Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance

Unprecedented: Crisis.

This word captures the magnitude of the impact of the COVID19 health crisis has had on every area of our lives. The impact is both intensely personal and at the same time being experienced by our entire global human community. 

For many of us, worries about the immediate and long-term future have reached a tipping point, with fear of the unknown threatening to overwhelm our ability to manage it. For those who have previously struggled with anxiety and depression, the sense of overwhelm is compounded.

Unprecedented: Fear, Anxiety, and Uncertainty. 

Having unlimited amounts of time socially isolated, without our usual routines has been unsettling. Economic uncertainty is a threat to our livelihood. Our instinctive response to a threat is to become hyper-vigilant; a stress-based state of readiness. Many of us have taken heed of the safety precautions necessary to stay safe while out in the world, such as wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing our hands. 

However, this constant physiological state of stress is counterproductive to maintaining a strong immune system. Studies have shown that stress impacts our immune system negatively, due to the release of stress hormones which take a toll on our bodies.

In order to truly maintain our health, we are encouraged to look within; to learn more about how to create wellness in our inner world—our true selves.

Unprecedented: Opportunity. 

As uncomfortable and disrupting as it is, this crisis has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to slow down, and to connect with our selves in a way that may not have been possible while we were engaged in our busy daily lives. We have an opportunity to become mindful – to consider where we are, how we got here—and if desired— make adjustments or start over.

Research over the past several decades validates both the short and long term benefits of mindfulness in shoring up our immune system. As you learn to regulate your emotions and develop mindfulness, you will also be providing a boost to your immune system. 

Radical Acceptance and Mindfulness are two practices that can be cultivated to reduce stress to our immune systems and ground our selves in a more beneficial psychological mindset—offering an unparalleled opportunity for development of personal stability. 

Simply understood, radical acceptance means we acknowledge that things are “as they are.” This is a first step, not the end game. It is simply an acknowledgment of the reality of what has happened or what is currently happening, both outside and inside of us. 

Radical Acceptance

Let me emphasize: Radical acceptance is not the same as “agreeing with” or passively allowing unacceptable situations or behaviors from others. It simply means you fully face reality “as it is” so you can see clearly without distortions and take appropriate action as necessary.

Once we accept reality as it is, we can then consider if and how we’d like to change it.  Rather than judging what is happening, and spending energy on objecting and telling stories about it; we acknowledge  “OK, this is happening.” Then we ask, “Now, how do I want to handle it?”

How does this help us? Objecting to reality actually intensifies our emotional reaction and clouds our ability to think clearly and make the best decisions. Caveat: Developing Radical Acceptance is not necessarily easy. Change rarely is. Adapting our patterns of behavior requires focused attention and effort, but it is within our control and the benefits are immediately realized.

Consider the following scenario, which demonstrates two approaches to a circumstance

Let’s imagine a typical situation befalls two women; I’ll call them Maggie and Sarah. They get into a traffic accident while driving on the highway. 

After the initial shock, Maggie becomes angry because she believes the accident was caused by Sarah’s error. This causes her to get out of her car and confront Sarah, putting herself in danger. She then calls her husband and spends time and energy retelling what happened and defending herself – forgetting that she needs to call the insurance company to report the accident. 

Maggie is stuck in a mental loop. Maggie is adding suffering to what is an unfortunate circumstance. She also misses the opportunity to feel gratitude for the fact that she was not harmed. She is making a bad situation worse by objecting to the reality of the situation. 

However, Sarah is more mindful. Rather than objecting to reality, Sarah moves more quickly from shock to accepting what is — which is that she has been in an accident. She doesn’t focus on whose fault it was; she knows insurance will handle that. Instead, she focuses on the here and now, and is grateful that both she and the other driver appear to be unharmed. Because she is less emotional, Sarah can see things from a wider perspective. She was shaken from the accident but remains in control of her emotions, she is not rejecting or judging reality. When Maggie approaches her, she remains in her car and keeps her cool. She avoids a potentially heated exchange. She has the where-with-all to call her insurance company and the police from the safety of her car. 

