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.
•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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