I had the privilege to step in as a co-facilitator of our women’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) group. I was excited to participate because we teach what we need to learn, so facilitating the group would help me learn the skills better and internalize them after going through the training. These DBT skills are so neat – almost spiritual to me as they offer real tools for our daily living to help us step into managing life so much better and being the best we can be.
The day I was to participate in my first group was a day that several significant events happened that were difficult for me. I found myself trying to stay mindful (another DBT skill) throughout the day so that I would be present and not distracted by the events that were playing out. Staying mindful allowed me to be in the moment and not create more stress by adding the past event of the morning to my stress level by replaying it, nor adding the future fear to be loaded into the moment. Rather, I would be present in my moment. Those that have read my book, Finding the Peace, know that mindfulness is something that I learned to practice years ago and continue to make that my goal on a moment by moment basis. Life is so much less heavy if we can be mindful of our moments and stay present in the here and now.
Another big lesson for me in my own life journey has been to realize how to take myself out of suffering. It came from the realization that suffering comes from wishing something were different, or wishing I could go back, or being caught up in the future with fear. Suffering is when we can’t accept the pain and we can’t move on. Suffering is when pain is denied, avoided or renounced.
Arriving to co-facilitate the group that evening was synchronistic as the skill we were to teach was Radical Acceptance. With humor, I had to think it was a cosmic joke, “What, radical acceptance?” Radical means to totally and completely accept what is. You accept it in your mind, your heart, your body and even in your soul. As the group progressed, we taught the skill. So the first step to implementing Radical Acceptance is accepting that reality is what it is. Fighting it, asking why, struggling with understanding it was not going to change the problem. If there was a problem to solve, I could step into that action. The second step to Radical Acceptance is accepting that the event or situation causing pain is in your life for a reason, that there are no accidents and what is coming into your life at this moment will benefit you through your own growth as a result of this situation. And the final step is to just accept it. RADICALLY ACCEPT IT. Actually you do have one other final alternative: you can choose not to accept it. You can enter into suffering.
So you have choices: solve the problem, change how you feel about the problem, accept it, or stay miserable. Life happens. There is no way out of it. Life has good moments and difficult moments. We can ride the wave of the moment or we can learn how to manage the moments in a way that will make life more manageable and more joyful, staying centered and grounded as we move through the ups and downs of the day. As I fell into bed that night, my heart was light and I knew that I had been given another opportunity to practice managing life’s moments in the best way possible.
Tags: Radical Acceptance, we have choices change our thinking or be miserable
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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