“I find it hard to have radical acceptance for myself.”

“I find it hard to have radical acceptance for myself.”
November 1, 2017 Ann Weiser Cornell
It's hard for me to have radical acceptance for myself

Focusing Tip #583 – “There is often an internal struggle in me where one part is saying ‘OK, we have to have radical acceptance of all parts of us…’.”


Michelle writes:

I’m wondering if you can clarify something for me. You often talk about the importance of “radical acceptance” especially within the context of Focusing. I like the idea, but often have a hard time putting it into practice with my own Focusing. There is often an internal struggle in me where one part is saying “OK, we have to have radical acceptance of all parts of us,” and another part that simply wants to “fix” the parts that are in pain. I’m wondering if you can clarify?

Dear Michelle:

I have to smile at the way “protector” parts can pick up any good idea and make it into a “have to.” They are trying to help… but they don’t!

Do you see that the part of you that says “OK, we have to have radical acceptance of all parts of us” is not being accepting of the other part?

Here’s what I would say:

  • It’s OK that there is a part of you that wants to fix the parts that are in pain.
  • And it’s OK that there is a part of you that wants to change that part by talking it into “radical acceptance.”
  • AND it’s OK that there are parts in pain.

As you turn to each of these parts and say, “Hello, I know you are there,” not trying to change or fix any of them, you grow stronger in your Self-in-Presence.

There’s an interesting double meaning to the idea of “acceptance.” Sometimes that word is used with a connotation of “resignation” or “giving up on anything ever changing.” Then no wonder there’s an inner conflict!

I like remembering that when I accept what is here right now, and give it space to be exactly as it is, it is more likely to change.

Carl Rogers wrote: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.”

The paradox resolves for me when I remember that I am not accepting a fixed state, but rather a process. I accept it how it is, and how it is becoming. (And I do my best to give myself that same acceptance.)

Want more radical acceptance?

I set out to create a book that identified some of the ways we get lost in inner wars and how we can cultivate radical self-acceptance to bring peace to the places that ache inside. I wanted it to be accessible to both the seeker of personal change and the professional who wants to be more effective working with others, and I think I succeeded. The Radical Acceptance of Everything has something for you if:

  • You’d like to deepen your understanding of Focusing
  • You’re looking to cultivate more self-compassion
  • You’d like to fine-tune your skills with facilitative language
  • You’re a teacher wanting to explore new ways of talking or thinking about Focusing

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