This example illustrates in a simple way how radical acceptance allows us to face reality as it is, and make the best decisions we can. Neither woman was able to change the reality of the situation. They were both in a car accident. However, the event was much more draining for Maggie, and impacted her well being more negatively.  This is an example of how radical acceptance can help us to reduce our suffering. 

Radical acceptance is well expressed in this well-known excerpt from The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971)

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.

Applying Radical Acceptance to the Moment

If there is one thing this global pandemic has made abundantly clear, it is that no matter how well we plan (and yes we should plan) there are many things out of our immediate control. In light of this fact, we can use radical acceptance to discern what it is we do have control over within our circumstances, and how to make best use of our energy toward the well being of others and our selves.  

Here are some practical tips for how to apply radical acceptance to the moment:

Ground yourself in the present moment. – Often, much of our anxiety is based on fear of the future. When anxiety threatens to overwhelm you, try focusing your attention on what is coming through your 5 senses: What do you see, what do you hear, what are you feeling in your body, do you have a taste in your mouth, can you smell anything. Breathe into these sensations. Doing this for one or two minutes will significantly reduce your anxiety and allow you to solve problems with more clarity.

Move your body – Check in with how your body feels; do you feel tightness in your chest? Is your breathing rapid, or shallow? Do you feel tension in your neck? Once you have determined that these bodily sensations are not related to sickness, try stretching, going for a walk nearby, or put on some music and dance around the living room, joy in movement is a great stress reliever!

Limit media exposure of the news – While it is important to stay aware of the most recent updates, try to limit your intake to that which is actionable, and will actually make a difference to your day-to-day functioning. Once you have the information you need, turn off the news, and seek other forms of relaxation and entertainment. Perhaps finally binge-watching that TV show you have never had time for, or maybe find a good comedy special. Laughter is the best medicine!

Develop mindfulness – Mindfulness means paying attention to what is happening inside of you and outside of you, in the present moment, without judgment.  Mindfulness is not necessarily quieting your mind, although that may happen as you cultivate this practice. Rather, mindfulness lets us widen our view of any given moment, so that we see ourselves within what is happening. This small shift in perception can help us avoid getting absorbed in thought and anxiety. It’s like putting a wedge between you and your thoughts and emotions, which allows you to realize that you are NOT your thoughts or emotions. With practice, you come to see that your awareness is constant, it is the thoughts and emotions that come and go. This space is where the magic happens and where freedom from the grip of anxiety may be possible.

The ground we gain by tending to our internal experience will serve us both now and all the days of our lives. In a life full of uncertainty and the inevitability of change, the ability to ground and regulate ourselves in our Self is an opportunity to become familiar with a truly constant and stable place. 

Developing these mindfulness practices requires practice. Working with a life coach or individual therapist can help facilitate the development of these skills. The best part is, when we are better able to cope our selves, we help others we are in contact with to become more grounded as well.

Warm Wishes, 
Roseann Pascale, M.S., LMFT

Online marriage counseling new york florida online couples therapist

Roseann Pascale, M.A., LMFT is an empathetic and intuitive couples counselor, therapist and coach. Through authentic connection and a down to earth demeanor, Roseann can guide you in developing clarity and cultivating well-being. Using the practices of mindfulness and values-driven action, she helps individuals and couples overcome their challenges and create fulfillment in all aspects of life.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Coping With Job Loss

Coping With Job Loss

Coping With Job Loss

Unexpected Job Loss

As of March, 18th 2020 the US government officials are concerned that due to COVID-19 US unemployment could reach 20%. State unemployment websites have crashed as applications surge, leaving job seekers coping with job loss amidst a sea of questions.

Unexpected job loss is something many Americans are either currently experiencing or are concerned with.

If you recently lost your job, you are not alone. This is happening to many people in the US and globally. After losing your job your mind might go immediately to main concerns like loss of finances and security. This is understandable. I encourage you while balancing serious concerns, to also be open to finding some perspective in this experience. It is possible for you to successfully manage this sensitive time in your life.

As an Online Career Counselor & Coach, I work often with people who unexpectedly find themselves jobless and feeling like their world has just been turned upside-down. When you suddenly lose employment you can start to question everything that you felt secure in previously. If these negative thoughts are left unmanaged, you could suffer long-term issues of self-image, confidence, hypervigilance, and increased anxiety.

