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09/28/2011 11:40 PM

DBT Online Lesson 11 Radical Acceptance


Lesson 11 Distress Tolerance Skill Radical Acceptance


Skills Training Manual pages 102, 176, 177.

Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, page 148.

Personal DBT Class notes, September 7, 2005.

Believe it or not, Radical Acceptance is the first step towards change. It is the letting go of fighting reality. It does not mean you have to like it or approve of reality, it is simply accepting it as it is. The term “radical” means to imply that acceptance has to come form deep within and has to be complete. Acceptance is the only well out of hell! It is the way of turning suffering that cannot be tolerated into pain that can be tolerated. Pain is a part of living; it can be emotional and it can be physical. Pain is nature's way of signaling that something is wrong, or that something needs to be done.

1. The pain of a hand on a hot stove causes a person to remove her hand quickly. People without the sensation of pain are in deep trouble.

2. The pain of grief causes people to reach out to others who are lost. Without it there would be no societies or cultures. No one would look after those who are sick, would search for loved ones who are lost, or would stay with people who are having difficult at times.

3. Pain of fear makes people avoid what is dangerous.

4. Pain of anger makes people overcome obstacles.

Suffering is pain plus nonacceptance of the pain. Suffering comes when people are unable or refuse to accept pain. Suffering comes when people cling to getting what they want, refusing to accept what they have. Suffering comes when people resist reality as it is at the moment. Pain can be difficult or almost impossible to bear, but suffering is even more difficult. Refusal to accept reality and the suffering that goes along with it can interfere with reducing pain. It is like a cloud that surrounds pain, interfering with the ability to see it clearly. Radical acceptance transforms suffering to pain.

Turning the mind is choosing to accept. Acceptance seems to require some sort of choice. People have to turn their minds in the direction, so to speak, of acceptance. Acceptance sometimes only lasts a moment or two, so people have to keep turning the mind over and over and over. The choice has to be made every day – sometimes many, many, times a day, even an hour or a minute.

Willingness is accepting what is, together with responding to what is, in an effective or appropriate way. It is doing what works. It is doing just what is needed in the current situation or moment. It is being willing to do what you need to do (do what works) even if you do not feel like it.

Willfulness is imposing one's will on reality – trying to fix everything, or refusing to do what is needed. It is the opposite of doing what works. It is doing what we want to do, because that is what we have always done, even though it may get in our way. It takes us from our goal.


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Basic Principles of Accepting Reality

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Radical Acceptance

•Freedom from suffering requires ACCEPTANCE from deep within of what is. Let yourself go completely with what is. Let go of fighting reality.

•ACCEPTANCE is the only way out of hell.

•Pain creates suffering only when you refuse to ACCEPT the pain.

•Deciding to tolerate the moment is ACCEPTANCE.

•ACCEPTANCE is acknowledging what is.

•To ACCEPT something is not the same as judging it good.

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Turning the Mind

•Acceptance of reality as it is requires an act of CHOICE. It is like coming to a fork in the road. You have to turn your mind towards the acceptance road and away from the "rejecting reality" road.

•You have to make an inner COMMITMENT to accept.

•The COMMITMENT to accept does not itself equal acceptance. It just turns you toward the path. But it is the first step.

•You have to turn your mind and commit to acceptance OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sometimes, you have to make the commitment many times in the space of a few minutes.

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Cultivate a WILLIING response to each situation.

•Willingness is DOING JUST WHAT IS NEEDED in each situation, in an unpretentious way. It is focusing on effectiveness.

•Willingness is listening very carefully to your WISE MIND, acting from your inner self.

•Willingness is ALLOWING into awareness your connection to the universe -- to the earth, to the floor you are standing on, to the chair you are sitting on, to the person you are talking to.

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•Willfulness is SITTING ON YOUR HANDS when action is needed, refusing to make changes that are needed. •Willfulness is GIVING UP. •Willfulness is the OPPOSITE OF "DOING WHAT WORKS," being effective. •Willfulness is trying to FIX every situation. •Willfulness is REFUSING TO TOLERATE the moment.

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HOMEWORK: Find and describe and example in your life where you were willful, willing and turned the mind between them to radically accept a situation.


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