Dr. Felicia Chang, psychologist (supervised practice) with the Child and Youth Mental Health Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital
Today I want to talk to you about a skill we call radical acceptance.
Dealing with unexpected situations
During the pandemic, we know that people are in situations that they did not expect. Maybe you were really excited to perform in the school play or to go to prom, and now those things have been cancelled. Maybe just having to be home and not being able to see your friends as much is really hard.
Many ways to respond
Regardless of the situation, we know that there are different ways you can respond.
We can engage in problem-solving or try to change how we feel about the situation. We can accept the situation, we can stay miserable, and sometimes we can even do things to make the situation worse, maybe by letting our emotions or impulses take over.
Problem-solving is a wonderful option when we can do that, but we know that sometimes some situations just can’t be changed, and in those, practicing radical acceptance can be really helpful.
It is what it is
Radical acceptance is a choice to accept a situation fully for what it is. It really means moving from the stance of, “Ugh, why me? Why is this happening?” to a stance of “Things are as they are.”
When we practice radical acceptance, we want to be accepting and willing both mentally and physically.
So, if you find that you’re really fighting in reality, there’s a lot of tension in your body, or you’re just really not into it, take a deep breath. Try opening your palms up to a more willing stance and reminding yourself, “Things are as they are” or “It is what it is.”
A choice to help us cope
Remember that acceptance does not mean approval. Just because we choose to accept a situation to reduce our own pain and suffering, it doesn’t mean that we’re saying that we like it, that we endorse it, or that we’re okay with it. It’s just a choice to help us cope in that moment.
Radical acceptance can be helpful in all different aspects of life, so give it a try.