For those who find themselves jobless, you are not doomed to a life of suffering. Instead, you actually have a lot of power in this experience, but you have to be willing to use it. You can recover and more importantly, you can thrive again.

How to Cope with Unexpected Job Loss

Slow Down and Process the Emotions

“A Plan B life can be just as good or better than a Plan A life.” – Shannon Alder

So much of coping with an unexpected job loss is letting go of what we thought our life was supposed to look like. We plan our lives based around the ideals of a career, and when we lose this pillar in our life we can feel lost.

It’s okay to feel disappointed, stunned, sad, and confused. This is completely normal. Life rarely goes according to plan, even when we really want it to. Allow yourself time to grieve this loss. That’s healthy. What’s not healthy is allowing the loss to overcome you; to turn job loss into a broader statement around who you are as a person.

By giving yourself time to process the feelings of loss and understanding your anxieties, you can open yourself up to being more honest with all of your feelings. Instead of feeling only fear and anxiety about your job loss, you can start opening up to seeing the bigger picture. 

This job loss might have had nothing to do with you, rather it was an outcome of economics, poor management, or a million other reasons. The main point here is to be honest in how you are evaluating your circumstances.

If there is something you think you could have done to improve – be honest with yourself. If there is something you had no control over – be honest about that too. Giving yourself compassion with your emotional experience is an important part of building trust within yourself.

Create a Timeline, Prepare, and Adjust Behaviorally

If I could give you one piece of advice – it would be: take a couple of days off. Take time away from ruminating about what happened or what your next steps are going to be. Slow down for a moment in time before you collect yourself to get back on your journey. This would be a perfect time to take a rest stop.

This can be hard for some who define themselves by their career. You can feel a strong urge to attach yourself to a new job as soon as possible. But making rash decisions due to anxiety can impact your career longer-term. Not only could you find yourself in a career path that you don’t enjoy, but you’ll also be enforcing the concept that you don’t have control in your career. Rather, you are making decisions based on fears. This will keep you functioning at your lowest level – survival.

After you take a break, ground yourself in your timeline. Ask yourself how you can best position yourself to get through this career rut, as well as how to launch yourself into your successful career future. This might mean you take time to fully evaluate your current career path. What are you willing to change? What are you not willing to compromise in your career?

Lastly, be an informed worker. Take a look at Occupational Outlook Handbook website. This website offers information on most careers and is an invaluable resource when researching aspects of a career including salary ranges, educational experience required, and details of what to expect on the job.

If you need more support you can also work with a Career Coach who will guide you through your experiences and interests to help you find a career path you feel most aligns with who you see yourself as.

Check-in Mentally, Encourage an Empowered Mindset

If there is one thing we could all probably agree on, it’s that things change. And if there’s one thing I know as a Licensed Professional Counselor, it’s that people don’t like change. 

When change occurs, especially when we don’t have control over it, we can feel resistant to accepting the new norms. The longer we take to accept the reality of change, the longer we stay stuck. If you can accept that things are no longer going back to the way they were, the quicker you can make adaptations to prepare yourself for your future.

One way to do this is by checking in with the way in which you are framing the situation in your head (aka your self-talk). If your self-talk is repeatedly framing your situation in a disempowered/resistant mindset – you most likely will stay trapped in the resistance, making movements forward feel extremely difficult.

I invite you to allow yourself to be empowered while jobless. Try to reframe your thoughts to be surrounded around opportunity and new chances rather than fears as you begin coping with job loss.

For instance, a disempowered/resistant mindset looks like this:

“What’s the point of looking for something, no one’s hiring.”

By listening to this thought, you are choosing to believe that anything new is not sufficient. The new norm could never be as good as the past.

A healthy, empowered mindset looks like this:

“I’m going to see what opportunities are out there for me. I’m not sure what’s out there but if there is something, it will be me who finds it.”

By choosing to take the empowered approach you are being honest about what you don’t know yet and what you are willing to do to figure out how to adapt. It’s not overly optimistic or pessimistic – rather it’s based in reality and your will to try and find your way in unknown territory.

