The psychologist, Marsha Linehan, founder of Behavioral Tech, developed the therapeutic method known as radical acceptance in order to help individuals cope with life’s myriad difficulties and so help them to recover from the psychological effects that may arise from having experienced childhood trauma, such as, for example, depression and anxiety.
N.B. The radical acceptance method forms part of the therapy known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
The Futility Of ‘Blocking Out’ Reality:
When we attempt to ‘block out’ reality, it frequently leaves us, in the long run, feeling worse rather than better. It also takes up a considerable amount of mental energy, quite possibly leaving us feeling constantly exhausted, depressed and anxious. (You may wish to read more about this in my article entitled: ‘Why Fighting Depressive Thoughts Can Worsen Them.’ )
Negative events leading to psychological pain are an inevitable part of life for everyone. Indeed, even those whose lives we may, superficially, envy will have to face illness, death of friends and loved ones, together, of course, with the prospect of their own eventual demise; not to mention all the other losses, humiliations, misery, torments and suffering life involves.
According to radical acceptance theory, we need to accept and face up to the negative elements of our lives rather than to try to suppress the painful emotions they evoke. This is because when we suppress our negative feelings, our ability to feel positive feelings is also reduced. Indeed, trying to suppress negative feelings can lead us to feel emotionally numb, dissociated, anxious, and depressed.
Denial Of Reality Leading To Addictions:
Furthermore, if we do not permit ourselves to accept our reality, we may, in a feverish and desperate attempt to escape it, turn to dysfunctional and harmful addictive behaviors such as drug-taking, excessive drinking, gambling, overeating, and workaholism.
Finally, it should be stated that the denial of our reality, however unpalatable, according to the radical acceptance theory, serves only to delay the psychological recovery process.
We cannot change what has happened in our lives, only our reaction to it.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).