• Claire McGrath

Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance is defined as the ability to accept situations that are outside of your control without judging them, which in turn reduces any suffering that may be caused by these situations (Accepting Reality Using DBT Skills). If you can just accept that some problems are out of your control, then you can move on and release any pain these problems are causing. It’s a concept used in dialectical behavior therapy, a type of therapy useful in treating mood disorders and certain changes in behavior patterns. I’ve found that this idea can be really useful in your life, whether you have a diagnosed mood disorder or not. This concept is one of the most life-changing ideas I’ve encountered thus far in my life. Of course, this is not as simple in practice, and I’ll be honest, it has taken me a lot of practice to start trusting and relying on it as much as I do now.

How can I relate this practice to the interfaith work I recently started doing this semester? There are a couple ways I can think of. First, one interesting part of radical acceptance is that it’s something that a lot of Buddhists use in their spiritual practice. It’s a different way of framing Buddhist teachings of mindfulness and compassion. One article talks about radical acceptance in Buddhism as “pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside us with this kind of unconditional friendliness” (Becoming an Inner Peace Activist).

I think that radical acceptance can help people steer away from dogmatism relating to religion (the idea that one religion is better than another). I grew up Catholic, so for a long time I had a very specific view of religion. I needed to accept that some religions are going to have very different viewpoints about life than Catholicism does. I don’t align too closely with any one religion now, but while I think it’s relatively easy for me to understand that different religions hold different views, I just have to remember to orient myself.

I think that the way radical acceptance can help me the most is by learning to accept that I can’t go into situations looking to change people. I have to go into situations intending to listen to people. I am still working on this and will probably always be working on it. Despite being a pretty tolerant person on a lot of issues, I can be extremely intolerant when listening to those who don’t hold the same values that I do. I shut down, I get angry, I walk away before the conversation has even started. I have been doing this my whole life and am just now realizing how harmful it is.

I need to accept that some conversations are going to make me really uncomfortable, but sometimes they need to happen anyway if I want to move forward with my life.

Once I push past discomfort, it’s freeing to see how much progress is made in actually making myself more comfortable.

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