Radical Acceptance: Accepting The Things You Cannot Control

Have you ever heard of the Serenity Prayer?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

It has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, but I think the prayer prescribes a practice that would be beneficial to us all, no matter our personal struggle or belief system. A large portion of emotional pain exists because we we fall into one of the biggest traps, which is focusing too much on what we cannot control. One strategy that is suggested by therapists and life coaches is called ‘radical acceptance.’ It means exactly what it says: one is to totally (radically) believe or recognize (accept) a situation.

This concept isn’t for the faint of heart, radical acceptance can be quite challenging. We are socialized to believe that life  happens to us and that it is what we’ve earned or deserve. As a result, we either blame ourselves or others and internalize the consequences.

When practicing radical acceptance, one believes that life simply happens. It has nothing to do with us personally and it will always be unpredictable. Nothing will ever be perfect and life will never be smooth sailing. By realizing and accepting that there will always be ups and downs in life, one must release all the things that cannot change and now there is room to focus on only the things that actually can be different. Nothing is left but a world of possibility!

Free stock photo of black-and-white, exit, wall, vintage

In case you don’t already know, here is a list of things you really cannot change, even though you wish you could:

  • What people think of you
  • Who finds you attractive
  • Getting a job in a bad economy
  • What people say about you behind your back
  • Your parents and your childhood experiences
  • How you feel at all times
  • Who likes you and who doesn’t
  • Being offended
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Emotional triggers

These points of powerlessness are not highlighted to make anyone feel bad about themselves. It is actually the opposite. By accepting the areas of life that are truly our of your control, you empower yourself to focus only on that which is truly within your sphere of control. That is the power of radical acceptance.

Interested in learning more about radical acceptance and how you can apply it to your life? Contact me to make an appointment!