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 Post subject: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:06 am 
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I am struggling now in a very deep way with the concept of radical acceptance. I understand the concept, the challenge is embracing it with regards to how I see my life & how I move through the world. It seems to me to be so cyclical (my life). I feel as though I go through these periods where I work really hard and have these great epiphanies - and I think 'wow', I have really made some progress, only do discover in some journal I'd written 10 years or more ago, that I'd had that same epiphany. This happens over and over again. It makes me feel in some ways that my experience is not real... that I have been treading over the same path again and again and not recognizing it as being a path that I have been on before. My T told me not too long ago that she feels I have a form of anterograde amnesia - I am not sure that I believe her, though it does touch on something very real for me. So, it is really unclear to me, what I am accepting... am I accepting that my life is cyclical, that my progress is not real, because I've been on the same path before? I am a bit confused about this now. I can see the doorway... I'd heard in a talk not too long ago that psychologist Carl Rogers said that unless we accept ourselves as we are, we are not free to change. Maybe for me its accepting that my life is more like a tumbleweed, spinning around, but maybe in a forward direction, or maybe it is not... but if I can accept what it is that I wrote about my experience, then maybe that is the door that offers more awareness for something different to evolve/happen?


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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:39 pm 
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Heh, Amharra, you've just described why I never read my old journals -- I still have them, but they're just sitting on the floor gathering a bunch of dust -- I just don't want to know if I'm spinning my wheels and repeating the same stuff over and over. I know it sometimes when I do that, but it could be more frequent than I'm aware of. I've gotten curious a few times and considered reading the journals, especially some poems I wrote a number of years ago, and I've also thought about throwing them in the trash, because I'm afraid that one day, if I keep them around, my children might find them and start looking through them, and I don't really want them to do that.

None of that has anything to do with the central idea of your post, though. I am sure that to some extent your life is cyclical, because I think everybody's is. I'd also bet that you have made progress, even if you don't really see it.

I think our lives probably can be thought of as tumbleweeds. We have a little more control over where we're going than they do, but there are so many outside influences (family, jobs, health issues, you name it...) that change our direction in one way or another -- if the wind shifts completely around, we can even go backwards for a while. For me, radical acceptance means that I accept that where I am now is where I'm meant to be. Today is today. What is, is. If I don't like it or want to go in a different direction, then I can work on that. But whatever progress I make -- whether a good amount or only baby steps -- is OK. Tomorrow is another day. If something I'm doing isn't working, I can try something different. I can re-evaluate as often as I want. I try to do the best I can every day. I try not to look backwards too much, because I can't rewrite the past, and I also try not to get too hung up on trying to foretell the future. I try to think in terms of goals, not expectations. I try not to compare myself to others, or get myself in a twist if I think I'm measuring up or making the progress that somebody else is.

I don't know if this helps, or even makes sense to you, but it's kind of how I try to approach radical acceptance of my life.

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I can take it in small doses, but as a lifestyle I found it too confining. -- Jane Wagner


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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:30 pm 
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Hi Sari,
Thanks a lot for your reply. It really resonated with me on many levels - and your continued use of the tumbleweed analogy was useful. All of your points made so much sense to me & it helped me to recognize that I am being extremely hard on myself. I am in the midst of a very challenging situation and it seems as though I have used this time to take stock of where I am in my life & be critical of it. Its not the time to do that. I like the entire concept that you spoke of when you said:

Sari wrote:
radical acceptance means that I accept that where I am now is where I'm meant to be. Today is today. What is, is. If I don't like it or want to go in a different direction, then I can work on that. But whatever progress I make -- whether a good amount or only baby steps -- is OK. Tomorrow is another day. If something I'm doing isn't working, I can try something different. I can re-evaluate as often as I want. I try to do the best I can every day.


Its a whole new and self-accepting perspective for me to think that where I am now is where I am meant to be. I am really grieving & rather than accept that I am, I'm in the midst of taking stock & critically evaluating how I perceive my life to be so cyclical. Radical acceptance means that I might not be able to get that much done today... and its okay. Tomorrow, I may accomplish more or less, but whatever... that will be okay too... my life might be cyclical, but in essence, I am really dealing with the moment, what is happening for me in the here and now and finding a place for me to simply breathe and say 'Ah, and this too is okay'.

