardships.Using this strategy means recognizing and honoring difficult situations and the feelings that arise from them.
Accepting what is in front of us now is not so much about liking or appreciating it but recognizing that we cannot change it. This allows us to focus our energy on actions with greater potential for positive outcomes rather than trying to avoid our feelings or control something outside our control.
The Benefits of Radical Acceptance: How It Can Help with Stress, Life Challenges, and Goals
The benefits of DBT’s radical acceptance are found in the way that we react to life’s unpleasantness. Rather than avoiding or denying pain and life circumstances, this skill allows us to accept them for what they are. In this, we can recognize and work through problematic situations and uncomfortable moments while still striving towards goals. Adopting radical acceptance can also promote healthier relationships as we learn how to manage challenging circumstances objectively and without judgment.
This process entails embracing painful emotions rather than attempting to control or suppress them, taking responsibility for one’s emotions and actions without self-judgment. In this way, adopting a radical approach to life can help navigate life’s complexities and improve relationships and overall well-being.
Practicing Radical Acceptance in a Busy NYC Life
When you embrace all aspects of yourself, even the parts you dislike, that is radical acceptance in DBT. Taking a hard look at yourself—your strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures—is about realizing that all these things make you who you are today. In addition, it requires you to tune into yourself to find out what will make you happy instead of listening to the voice in your head telling you what you should do—or how you should live.
Here are some perfect opportunities to experience the benefits of radical acceptance:
- Start by noticing when feelings come up without judging them or trying to change them
- Learn how to express your feelings without judgment or the need for approval
- Create boundaries for yourself and others, then stick with them
- Let go of perfectionism and permit yourself to make mistakes
- Set healthy limits for yourself when it comes to giving help or going above and beyond for people who don’t value you
For teens living in the city, radical acceptance can help them handle unexpected curveballs and maintain their composure in challenging social situations. For example, if students feel embarrassed because they are being teased by their peers for their interests or hobbies—rather than reacting angrily—they can use radical acceptance to acknowledge their emotions and situation, understanding that it’s important not to become overwhelmed by negative emotions.
The same holds for executives who have both family and professional obligations. As we rush through our hectic schedules, it can be hard to find moments of stillness and self-care—but accepting these changes and being kind to ourselves during tough times is vital. In addition, practicing radical acceptance helps us recognize when we have taken on too much. As a result, we are not influenced by guilt or regret while doing our best at any given time.
DBT Strategies for Developing Radical Acceptance
The good news is, practicing radical acceptance is easier than you think. DBT offers a range of tools and techniques to help people practice radical acceptance. Here are a few:
DBT mindfulness skills are about observing the moment, your reactions, and emotions. Start paying attention to the thoughts that trigger your reactions. While many of us automatically react, increasing mindfulness allows us to pause and consider our options before responding.
Understanding Your Emotions
Once you become more aware of your thoughts, learn to understand and accept them as they arise instead of trying to stuff them away or ignore them. Understanding our emotions helps us better manage our reactions and develop the capacity for radical acceptance.
Reassessing Our Values
As we become more mindful and understanding of our emotions, it helps to reassess what we truly value in life—this helps us make decisions based on what is most important in our lives rather than what other people think or expect from us.
Taking the time to practice and experience the benefits of radical acceptance through DBT tools can be downright life-changing. In busy cities like NYC, where there is so much pressure to succeed, radical acceptance can be a powerful tool for managing stress and staying grounded in the present moment.
How Does Radical Acceptance Affect Daily NYC Life?
Radical acceptance is essential for peace, contentment, and health in a busy city like New York, where many demands and pressures exist. Through it, we can accept each moment and make changes if necessary. With its principles, we can challenge our thoughts and behaviors and better understand success and failure. This will enable us to be more present, mindful, and compassionate. We can reach a higher level of peace and understanding as we embrace our thoughts, feelings, and fears. We can make healthier, mindful decisions by disengaging from our fear and shame.
Whether you are a teen or an adult, DBT individual or group therapy with radical acceptance can give you the skills to meet the challenges of life head-on with a sense of inner peace and understanding. By understanding the value and power of radical acceptance, we can experience all life offers without judgment or stigma.
Begin DBT therapy in New York at Suffolk DBT
If you are interested in Suffolk DBT or want to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, or if you want to access our Long Island DBT therapy or our Manhattan DBT therapy services, please contact us today. It’s our goal to provide the highest quality treatment and guidance for children, teens, young adults, college students, families, and adults facing mental health challenges such as Borderline Personality Disorder, anxiety, depression, or eating disorders.