9 Ways to radical acceptance of situations beyond your control 

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

A newish buzz phrase, Radical Acceptance, is where we accept situations that are beyond our control without making worrying judgement calls on them.  This helps reduce the suffering and pain caused by those situations.  Acceptance is the positive change in both thought and behaviour.

Psychologies Jo Hemmings explained this new way of thinking that allows you to embrace a way to let got and move on, for your ultimate health and wellbeing, in an article in Platinum Magazine.

The idea of radical acceptance is based on a Buddhist philosophy that our attachment, experiences and interpretation of pain is what causes us suffering. It suggests non-attachment to overcoming suffering. That’s not to say you should not feel the feelings, but the intention is to not allow the pain to turn into suffering.  This means being mindful about your thoughts and feelings and identifying when you are allowing yourself to feel worse than necessary.

Being non-judgemental is a key element of radical acceptance.  It does not involve approval or agreement with the situation but understanding the reality of what you can’t change and not getting caught up in an emotional reaction.

It is usually applied when you are unable to change what is happening or to influence the outcome.  You don’t have to agree with what’s going on, but you do need to help yourself take a step back and accept things as they are.  It can take some practice if it’s not something you’re used to. It’s normal to feel negative emotions from time to time. 

The article suggested nine coping mechanisms for radical acceptance:

  1. I will get through this no matter what
  2. I will survive and this feeling will fade, even though this feels painful right now
  3. What I’m going through right now is touch but it will pass
  4. It’s possible for me to feel anxiety but still manage this situation in an effective way
  5. It’s possible for me to accept what happened and still end up happy
  6. I don’t understand why this happened, but ~I can accept that it did
  7. When I remain rational, I am better able to make good choices and solve problems
  8. It’s better to take the right actions than keep judging or blaming
  9. It’s best to stay mindful and focus on what needs to happen in the moment

Not all situations are suitable for radical acceptance, like being in a toxic or abusive relationship or where you’re being treated badly. But like any skill, the more you practice the easier it becomes to recognise the times where it could be appropriate. It has nothing to do with being passive or giving up.

Some practical tips on how to apply radical acceptance include:

  • Reminding yourself that certain aspects of reality can’t be changed
  • Practicing a feeling of acceptance through relaxation techniques and self-affirmations
  • Accepting that life can be worthwhile even when you’re experiencing pain and identifying events in your life that you are having a hard time accepting
  • Making a plan of action
  • Creating coping mechanisms to help you through difficult times
  • Accepting things as they are instead of how you want them to be
  • Understanding what is within your control and what is outside of your control
  • Seeing yourself as an observer rather than a participant
  • Allowing yourself to let go of the need to control situations
  • Focussing on your rational mind instead of catastrophic thinking
  • Allowing yourself to be flawed and make mistakes
  • Forgiving yourself, but also learning to move on and accept responsibility
  • Allowing yourself to stop thinking about how things could have been
  • Looking for patterns in your negative thoughts

“Give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace” – Reinhold Niebuhr


One thought on “9 Ways to radical acceptance of situations beyond your control 

  1. Grant me a vacation to make bearable what I can’t change, a friend to make it funny and the wisdom to no get my knickers in a knot because it only makes me walk funny 😄


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