MDS Patient Mental Wellness: Radical Acceptance Technique
When facing intense negative emotions, our first response can often involve anger, self-blame, or blaming external factors. Whether we blame ourselves or others, the fact remains that these emotions can often persist and use up a lot of energy, frequently causing emotional fatigue over time.
The therapy technique called radical acceptance, involves accepting your reality no matter how unpleasant, and letting go of bitterness. After accepting the reality of the situation and letting go of bitterness, one then frees up the energy that was previously being used for feeling upset at the situation, thus giving more capacity to make a proactive plan for the present.
The radical acceptance technique involves steps of accepting events and coping statements to help let go of negative thoughts and feelings without diminishing the significance of your experience.
- Step one: Think of an Important Event
- Choose a significant life event that's difficult to accept, whether it's a current or past situation you often think about
- Step Two: What Caused the Event?
- Write down the facts that led to the event you are struggling to accept. As you list these facts, avoid labeling/judging yourself
- Step Three: Accepting the Feelings
- Observe your emotional responses when thinking about the event, such as sadness, anger, shame, or frustration. Also, notice any physical sensations in your body associated with these emotions. Accept these emotions fully and remind yourself that you can't alter the past. This acceptance will bring a sense of ease
- Step Four: Proactive Plan
- The final step is to create a plan for the situation or its consequences. If it's not significantly impactful, stopping at step three of accepting feelings may be enough. However, if the event has had an undesirable effect on you, consider how you can improve the situation with a proactive plan
Apart from practicing the accepting events steps, you can also try coping statements to help with radical acceptance. Coping statements are a tool to practice radical acceptance when facing difficult emotions or situations. They serve as reminders that some things cannot be changed. Embracing reality in this way helps release emotional tension and judgmental thoughts, without diminishing the significance of your experiences.
Examples of coping statements include:
- I only have control over the current moment, not the past
- It’s not helpful for me to fight the past
- Even though my emotions are very difficult to experience, I can work through them to feel better
The above examples are not your only options for coping statements. If you think of other coping statements that work better for you, write them down and use them.
If patients need further help to support their emotional well-being, reaching out to a licensed mental health counselor is always a good option. We encourage you to take the needed steps to improve your mental health to better your quality of life.
about the author
Megan joined HealthTree in 2022. As a writer and the daughter of a blood cancer patient, she is dedicated to helping patients and their caregivers understand the various aspects of their disease. This understanding enables them to better advocate for themselves and improve their treatment outcomes. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, sewing, and cooking.