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Focusing Tip #584 – “Isn’t radical acceptance for everything in this world tantamount to allowing evil and cruel acts to occur?”

Michelle writes:

I have another question about radical acceptance. I have a part that believes that having radical acceptance for everything in this world is tantamount to allowing evil and cruel acts to occur. Can you help me with this?

Dear Michelle:

I would agree with you that there are many evil and cruel acts taking place in the world. When we feel outrage and sadness and even hopelessness in the face of all that, our feelings are understandable. Let’s accept and turn toward our own feelings… and then sense what would be right to do, and who we would like to join with, to do it.

So I’m not saying you need to accept events, actions, behaviors, trends of history, etc. My recommendation for radical acceptance refers to feeling states, not actions. Especially if the feeling states are your own. Your emotional healing starts with the radical acceptance of your own feelings.

Even accepting your own feelings does not imply that you would take the actions that your parts are demanding.

Feelings and actions need to be separate.

When I did Focusing with my addiction to alcohol (which is one of the threads that led to Barbara McGavin and me creating Treasure Maps to the Soul), I spent a lot of time with the part of me that wanted to drink too much.

I said to that part of me: “I really hear you want to drink and be drunk. And I’d like to get to know what you want for me from drinking.”

I heard with empathy the craving of this part of me. But I did not take the action.

When I could listen to what that part of me wanted for me from drinking, then something really new could happen. My life opened up into much more creativity, spontaneity, and fun. And the desire to drink slowly faded.

Acceptance is not the end, it’s the beginning of listening, of understanding, of listening more deeply. Then the body’s own right change emerges.


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