“I’m my own worst critic.”
The negativity bias in our brains makes it easy to see our own faults and difficult to value aspects of ourselves that others admire. Maybe the way that familiarity breeds contempt starts with the way we see ourselves? And yet it feels true to say that loving yourself is the key to loving others. Perhaps accepting yourself is the pathway toward accepting others, and maybe even building a sense of acceptance for the world.
The “radical” part of Radical Acceptance
Walt Whitman wrote, “To know today or any day I am sufficient as I am.” Not perfect, but sufficient. Can I really accept this flawed body, this imperfect mind with all its faults, this man who has hurt others feelings and has made poor decisions? It may feel impossible to accept all of yourself for exactly who you are. And yet a conscious effort to do this can be profoundly helpful and grounding.
What on earth is acceptance, anyway?
Radical Acceptance is not a lounge chair. It is not a way to stop trying and acquiesce to your current condition or lower your standards. Instead Radical Acceptance provides you with a way to be practical, embracing who you are today. You can bring awareness to both strengths and areas of growth and then move consciously into construction of your garden.
Your garden includes weeds you may have to pull. Okay, there are patterns to recognize and change. Accepting that this is true gives you a clearer idea of what to work through or refine. No time to meditate? Wake up five minutes earlier, twice a week and meditate before coffee. Frustrated with your lack of progress on guitar? Accept that you feel stuck and sign up for lessons once a month. Accepting yourself gives you a starting point for moving toward your goals.
Radically accepting others
As above, radical acceptance of others does not mean that you are content with what others have done nor that you will not hold them accountable. Instead it posits a frank admission of how things stand. Again, the focus is on a practical acceptance of where others are coming from that provides for a fresh start or engagement. From there you can start moving toward common ground, taking perspective, and entering into constructive dialog and exploration.
Radically accepting the world
The Negativity Bias of the brain makes it hard for all of us to see the world and its potential in a clear way. Radical acceptance can mitigate our implicit bias just enough to explore possibilities we otherwise wouldn’t see. Can you see the desert not as a fixed state but as fertile enough to be a starting point to plant trees and combat climate change? So it is that we can look out at the world and accept where it is today, maybe the way we see a clock, something that feels endless but always moving into the next, future state.
Your therapist can help you to overcome barriers to self-acceptance. Your therapist can help you to accept and recognize the patterns others have going, and help you consider how to relate and engage. Your therapist can help you consider the larger world and refine how you contribute to making change.
Consider employing the experts at SF Stress & Anxiety Center. Clear the fog. Find and expand your center. Improve how you relate to yourself, others and the world. Click the button below to schedule a time to speak to a Care Coordinator.