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Radical Acceptance

It is spring, the season for new growth, a time for change and transition. In this holding period between Christmas and the upcoming year, you may be feeling a little burned out.

While in this state of ambivalence, feeling neither here nor there, ready for a change but not quite sure which direction to take, the flowers outside are blooming and the leaves on the trees are changing colours. The warmer weather is calling us outdoors, to explore our surroundings and breathe in the fresh air.

During this change in season, instead of setting goals and thinking too far ahead, pause and reflect on your life for a moment and ask yourself "What has been my most joyful moment this year?"

Imagine experiencing joy, even if it is a memory from a fleeting moment. Paint a picture in your mind's eye of what was happening while you were experiencing this sense of joy.

Where were you? What were your surroundings like? Take a moment to remember any sounds, smells or textures you experienced in this moment of joy.

Was it a moment when you were laughing with a friend or hugging a loved one?

Or were you attending an exquisite concert or show, full of amazing lights and sound?

Did you have a warm and delightful meal, a delicate texture in your mouth, the perfect seasoning and temperature?

Maybe you were looking up into the starry sky while experiencing the vastness of the universe. Or it was a small exchange you had with a stranger, a compliment that made you feel seen.

After bringing that moment to mind, pause for a moment and ask yourself these questions:

- How can I create more time to experience small moments of joy in my life?

- How can I learn to be more patient with myself, others and the world around me?

- How can I be more flexible with myself and others?

Radical Acceptance is a concept from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) that teaches people how to cope in challenging situations. Radical acceptance is to accept all thoughts, feelings and emotions, both positive and negative as valid and important. It is to be able to notice, "I need to be patient" and to practice being gentle, kind and compassionate in periods of pain and suffering.

“Radical acceptance rests on letting go of the illusion of control and a willingness to notice and accept things as they are right now, without judging”. It is a “complete and total openness to the facts of reality as they are, without throwing a tantrum and growing angry.” (2021; p. 503)

Anxiety and angst can feel like it's dominating your body, mind and when you are going through periods of change and transition. Practising radical acceptance includes noticing moments of joy in periods of distress.

If we pay enough attention to what is happening around us, we can begin to notice and acknowledge the storm within can simultaneously happen while it's sunny outside.

Holding those contrasting experiences in mind can be challenging. The art of practising radical acceptance, self-compassion and mindfulness is to learn to create space for conflicting thoughts, feelings and emotions and validate them all as truths about the world and our experiences.

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