God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Most of us have heard of the serenity prayer referenced above, but do we really understand what it means?
When we encounter things in life, we tend to gravitate more towards accepting the things that happened that we appreciate, while avoiding the things that we cannot. But we fail to realize that it is through avoidance that we often find our most difficult experiences.
When we accept our circumstances for what they are, we can make desired progress. Whether you are ending a relationship that’s unhealthy or because someone cheated, dealing with a traumatic experience of sexual assault, or losing a job during a pandemic, the quicker you are to accepting your circumstance for what it is, the better off things will be.
Radical acceptance means to accept things all the way, completely and totally; this includes: The good. The bad. And the ugly.
It is accepting in your mind, your heart, and your body that what you have experience is your experience and that it is real and true. To fully accept the experience, you must stop fighting reality because it is not the way you want it and let go of any negative feelings associated with your ability to except the difficulties of life.
There are many reasons why one must accept reality… Here are a few of them…
- Rejecting reality does not change reality.
- Changing reality requires that you first radically accept your situation.
- Pain can’t be avoided; it’s a part of life and the quicker you accept the painful things in your life, the better you will be when it’s time to work through that.
- If you want to feel better about your difficult experiences, you’ll have to accept the difficulties.
- Refusing to accept reality is one of the biggest contributing factors to your feelings of unhappiness, bitterness, anger, sadness, shame, and or painful emotions.
- Rejecting reality, is often more painful than accepting it, and often leads pain into suffering.
- Acceptance may lead to sadness, but it’s usually followed by feelings of relief.
You can improve your ability to practice radical acceptance by doing the following:
- Be honest about whether or not you were questioning reality. If you are questioning reality, make the decision not to.
- Remind yourself that unpleasant reality is what it is. You don’t change it by avoiding it, but by accepting it you can find long-term peace with it.
- Remind yourself that things happen for a reason. You might not understand the reason at this moment in time, like a puzzle, often times with the puzzle is almost complete, you can find a space for the missing part. You understand your life and situations as things unfold but none of this could be done without acceptance.
- Be creative in finding the ways accept difficult things. Examples include positive self talk, relaxation, and deep breath’s. For people who have a religious faith, having faith can also help you to accept reality.
- Feel the feelings. If disappointment, sadness, and grief arise, allow yourself to experience it while reminding yourself “ weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Practicing radical acceptance is challenging, especially if it’s something you’ve not done before. If you would like support on practicing radical acceptance for the difficult experiences in your life, please reach out to one of our therapists today.