For me a powerful part of my journey in life has been this concept of Radical Acceptance and its application. I have also found it to be a powerful experience for my clients as well. When we are experiencing emotions of discomfort or those that can just seem overwhelming at times such as anxiety, sadness, anger, shame, vulnerability etc.… we can have a tendency to react with fight and resistance. We push against the feelings. We generate critical self-talk about why we are feeling this way and why we shouldn’t be. We avoid, and the avoidance and resistance create other emotional experiences, thoughts, and behaviors that are more problematic then the initial emotion we had in the first place. So much energy goes into avoiding and pushing; its exhausting and unhelpful.
The paradigm of Radical Acceptance is that when we allow ourselves to lean into the emotion, feel the sensations that come up, and sit with the discomfort, and accept that we feel it even if we don’t like it we can move through the emotion.
I was in session the other day and explained the point of shame is not to not experience but to have shame resiliency and bounce back from the experience of shame. Shame is simply an emotion like all the others, but we usually really hate the feeling of shame (I mean who doesn’t it doesn’t feel great) but when we start resisting the emotional experience we usually create many other issues.
For example, I don’t want to feel this shame I have about not being good enough so I’m now going to avoid feeling that emotion by numbing via being really busy, drinking, eating, social media, television, or any other way we may avoid a feeling.
What would have happened if you had been able pause and sit with the emotion, identify, honor it, and then move on?
Radical Acceptance teaches us that we are worthy for simply existing. What a profound and different way of looking at ourselves. If I am inherently worthy than I am also worthy of all my emotions and experiences. I don’t have to fight them. I can be with them.
Radical Acceptance takes practice, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I usually recommend starting with a pause. When you become aware of an emotion that your feeling resistance against a good indicator could be critical self-talk hit pause.
Stop whatever you’re doing. Stop and take pause. If the pause is uncomfortable focus on your exhale breathe. If your exhale breath is uncomfortable focus on running furiously in spot (can be done seated) really pumping your arms until you can’t anymore and then focus on your exhale. Find your pause and scan for the emotion and identify it. Shame, fear, anxiety, anger, annoyed, etc...
Whatever the emotion call it out for what it is a feeling. Then try being quiet. Sometimes easier said then done but in the quiet is where we can really hear what our emotion is telling us. Don’t focus on how long you are pausing but just try it and see what happens. Perhaps it will allow you to not react in an unhelpful way and be able to honor your actual needs.
Hello! Welcome to my Blog on self care . I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher.