Practicing Radical Acceptance

Often, when painful experiences occur, we have no control over the situation, people’s behaviors, or the reality of what is happening. When we practice radical acceptance, we can better evaluate situations and work to reduce the emotional burden of emotions such as resentment, anger, hatred, or shame. Use this sheet to help practice radical acceptance.

This worksheet comes from Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month 2021 Toolkit

Below is a sample version of the activity from the worksheet. Try it out.

What’s bothering you? Take a minute to write it down.

Understanding Reality

These questions will help you to better understand the reality of what you are experiencing:

  1. Is there something that you’ve written down that is a reality you have to accept rather than a judgement or opinion?
  2. Sit with the reality of what has occurred. For example: “This is what happened. The past can’t change. It is what it is.”
  3. What happened? What events led to this reality occuring? (“This is how things happened.”)

Accepting Reality

These questions will help you to accept the reality you’ve been fighting against:

  1. Can you accept this reality in your thoughts? Imagine what it feels like to accept it. What can you tell yourself to help with acceptance?
  2. Imagine how the world would feel if you could let go and accept this reality. How would you change your behaviors or actions?
  3. Are you carrying that weight in your shoulders or back, or are you experiencing tension and physical pain? Can you accept this reality not only in your mind, but in your body as well? Practice pinpointing that tension and releasing it from your body.
  4. Sit with and acknowledge any feelings of disappointment, sadness, or grief. Write down anything specific you notice about these thoughts and feelings, and understand that it’s ok and expected to experience them.
  5. Despite these negative experiences, there are always positives. What makes life worth living? Write down what you come up with to remind yourself.
  6. If you find yourself still struggling, write down some pros and cons of accepting or not accepting these realities. Begin at Step 1 again if you find yourself in another troubling situation.

Accept reality and change your response to a more positive one. Accepting reality can make a major impact in how you deal with life’s challenges.

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