Thursday, September 13, 2018
Or rather Radical Acceptance, is the latest concept we have been discussing in DBT group. It is one of the main ways to truly accept reality (both the positive and the negative) and change suffering (which for these purposes is defined as pain + non acceptance) into ordinary pain... which can be managed/resolved and allows me to move forward with my life. What radical acceptance is NOT is passively accepting what is or allowing a bad situation to continue. Indeed, it is the first step in creating effective changes! I have to accept what is in the moment in order to see what changes need to be made... really there are only four available options when it comes to responding to pain/suffering 1. Solve the problem causing me pain (which may mean leaving the situation). 2. Change my feeling/attitude about the problem. 3. Acceptance of the problem causing me pain. 4. Or staying miserable! Radical acceptance takes the third option and asks me to accept the reality of the problem with all of myself (body, mind, and spirit)... it is not a denial of emotion, but recognizing the reality of my emotional reactions to events going on around me... as well as the events themselves, such that I can change my misery (but first I have to accept that I AM Miserable)...
So, how does this apply to my healthy lifestyle journey? In many ways I did this when I started this journey. And I bet many others did as well. I was so sick and tired and being overweight was merely a function of that. When I accepted the reality of the fact that I was morbidly obese, only then was I able to create a change in that reality. And when I changed the reality of being morbidly obese I changed the reality of being sick and tired ( and miserable) ... never mind the last month when I was sick with this and that, bleh. The facts are the facts, even when they are unpleasant. And the fact was that I was slowly dying and I was allowing it to happen. In fact, I was assisting the process with every bite, sip, nibble, binge. But, at some point I accepted the reality (and the responsibility) and from that point I was able to recognize that life WAS worth living... even with the pain of living it (events, emotions, health conditions). I had to accept that pain cannot be avoided, and when I had turned away from the reality and responsibility of my health and weight it turned pain into suffering! It kept me stuck in shame, bitterness, cycles of binges, and sedentary living. Acceptance of reality did not make me a happy go lucky person without pain, or sadness. I am human, and as far as I can tell those are components of the human condition. But it is what I do with pain that determines whether I am dealing with pain that is manageable and resolvable (even if the only resolution I get is acceptance of the reality), or soul-deep suffering. I have experienced both in my life. I have to say that the manageable “ordinary” pain is much less paralyzing and debilitating than suffering. Personally, I will do what I can to move through suffering as quickly as possible, even if it means accepting the reality of it in the moment. The only way out of misery is through the misery! Just as the only way to lose the weight was one pound at a time, and the only way to keep it off was to face and accept the reality of my motivations for becoming that overweight person in the first place. I had to accept the reality of my misery (physical, mental, emotional) in order to create lasting change in my reality. And I did. And I have. It is not easy. It is hard. But it was definitely worth it for me!