The topic. WordPress Posting Challenge: Pick something you don’t like, and choose to accept it. I wrote about an every day annoyance. Such mosquitoe bites of unpleasantness erode the quality of life. A number of others wrote about the same small annoyances. A few shared what the theorist Marcia Linehan calls Radical Acceptance. Radical acceptance is key to the ability to staying strong and feasting on what you can feast on. Here the a story of what Linehan means.
Here is how Linehan defines radical acceptance. “So what’s Radical Acceptance? What do I mean by the word ‘radical’? Radical means complete and total. It’s when you accept something from the depths of your soul. When you accept it in your mind, in your heart, and even with your body. It’s total and complete. When you’ve radically accepted something, you’re not fighting it. It’s when you stop fighting reality. That’s what radical acceptance is.
In my book Parents Are People Too, I devote one chapter to acceptance and another to radical acceptance. One of Linehan’s stories that described it best for me talked of a mother and child caught in an earthquake that demolished their home. They were trapped in the dark, debris all around them them.. The child called out to the mother to come. The mother moved to where the child’s voice seemed to be coming from and found her way blocked. There was, however, a hole that the child could climb through so she kept urging the child to come, but the child just kept crying and calling for her to come. The mother grew anger, yelled at her son. When the dawn came she could see the child was also pinned and could not move. She had no choice but to accept what was. Fighting fate was destroying any comfort she could give her child.
Radical acceptance asks us to live in the now, no matter how painful. To endure what we must, while no longer trying to change what is. Not easy, takes a warrior, takes lots of emotional fitness. I beleive tTwo things help.
One is having an explanation or philosophy that lets you make sense of all the bad things that happen without falling into anger or self-pity. Faith in G-d helps some, but is not essential.
My particular view is that I hope there is a force more powerful than we know and that has the greater good of all in mind. I hope that force is both loving and just. I have to reconcile those hopes with the fact that life is not just and loving does not stop bad things from happening. So I believe in both miracles and accidents; I believe both visit people randomly, but make it possible for a greater good to continue to grow and develop.
Lewis Thomas in his Life of the Cell notes that DNA’s capacity to mutate randomly is the building block of our world. No mutation, no life by green sludge. Not everyone’s explanation, but what comforts me and allows me to move on in face of all the pain that visits us in our world.
The second sustaining component of radical acceptance is the ability to self sooth. This starts with calming the body, learning to live in and with the now even when the now is pain. Meditation helps. Doing what one can do to savor all or any good helps. Acting kindly helps. Caring helps. Not that any of these guarantee the pain will die; hopefully, you will continue to live the best possible life you can. That is what K.B. has done once she stumbled into realizing radical acceptance was her only choice. She has shown the way to a life of grace and I thank her for sharing her story.
Stay strong all of you.
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