Radical Acceptance

It is what it is

It Is What It Is...

Is it? Yes it is in fact exactly what it is! Now, I remember a time a few years ago a friend of mine said it to me on repeat when I was in a situation and it wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time. Although, exactly what I needed to hear. Fast forward a few years and I often say these words to myself – it helps that I also have a better understanding of them!

I said ‘It is what it is’ to someone recently and was told it was a ‘Love Island thing’ – news to me! When I say ‘It is what it is’ to myself I’m actually referring to Linehans ‘Radical Acceptance’ and not Love Island!

What Is Radical Acceptance?

Radical Acceptance is about accepting situations as they are and not pushing against things that you cannot change. It’s hard to accept what you don’t want to be true but it’s even harder to not accept it. A situation you can’t change may cause pain, not accepting a situation you can’t change will cause suffering. Unfortunately we can’t avoid pain but what we can control is how much we suffer – we do this by accepting the situation we can’t change.

I’m not saying acceptance isn’t hard, it is hard and it does cause pain but when you push away feelings of sadness a few things happen; one – more suffering occurs, two – avoiding emotions can cause anxiety and three – by avoiding the ‘negative’ emotions, unfortunately you reduce all those positive joyful emotions. 

So yes, accepting can be hard. It’s worth noting that accepting doesn’t mean you agree with the situation but that not accepting/resisting means suffering. Not accepting is an uphill battle, and spoiler alert you won’t make it to the top of said hill. Continually trying to climb that unclimbable hill will only cause suffering and delay healing so take off your hiking boots!

How do you stop suffering in situations you can’t control? Practice accepting. Practice letting go of what you wanted a situation to look like and accepting what is.

Practice Acceptance

It’s an idea to put this acceptance into practice for ‘the small stuff’ so that you’re a pro for ‘the big stuff’! For example, next time you’re stuck in traffic, maybe try saying ‘this is the situation, I don’t like it but I also can’t control it or change it – it is what it is’

You only have to radically accept the moment you’re in and the past, the future is up for grabs!

Dr. Harry Barry often speaks about acceptance, click here for a link to one of his many interesting books, this one focusing on self acceptance.