Definition & How It Can Help — Talkspace

How Does Radical Acceptance Help with Emotional Pain?

Since 1993, DBT and radical acceptance theory have gained a lot of popularity and are now being used to help treat other conditions like certain types of depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few.

DBT for PTSD and numerous other conditions, all have emotional dysregulation in common. Each can be treated with the core lessons taught in both Buddhist theory and radical acceptance.

Practicing radical acceptance helps alleviate painful emotions by encouraging you to:

  • Accept reality as it is
  • Anticipate occasional misery and be OK with it 
  • Explore the core of what’s causing your emotional pain
  • Appreciate and accept your past and the present moment, even if it’s not the way you like it

Radical acceptance teaches you that instead of rejecting reality, you should embrace it. This empowers you to break the cycle of emotional suffering, bitterness, unhappiness, anger, or other uncomfortable emotions that you might be persistently experiencing.

We all suffer, and it’s not easy to get through sometimes. However, we cannot expect these difficult emotions to be alleviated without taking action to heal. By acting with intelligence and intention and utilizing healthy coping techniques, self-healing and overcoming emotional pain is possible. Further freedom from your pain can occur much quicker than you might think. 

Now, let’s examine some of the core mechanisms of radical acceptance theory.

Components of radical acceptance

Two crucial elements of radical acceptance are a need to: 

  1. Be able to shift your mind to reject suffering
  2. Be willing to engage in life fully, understanding the good and the bad

It’s essential that you’re willing to reject intense emotion and pain based on past events or things that are out of your control. You must shift your way of thinking toward accepting the path that you’re on, and not work against yourself by staying inside your misery.

Radical acceptance can help you become determined to minimize negative emotions like bitterness, hatred, anger, guilt, and shame. It’s important to make an internal commitment to start practicing acceptance of your reality. To fully shift your mind, you’ll need to repeat this inner commitment and be dedicated to its development. 

In time, you’ll find yourself moving away from misery and reveling in the enjoyment of life.

All of this considered, it’s important to acknowledge that no long-term healing from emotional pain can happen unless you’re willing to actively participate in life. It takes willpower to achieve a new lifestyle that’s free from persistent emotional pain. You should be prepared: like any healing, it’s going to take work. The result, however, is well worth the effort. A more peaceful life of happiness and freedom from this intense emotion is what you’re working toward.

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