Know This…

You are not alone. There is no need to feel shame. You can recover.

Wishing you success,
Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life, your relationships, and your career. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, find clarity and direction, and actualize your life’s purpose.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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How to Harness a Strengths-Based Approach to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

How to Harness a Strengths-Based Approach to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

How to Harness a Strengths-Based Approach to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

Using The Strengths-Based Approach

The start of a new year can be full of hope and promise, and the idea of starting over — particularly in a new decade — can fill some with excitement and others with dread. If you’ve ever experienced the act of overpromising to yourself and underdelivering on your goals, you’re certainly not alone.

While New Year’s resolutions are intended to motivate us and improve our lives, they can also make us focus on all the things we are not. Let’s face it, eating healthier, losing 15 pounds, joining a book club, going back to school, and having a REAL savings account (Hello new home, 2025!) sure sounds exciting but how do you actually do it all? Is it even possible to start chasing after new goals with your already busy work/social/family life schedule?

The thing is, we often wait and wait and wait to get started on our goals or give up early on our New Year’s resolutions because we get lost focusing on what we consider to be our “downfalls”. We hinder our progress before even starting. 

I have some good news for you today. This year, 2020, is YOUR year. Here’s why! In my work as a life coach and individual therapist, I like to take a Strengths-Based Approach to help my clients reach their personal goals and I’m sharing it with you today! In this article I am going to be talking about:

  1. What is the Strengths-Based Approach?
  2. Why is the Strengths-Based Approach successful time and time again?
  3. Who is the Strengths-Based Approach For (hint: YOU! And here’s why…)?
  4. How you can start using the Strengths-Based Approach today, and practical tips for getting started!

Everything You Need To Know About The Strengths-Based Approach

What is the Strengths-Based Approach?

Focusing on one’s strengths falls under the Positive Psychology umbrella, and essentially entails focusing on your internal strengths and resourcefulness. This inherently begins building a more positive mindset and can help increase resilience.

How often do you sit and think of your positive qualities? In the hustle and bustle of daily life, my guess is…NEVER. Our brains are wired to watch out for danger and to identify patterns, and our brains tend to pay more attention to negative information than positive information. We might not notice every time we do something successfully, but we sure do notice if we mess up. 

Many people might feel like focusing on your good qualities is being self-centered or arrogant, but I’m going to call BS on that one. It is extremely important to be able to articulate what we like about ourselves. This is a key component of self-worth and self-love, and is something we are pushed to think about as children but not as much as adults. 

Here is where the Strength-Based Approach comes into play. Thinking about our strengths involves considering what we are good at or what is already going well in our lives.

I like using a Strengths-Based Approach with my coaching and therapy clients because it starts a dialogue around how we feel about ourselves and our self-esteem. If you find yourself struggling to think of anything you do well or like about yourself, this is a huge indication that your self-esteem is in need of a tune-up. Focusing on the positive aspects of ourselves has the potential to be transformational, starting with how we feel about ourselves. 

Why is the Strengths-Based Approach Successful Time and Time Again?

When we are solely focused on the ‘problem’ or what we want to change, we can self-sabotage ourselves by failing to recognize what we are already good at, and how that can help us! 

Every time we remind ourselves of our good qualities and the ways we feel we excel, we get a little boost of those feel-good hormones and brain reactions. It sounds simple, but it’s true. Being positive and focusing on the good can make us happier. Focusing on what is going wrong or on our negative qualities can make change seem impossible and overwhelming. Instead, start focusing on your inner strengths, resourcefulness, and resilience. This way of thinking can create hope and confidence to push on, especially when the going gets tough. Another reason the Strengths-Based Approach is successful is because it can generate long-standing change in how you think about yourself, others, and life events. Looking for the positives and strengths within yourself and others turns into a habit, and eventually won’t need conscious effort.

Focusing on your strengths is about cultivating a positive mindset, and recognizing the resources and resilience you already possess within. Honing in on what you do well can open up possibilities and new strategies that may never have occurred to you if you’re steeped in ‘the problem’, and can open your mind to creative new solutions to try.