So looking though this lens that you shared Sari, helps me to greatly reframe things... and NOT evaluate my entire life. I was really needing some assistance with this. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:29 am 
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Glad I could help Amharra. Trying to live that way has calmed my life a lot. Sometimes I'm not so successful -- it's hard to stay in the moment and accepting all the time, and most of us will sort of fall short a little at times.

It's really all through trying to use all of the tools to the best of my ability. Not just Radical Acceptance, but the Agreements and the Five Steps too. If I have Situation A, what are three courses of action that I might take, and which one is the best? If I did X when I had Situation B and it didn't work out, what are three steps I might take the next time that situation comes up in my life? Am I being impeccable in my word? making assumptions (not just about others, but about myself as well)? trying my best? If I'm feeling lousy about Situation C, is there twisted thinking that I could sort out so that I would feel better about it?

That's not to say that I've got it all figured out all the time. There are still many days where I feel lost or frustrated or confused. I still don't love or respect myself the way I should, and I'm trying to figure that out. But I'm also trying not to get down or mad at myself because I haven't. It's just where I am today; what is, is; and I accept it.

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I made some studies, and reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.
I can take it in small doses, but as a lifestyle I found it too confining. -- Jane Wagner


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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:10 pm 
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Hi Amharra,

I think Sari has made some very good points and although I’m new to my recovery I would like to share what has help me and hopeful will provide you some helpful insight with Radical Acceptance.

I agree with “what is, is and where you are right now is just were you are”, there is no right or wrong it’s just what it is. As I look to my past (all the things I don’t like about it) I’ve learned to just accept that was the person I was at that time – without judgment. I can’t do anything about it and therefore the only healthy choice I have is to accept it. I also no longer read my journals because they put me back into the wrong state of mind. I don’t deny I was there I just don’t want to dwell on those thoughts. Instead of looking back on the past, I’ve started a file of what tools I’ve learned (my own personal tool box) that I can refer to anytime I like without the negative effects.

What has helped me with this is what I would call self love. This is simply learning to be my own best friend. This was strange and challenging in the begging, (as I was always so hard on myself) but what I did was start talking to myself the same way I would talk to my best friend in the world. If my best friend was feeling down I would be companionate to them. If my best friend was hurt from the loss of a relationship I would be there for them. If my best friend was depressed and hurting I would be supportive and understanding. In a sense I’ve learned to treat myself the way I would treat someone that I loved.

I struggled for some time with this, but the more I accepted me as my own best friend the easier it was to accept where I was in that particular moment without judgment. “It’s just what it is and I will be ok”.

I also agree with Sari about working all the tools at this site. It took me quite some time to understand that the problems I was having where not do to the issues I thought they were, they were really about learning to untwist my thinking, working the four agreements, and learning to apply these tools, thought the use of the 5 steps, in an effective manner.

This process takes time and I more I learn to accept myself as myself while being my own best friend the easier it has become to work the tools.

Well – this is just my 2 cents I hope you can find something useful within it.


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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:23 pm 
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I won't repeat what the others have said, but I've often heard that recovery is like a spiral staircase - you're so focused on going round and round, you don't realise that you're also moving upwards. If you do have memory problems I guess that's another challenge and there may be some strategies you can learn to deal with that - I like the idea of Anchorage's tool box file. :) But I have found that although sometimes I seem to be covering the same ground, and I don't always progress as fast as I'd like, I can recover from my relapses quicker now and it's easier to relearn stuff than to take it in for the very first time.

I think my key message is don't give up! :thumbsup

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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Just to add my two cents (and I'm a little wiped out emotionally right now so maybe just one cent) but I have also always kept journals. For me, I find it very helpful because I do go back and it helps me identify patterns in my life that I need to work on. Definitely, it is not like a pattern happens, you fix it, and then move on. I agree with you that bpd can be cyclical in nature but I personally find merit in identifying the patterns because I believe that self awareness is the first step. So yeah, maybe I have epiphanies about patterns and it still takes me several years before I've really learned to manage the pattern, but I do think that each time the pattern happens, I (hopefully) become a little bit more aware, and therefore a little bit further along in managing the pattern.

