Everyone in the mental health community is applauding Marsha Lineham for her brave revelation that she, herself, used to have BPD, and that she created her Dialectical Behavior Therapy in large part as an answer to her own needs.
Radical Acceptance is an important component of DBT. It means accepting oneself and accepting all of one’s emotions, even the powerful, painful, terrifying ones.
It’s not the same as being helpless and resigned to one’s negative feelings. Radical Acceptance says that Step One is facing emotions, experiencing them, seeing them clearly and thereby gaining perspective.
I’ve been thinking that Radical Acceptance of the person who hurt you, is an important element in forgiveness.
Radical Acceptance would mean seeing this person for who and what they are. Acknowledging their features, both negative and positive. Refusing to vilify them, and also refusing to put them on a pedestal. Stripping away expectations we may have imposed on them, and looking clearly at Who They Are, while letting go of Who We Wanted Them To Be.
This sort of Radical Acceptance would not mean signing on for more hurt. Nor would it mean condoning the past betrayal.
Instead, it would be clarifying and therefore empowering.
By Radically Accepting the person who hurt us, we might then be able to move forward with a clear and realistic picture of what to expect from them, how and when to trust them, how to judge which needs to look to them for, and which of our needs we ought to satisfy elsewhere.
[photo of clear ocean water at the Cape this weekend]
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Last reviewed: 29 Jul 2011