Creating a more positive mindset can empower you to push through the difficult times, and even increase your confidence. This occurs as a key part of the Strengths-Based Approach in the idea of resilience, or being able to “bounce back” from difficult times. Resilience also includes being able to overcome obstacles and cope with them, and realizing your own resilience that you possess is extremely powerful. 

You might not believe that you are a resilient person, but you absolutely are and I have proof! You have survived and made it through the difficulties of life thus far. You are here. Now take a moment to reflect on how you did that. Were you able to handle stress well to see a problem through? Were you able to access resources or help from family and friends? Maybe it was your drive and determination that helped you get through those long hours at work and school without giving up. Either way, this aspect of your strengths is essential for building up self-esteem and confidence.

Utilizing your strengths can better connect you to your identity and remind you of who you are, while also building up your self-worth. 

Realizing your self-worth and recognizing your strengths helps your relationships too, such as through enforcing boundaries when needed and helping others realize their strengths as well.

Who is the Strengths-Based Approach For (hint: YOU! And here’s why…)?

Whether your goal is to create healthier habits, improve your relationships, or move up in your job, your strengths can help you get there! No matter the goal and even if your strengths don’t seem related to it, it is all connected and the common denominator here is you.

Since a common New Year’s resolution is weight loss, let’s use that as an example to see how this approach works. If someone feels that a strength of theirs is being kind, we can use that to help them be successful in their weight loss goals. I know what you’re thinking, how can being nice or kind help someone lose weight? Well first, what is being kind? A part of it is being nice, but other parts of kindness might be being considerate, thoughtful, and supportive. 

Instead of using negative self-talk to bully oneself into not eating certain foods or using other “punishing” tactics, why not use kindness to lift yourself up? Kindness in this scenario might be giving yourself grace or compassion if you slip up, but also setting yourself up for success through creating realistic expectations for yourself

Setting yourself up for success might be meal planning for the week, preparing healthy meals or snacks before the work week starts, and going to bed at a reasonable time so you have energy to exercise. You wouldn’t expect someone to jump into a new task without proper preparation and do it perfectly, so why put that on yourself?

Kindness might be having daily mantras of gratitude for how hard our body works and what it does for us every day, and letting that guide our thoughts and behaviors rather than focusing on what our body isn’t or what we want it to be. Kindness could be changing our view on food and nourishment, and wanting to be kind to our bodies through nourishing it with the food it needs and is good for us. 

How you can start using the Strengths-Based Approach today, and practical tips for getting started!

Okay dear reader, here is my advice to you on how to get started harnessing your strengths for success in the New Year! 

Start by sitting with a notepad and paper, and really think a minute about the things you love and value about yourself. Think about the things that have helped you in life thus far, what you think is a strength and sets you apart from others. Write these things down, and then also write out a goal. If you have multiple goals, do one at a time so as not to overwhelm yourself. 

Now look at your strengths and goal together and see where there is overlap, and put your creative thinking cap on to see how you can use your strengths to help you reach that goal! 

If one of your strengths is being friendly and you want to advance in your career, consider reaching out to a mentor or supervisor about grabbing lunch or offer to buy them a coffee to pick their brain about an idea you have. Connect with this person and tell them about your goal, and how you would appreciate some extra support from them in that. I think you see where I am going with this, and the goal and strength combos could be endless. Don’t be afraid to be creative, as you possess the tools and power to create the life that you want! 

Five Practical Tips to the Strengths-Based Approach

#1 Make a gratitude list of things you are grateful for about yourself

#2 Start practicing self-compassion

#3 Set yourself up for success: create a plan, write it down, and leave it somewhere you can see it

#4 Create realistic expectations

#5 When you slip up (yes I said when, because it is only a matter of time before we slip up or miss a goal and that is OKAY people) do not engage in negative self-talk, and remember all the things you successfully did that day or week. There will be times we slip up, the point is to not let that make us give up but to keep going.

Here’s to a happy and successful new year!
Josephine Marin M.S., MFTC

 

 

Josephine Marin, M.S., MFTC is a warm, kind, and direct therapist and couples counselor who specializes in communication, compassion and connection. She can help you reach your goals and create positive change in yourself and your relationships.

Let’s  Talk

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