What is radical acceptance? The other day one of my best friends said in a chat group, “People really need to learn to radically accept their disabilities.” This prompted another person to say something about not having heard of it, which confused us because our whole chat was a bunch of people who radically accepted they were disabled. Some of us were doing so, it seems, with no idea what the word for it was.
It is great to practice radical acceptance whether or not you know what it is. I came about radical acceptance rather recently myself. I spent much of my life praying to God that he’d cure me of my disabilities. I went to healing sessions, had a deliverance, and rejected the idea that this would be my life. Then my son was born and as I learned to accept his struggles I realised they were the same as my own.
So, what is “radical acceptance?” It is embracing what happens, even if you dislike it. I am sure most of my fellow alcoholics remember the serenity prayer. It goes as such: “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 just for today.”
While I have known the serenity prayer for most of my life, I did not heed it. I kept fighting upstream to change things I could not change. I fought so hard to change so many things I hated about myself. My moods, my weight, my pain, my personality, and while some things I sought to change because they would bring me closer to myself, others I sought to change to fit in with other people. I fought against my identity to be like everyone else. Cis, straight, neurotypical and abled. The problem was I could not change being who I was, and I was not accepting that I could not change it.
I wrote once about my spiritual journey with the “Shadow Self.” The “Shadow Self” is an image of all we are that we reject. It is often things we view as our negative traits. I meditated and faced my shadows back in 2010 after I came out and quit drinking. As the poet Rumi said best, I greeted my dark thoughts with laughter.
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.” And while I still did not know what radical acceptance was, this act was the start of changing my life for the better.
When we accept we cannot change our personalities, our disabilities, and our neurotypes, we can embrace ourselves and solve the problems in our lives. Acceptance does not always mean we like or love the things we struggle with, but it means we are less likely to force ourselves through the day and accommodate ourselves better. In true fashion, only by accepting what we cannot change are we able to see changes.
I no longer stress that I cannot handle light. I no longer force myself to make phone calls. I no longer push myself if I am tired. I sleep when I need to sleep. I eat if I am hungry and if I am in pain; I accept that this is something that I cannot handle on my own. I challenge you today to go out and practice radical acceptance.