As for the radical acceptance part, I guess for me I am learning to recognize and radically accept when I am having the same pattern again. But I think radical acceptance is more about identifying, recognizing what you are thinking/feeling and then hopefully taking a step back from it. For instance, I have a pattern of shopping to make myself feel better. So, when I get that desire, I can radically accept the desire and radically accept that my pattern of wanting to shop to boost my mood is there. Then, I can choose whether or not to act on that pattern, depending on the circumstances.

I have no idea if any of that made sense! lol. I also am working on the concept of radical acceptance and am still pretty sketchy about it, to be honest. lol. Anyways, I hope that helped a little anyway.

Oh - one other thing, t used to say one step forward, two steps back, and that is okay. Annoying granted, but okay. lol.

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 Post subject: Re: Working on Radical Acceptance
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:00 am 
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Thank you everyone for your replies. It is really helping me, like a road map of sorts to find some sort of way in moving forward, in trying to be at peace.

Sari, thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Your original share has me still motivated in starting each day fresh, thinking when I get up in the morning that 'this is a new day'... I can try to make it anyway that I want... I think now, I might look more closely at what is getting me hung up & swinging my day into 180 degrees by the end. I guess, truth-in-fact, its not simply stopping and recognizing and accepting, but its stepping forward into using to tools, the 5 steps, now in those areas that I am getting really stuck. It's so hard. Thanks though for the reminder.

Anchorage, thanks for all that you have shared. I have been able to take much from it. I really like the idea of your personal toolbox, it has me thinking that after this post, I can create my own toolbox/reminders and then print them out and stick them up. If I can surround myself with visual stimulation of where I want to be, even when I am where I don't want to be, I think that it may help me as a bridge so to speak to seeing where I am, accepting it, and seeing the visual that reminds me of something... probably my process... I recognize that one of the blocks to radically accepting something is that I had created no room for anything else to exist. If I can create reminders that 'this too can exist', somehow I think it may create enough breathing room for me being more accepting in the moment of what is. I'm not sure that I really believe this, but it is a thought that has come into my mind. I will create a post my personal toolbox after I get offline - thanks. I have to work really hard around the friendship one... how I would treat others that I care about if they were hurting and in need of love & compassion. This is a really really hard one for me... I used to be able to externalize it, but I can no longer, as I feel as if I've treated my loved one's poorly... so much so that are stepping back. I'm stuck around this, but will focus on those things that are working for me now. Thanks so much for sharing.

Lirael, thanks so much for the reminder about how I can look at recovery. Its interesting, I am thinking that the up-side of being in this really stuck and painful place is that I am more open to finding ways out...and I am clearly seeing that its this acceptance of 'what is' that is one of these steps to working my way out. And yes, when I think I am spinning my wheels, I can remind myself of how things are different for me now, how now I reach out to others whereas before I didn't. I've been trying so hard not to relapse (which I have managed not to, even up to now & its been years now that I have been able to keep myself safe), so these things point to progress. So, yea, thanks.... all these things make a bigger picture, one that points to the fact that I am making progress. And, radical acceptance in this light, simply means I guess that what is, is... no self-judgement needs to be attached even if I backtrack. Thanks.

BPDPip5 - thanks a lot - I got a lot out of what you posted. Radical Acceptance is about me creating a door that I can slip through. The door opens when I can simply say, 'Ah, and this is my pattern'. When I am not accepting... there is no open door, there is no room for change; only self-castigation. So I recognize that everything that you and everyone else has shared is helping me in seeing that I need to be able to create this open door.... and when the door is not open, I can use my tools, and a wee bit of self-compassion to massage it open again. I think this is radical acceptance to me. The process of trying to keep the door open. The process of recognizing my patterns and watching and learning from them. The more room I have for giving them a 'space' (even when they are not serving me), is a form of Radical Acceptance... I get that giving them a space doesn't necessarily mean that they are serving me & that I find these patterns effective in my life (the ones that aren't). But if I don't give them a 'space', I can really see them, and learn from them. So again, maybe Radical Acceptance is embracing everything, all of me.
Everything you shared BPDPip5 made total sense to me. I really appreciated it - thanks.


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