Radical acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.

Radical acceptance is about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change.

When something happens that changes your life like COVID-19, you may feel anxious and sad. These are natural emotional responses. However, suffering is what you do with that pain and the interpretation you put on the pain. Suffering is optional; pain is not.

It’s exhausting to fight reality, and it doesn’t work, requiring as it does more unhelpful emotions which demand short-term energy and focus that could be more usefully deployed in helping you to move on and adjust.

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Task: draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper.  At the left-hand end of the line, write the word “Resistance” and on the other end of the line, write the word “Acceptance”. In considering our current COVID-19 crisis, place an ‘X’ on the line where you think you are between these two states. How helpful is it to be at this location for you right now?

Radical acceptance is a skill that requires hard work and repetition.

  • Begin by focusing on your breath
  • Notice thoughts you might have, such as “this situation isn’t fair”, or “I can’t stand what happened.” Let those thoughts pass
  • Give yourself an accepting statement, such as “It is what it is.” Practice it over and over again
  • Acceptance often requires many repetitions


Source: Linehan, M. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: The Guilford Press, 1993.

Psychology Today (key source for this Qard)


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