Oct 24th 2023
A cornerstone of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is radical acceptance, which is a therapeutic technique that can help individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) better cope with emotional dysregulation.
Emotional instability, a distorted sense of perception, and impulsive behavior are all symptoms that sufferers of BPD contend with. 
Part of maturing as a human is learning to cope with the different aspects of life as they crop up – good and bad. People with BPD struggle to comprehend the realities of their lives, often feeling intense bouts of negative emotions, harboring deeply upsetting thoughts and a diminished sense of self-worth. 
Through the practice of radical acceptance, sufferers can regulate their emotions and face the trials of everyday life, despite their instinct to run from perceived pain and other uncomfortable feelings.
Radical acceptance encourages people to accept that reality is what it is – you do not need to work to alter it. 
Accepting the present is necessary for changing the future; if we do not take this first step, we may quickly feel overwhelmed and struggle to create the positive outcomes we desire. 
Our futures are shaped by factors that have occurred in our lives, other people’s lives, and the environment that connects us. If we do not address the factors that affect us, we cannot change our realities. 
For example, imagine that a man breaks his leg in a soccer match as a result of a dangerous tackle by an opponent. The man loves sports and outdoor hobbies. He did nothing wrong but is now faced with 6 months of rehabilitation, a hefty medical bill, and a stretch of time without his favorite activities in life.
It is crucial that he accepts that this is his reality. Without that acceptance, he will not adapt to his current situation and do the physiotherapy required to heal. If he wallows in the injustice of the situation or withdraws from life, he will not achieve the outcomes that benefit him long-term.
This man may feel devastated, sorrowful, and helpless. But he has a choice – to wallow and withdraw or to accept his new reality and figure out how to live a life worth living whilst rehabbing from his injury.
To get a grip on his life he has to accept that he can come through this situation and build a better life for himself – that life is worth living even when it contains pain.  This is a central tenet of radical acceptance.
Radical acceptance is purely about accepting your reality. Only then can you change your reality. Pain cannot be avoided and if you reject reality – you will cause yourself more pain. Accepting reality, however, can bring freedom. Managing painful situations, instead of rejecting them, can limit suffering. 
People with BPD experience intense reactions to challenging situations. They struggle to accept reality and may shut down if they feel circumstances are not in their favor. This can lead to intense anguish, distressing thoughts, and harmful behaviors.
Radical Acceptance encourages people with BPD to accept reality without suffering – to take life in their stride by accepting the facts of life. Below are some steps people with BPD can take to embrace radical acceptance:
Remember that radical acceptance is a lifelong process, and it may not make the situation itself easier, but it can help you cope with it more effectively and reduce unnecessary suffering caused by resistance and judgment. It's a valuable skill to cultivate for emotional well-being and personal growth.
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