Radical acceptance is a key in keeping my brain level throughout the roller coaster of life.
Radical acceptance is acknowledging “your present situation… without judging the events or criticizing yourself.” Thinking about your situation without feelings can ease the troubled feelings that may arise from whatever you’re dealing with.
In order to remind myself that I can accept whatever comes my way, I’ve curated a list of “Radical Acceptance Coping Statements” that I remind myself of.
- The present is the only moment I have control over.
- The present moment is perfect, even if I don’t like what’s happening.
- Feelings aren’t facts.
- Here and now only.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other coping statements a person can use.
- This is the way it has to be.
- All the events have led up to now.
- I can’t change what’s already happened.
- It’s no use fighting the past.
- Fighting the past only blinds me to my present.
- It’s a waste of time to fight what’s already occurred.
- This moment is exactly as it should be, given what’s happened before it.
- This moment is the result of over a million other decisions.
Radical Acceptance Coping Statements
- I/they did that because it was their ‘job’ at the time.
- I know it is supposed to be this way right now because that’s how it is.
- I don’t need to fight reality.
- I acknowledge what is.
- I/they have done what I could.
- This is the reality now.
- No amount of emotional or mental resistance can change what’s already happened.
- The best way to prepare for the future is to accept the past and present.
- I can accept (fill in the blank) if or when it happens in the future.
- I am at peace with him/her/event/situation.
- I can handle (fill in the blank).
- I am, in fact, dealing with (fill in the blank), even if I sometimes think I’m not or think I can’t.
- Worrying about it or having negative feelings about it won’t change it.
- Everything has a cause.
- I can let go of this.
- Whether or not I accept this, it is still the reality. I can choose to accept it.
- I can choose to deny reality and suffer, or accept reality and find more peace.
- I can allow the world to be what it is.
Ultimately, shit happens, and there’s not always anything you can do about it … but you can accept it without criticism and judgement with a coping statement.
Do you have a favorite radical acceptance coping statement? Which one of the above strikes you the most? Can you write it on a Post-it note and tuck it away in your wallet for regular viewing? I bet you can.
This post inspired by a section in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.
My active imagination has been the boon and bane in my life.
As a kid I could lay in bed at night and imagine the life I’d live. It was regularly near or on the beach, there was always a dude involved, and I was smiling. It was filtered softly, like a direct-to-market pharmaceutical advertisement. I’d always fall asleep feeling warm and safe and like everything was okay – no matter what happened that day. (I am glad that’s not how it turned out.) I was constantly adding to my imagination.
As I aged, so did my imagination. After two decades of reading, an aging imagination darkens, develops, deepens, derives … and my imagination now is intense.
As an adult, I no longer spend my sleepless evenings imagining that drug commercial. I waste these nights thinking about what could go wrong … what might happen … all those “what if”s in my life. (Anxiety is a bitch.) These unbelievable situations used to plague me regularly; properly applied dialectal and cognitive therapy skills work wonders. Nights were ugly; my imagination was not my friend.
My imagination has started to bloom again. I’m weeding carefully and watering regularly this time around.
I know where my brain can take me if I’m not careful; digging in this dirt unearths more dirt. It’s not clean.
I have stories in me; I know it. I also know that they are tender stories easily overtaken by weeds and devoured by beetles of intimidation.
I can cultivate my imagination; with the right thoughts, the words will grow.
It doesn’t take much to soothe my wounds. Seriously, I can tide over near-tears frustration with a few tater tots and a cup of Burger King coffee.
After being told my insurance card showed an inactive status at a doctor’s appointment I’ve literally waited a month for, I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry!
I didn’t cry!
Last week I tried to see a new doctor in order to get this health business sorted out … and it was a fail. If I had done this appointment three months ago, I would have been a dissolved blubbering mess in the clinic, and I would have been even more embarrassed because I made a scene as a grown woman. The cycles of panic, anxiety, and depression are so so tight and nasty.
I’ve since discovered that I do have health insurance, but it’s through a different carrier, which means I have to make some important phone calls early next week to see another new doctor.
The day this happened, I didn’t give up after my appointment; I did the rest of my errands and I kicked the day’s behind. These little successes are only little to everyone else.
For me, any success is success.
Sometimes, thanks to my illnesses, I just fall apart. Yesterday was a fall-apart-day, and I spent it feeling sorry for myself.
I’m sick and tired.
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.
This is a tiring life.
I don’t always struggle to find the silver lining in those grey clouds, but if the lining were bright orange, or even a beautiful blue, I think it would be easier.
Thankfully, Coop gets me, and though he had to preference something he said to me yesterday with “I don’t want to sound like a dick, but …” and he was right. I burst into ugly sobs when he told me what I needed to do, and my immediate thought was “but you are a dick!” He was right.
Yesterday, I woke up feeling sorry for myself and I went to bed feeling sorry for myself.
Today, I pushed for a different story.
When I woke up earlier than Coop, instead of lazing away in bed, I got up, rolled out my yoga mat, and did some modified sun salutations. I breathed deeply with the intention of opening my heart to a new day and a new mood. I hoped to #choosemymood instead of letting it infect me.
I notice that even as I write this (and sip on mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm my coffee) I’m sitting taller, more alert (could be the coffee) and I generally just feel better.
I chose my mood this morning. I’ll choose my mood again tomorrow.
What mood do you choose?
Take a look around you right now. Is your coffee table covered in papers and books?
What about your bedroom? Is the hamper full of dirty clothes and your bed sits unmade?
Have the dishes been sitting in the sink for a week now? Could you lose your child in the playroom? Ever wonder if these things are related to your emotional state?
For me, it’s really a chicken and an egg situation: does the mess depress me or is the mess because of my depression? When I’m feeling blue, I surely don’t want to sweep, clear the dishes and put away the laundry. However, I know that doing those things also makes me feel productive and on top of things, i.e. less depressed.
Helium writer John Huetteman shares “housekeeping, whether living in squalor or not, is normally not given high priority as motivation to complete any task can be monumentally difficult.”
He also makes a great point when he reminds his readers that “the act of keeping a clean house can provide … an empowering effect during … helpless times. … cleaning house can be tantamount to a ritual cleansing during times of low self worth”. I absolutely agree with him on those points, but getting to the point where I’m motivated enough to actually do the cleaning is a big step.
While I was in college, if there was studying to be done, I would rather scrub the bathtub than flip through flashcards. I would cook elaborate meals but my German homework would go untouched. The house was spotless during finals week while I procrastinated studying.
When do you find your best cleaning time?
Your Messy House: Why It Could Be Making You Depressed – Glamour magazine tackles the problem of living in a messy house and dealing with depression
Clutter and depression – an interesting blog article about how destructive clutter can be in your house. Do you believe that clutter in your house is actually destructive for you? What about after reading this blog entry?
Is Your Living Situation Bringing You Down? – are there too many people in your house? Are there not enough people in your house?
I was once taught to use a “square breath” to calm my body before a test, and I would walk students through it occasionally before their own quizzes or tests.
I find myself using square breathing quite often lately when I’m overwhelmed or can’t quite sort out my too-many-tabs-open brain.
Square breathing is simple;
- breath in for four counts
- hold your breath for four counts
- breath out for four counts
- hold your breath for four counts
Repeat that cycle at least three times.
I don’t just use square breathing when I’m experiencing anxiety or stress; I practice it when I’m calm so I know it will work when I’m under pressure. I’ve even used square breathing to help me fall asleep. Your brain is a muscle and you can train it to work more efficiently, just like your biceps!