Using Radical Acceptance to Ease Adapting to Change
We’ve all experienced so many dramatic changes these past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us, the structure and routine we relied upon to keep us sane, happy, and healthy has notably shifted. For instance, the pandemic has taken many of our hobbies, such as going to the gym or the beach, as well as spending time with a group of our friends (in person).
It’s understandable, then, that many of us have been experiencing such emotions as loss, sadness, anxiety, denial, fear, and panic.
In times like these, our brains try to help us by assuring us that everything is normal. The reality is, things are different, and it takes several skills and consistent effort to face that reality and properly adjust to this change.
One of the most effective therapeutic orientations, known as dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT), gives us some great tools to help with this current time. One such tool is radical acceptance.
This tool refers to embracing something entirely. In their Book, The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, McKay, Wood, and Brantley write, “Radically accepting the present moment, for instance, means that you don’t fight it, get angry at it, or try to change it into something it’s not. To radically accept the present moment means that you must acknowledge that it is due to a long chain of events and decisions made by you and other people in the past. The present moment never spontaneously leaps into existence without being caused by events that have already taken place. Imagine that each moment of your life is connected like a line of dominoes that knock each other down” (p. 51).
Moreover, the normal human tendency to judge and criticize ourselves and our experience, blame others, and become rageful, as is common for us to do under extreme change circumstances like these, often leads to greater suffering. The fact is that when you focus your attention and energy on these emotions, thoughts, and experiences, you lose sight of the reality that the change has already occurred, and its best to figure out optimal ways to cope with it.
So, when you radically accept the current moment, this presents you with an opportunity to let go of unproductive thoughts, emotions, and experiences, notice the part you played in creating it. Then, you can then see where you can adapt to the situation in novel ways to foster increased happiness, control, confidence, and hope.
I can help you better understand and practice using radical acceptance to make this change process much easier for you through a telehealth session through a HIPAA compliant video or phone session. Give me a call and we'll discuss how I can help. Jordan Zipkin, LMFT, at 561.214.4113.