Using Radical Acceptance to Manage Emotions

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Using Radical Acceptance to Manage Emotions


“Stop beating your head against a wall.”

This is a phrase most of us have heard. People may say it to us when they perceive that we are trying to change something that we have no control over or when we don’t like the reality of a situation despite it being the reality. They are essentially advising us to let it go. However, this is easier said than done. It is hard to let things go that seem so important to us. It is very difficult to let things go that appear to make or break our day, week, or even life. It can feel impossible to let things go when we feel anxious or angry. So how do you do it? Well, the answer won’t be your favorite, but it doesn’t make it any less honest and real. Sometimes the not fun part about therapy and life is that there is no quick fix. You have to start by making a choice. The choice is to radically accept the reality of your situation. Acceptance doesn’t mean you approve of it or are saying it is OK. It simply means that you are not fighting something you have no control over because it has already happened or it is simply just real. Is that new car you just bought a lemon? It is certainly understandable to feel frustrated, resentful, angry, and a whole host of potential reactions. Acknowledge those feelings. Don’t judge yourself for having them. At some point though, it may become appropriate rather than wallowing in them to radically accept that you unintentionally purchased a lemon. Accepting it doesn’t mean you are saying it is OK that it happened. Accepting it doesn’t mean you are approving of the bad situation. What it does mean is that you choose to no longer be stuck in negativity about it, accept the reality of it, and in doing so empower yourself to move forward. Now you can exchange the car for a working model or just return the old one or sue the car company or whatever is appropriate to the context of your situation. By radically accepting the reality of what is, you empower yourself to become unstuck and change the potential reality of what will be. You can fix whatever is going wrong or make up for what happened. You can move forward.

Feeling stuck in your life or struggling to accept the reality of something that has happened to you? Call (212) 335-0511 or email


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