Radical acceptance. It is an awesome concept, it is even more amazing when you can actually apply it in your own life. It sounds simple, Psychology Today explains “Radical acceptance is about accepting of life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.”, my Doctor assures me that it is one of the most powerful tools that I can learn to use.
Life has thrown me some pretty huge curveballs, yet somehow I can accept these easier than I accept the small, probably insignificant, things of everyday life. The smaller things such as the feeling of being isolated, the sadness of being forgotten or left out, these are issues that upset me the most, feeling invisible is something I barely cope with, let alone find it easy to accept.
For many years I have kept a mask firmly in place, I have been the strong and capable friend and acquaintance, the one who makes meals and listens, the one who looks for anyone who looks a little disheartened and goes to sit and talk to them. I like to be there for people, to be the person I needed and hoped for when I was younger, to be the person I wish for now. There are a lot of things I get wrong, it isn’t an altruistic thing, I’m not a saint, I have a real fear of picking up the phone and never call people I probably should, I lack energy so it is very hard for me to go and help a friend who needs help to paint walls or moving house (although my dear husband often does this on our behalf). I neither need or want praise for trying to be a caring person, to me, if everyone took a few minutes a day to look after someone else then the whole world would be a kinder more beautiful place. It is simply my duty as a moral human to be as kind, giving, and gentle to those in need as I can possibly be.
But my personal experience has been that when you wear that capable mask, and build relationships that have required you to be the giving one, you rob yourself of the chance to be nurtured back. By spending my whole life surrounding myself with those who “need” me I have not cared for myself by finding those who “want” me. It has become a way to self harm, encircling myself with those who will run away when I need comfort and compassion I have allowed myself to become a self fulfilling prophecy. My mind says “You aren’t good enough, you aren’t worthwhile, and no one cares for you, you don’t deserve to be loved!”, and when those I have selected to have in my life can not be there for me it certifies the feelings and low expectations I have of my own worth.
The concept of radical acceptance has actually helped me deal with these feelings, it has taken a full year of therapy, and support from my husband, but these days I practice telling myself that “Feelings are not facts!” over and over again, I have noted the above reflections that have lead me to realise that many of my relationships are based on me being a giver, and these have a place in my life because giving is a kind thing to do, it makes the person receiving it feel good, and it makes the person doing it feel good. I feel like a better person when I can do something to help people, and I get a sense of accomplishment for having had a small part in making the world a better place.
I have also come to accept that these past relationships must have a smaller part in my life now, because NOW I am coming to realise that I too need people who love me as much as I love them, people who “want” me in their life. To expect the status quo of these other previously established acquaintances to change just because I have finally admitted that I need support is grossly unfair of me, that was not what they were formed on, that is not what the other person can give to me, they are focusing on getting through their own life in the best way they can and that is okay. I am the one who has changed, the one who needs something I didn’t need before.
Acceptance. It is such a powerful thing. To accept that fact that we can not change others personalities, nor should we want too, to accept that life is not always fair, and to accept that there are some things that will hurt us and the only person who can change that is us, these are all great to accept.
Life is what it is, sometimes we can influence the way things turn out, sometimes we can not. Sometimes we need to accept the unacceptable or the things that hurt us and our feelings. It is possible that it will not always be the way is is right now, unfixable, but if we can not change the situation in the present moment then we must sit with it and let it be.
To worry endlessly about the impossible is to waste the productive time you have.