The Radical Acceptance of Everything: Living A Focusing Life

How can you bring peace to the inner wars that are in the way of having the life you want?

I’ve spent most of my life teaching, exploring, and writing about the mysteries of emotional process, including:

Ann Weiser Cornell

  • The paradox of how we become more whole by acknowledging our parts
  • How the most despised places in us contain our greatest treasure
  • How the body’s felt sense, held in a compassionate state of Presence, is the key to change

In The Radical Acceptance of Everything, I’ve compiled key writings from over the course of three decades. 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 pain and struggle 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.

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

What you’ll gain from this book:

  • A road map of what it means to live a Focusing life.
  • Clear, specific examples of what an inner relationship can look like as a conversation unfolds between you, as Self-in Presence, and a “something in you” that needs your Presence.
  • An understanding of how some aspects of our experience get exiled and why it’s so important to invite them back in again.
  • An inside look at the “third way” that is so essential to Focusing – a way where you are neither identifying nor dissociating from your emotional experiences

This Book is for You If:

  • You’re involved in your own emotional healing and wanting more radical self-acceptance in your life.
  • You want to go deeper into the remarkable process of Focusing or add to your understanding of Focusing if you’re new to it.
  • You’re a Focusing teacher interested in how you can be facilitative to the wonderful variety of people you encounter while remaining true to yourself.


About Your Guide

Ann Weiser Cornell struggled with addiction, social anxiety, and an inability to do one of the things she most wanted to do – write. Ann created Inner Relationship Focusing with her long-time colleague, Barbara McGavin, to help alleviate the thinking and feeling cycles that kept her stuck in hard places. It changed her life, and it became her mission to help others create quiet miracles in their lives too.

For over 35 years now, Ann’s been teaching this practical, revolutionary process to people all over the world. With her The Radical Acceptance of Everything book, you get the benefit of Ann’s expertise and the development of her Focusing philosophy over the course of many years so you can discover or deepen your understanding of the simple, yet powerful process of Focusing.

About the Four Newer Articles

Facilitating Presence

If you are a psychotherapist or anyone who works with clients, did you know that you can facilitate your client to be more emotionally regulated using gentle unintrusive prompts, even in their very first session? This article includes partial transcripts from two facilitated Focusing sessions, emphasizing the actual language I used to help the client move away from being overwhelmed by a feeling state and yet stay in contact with it. By giving caring attention to emotional states, clients can even begin to heal attachment wounds by giving themselves the missing experience of loving acceptance.

A version of this article appeared in the Psychotherapy Networker Nov/Dec 2005 under the title “Introduction to Presence: Focusing helps clients embrace their most feared emotions.”

Radical Gentleness; The Inner Critic Transforms

The “inner critic” is a part of you that seems to hate you, or judge you, or think you need to be shaped up in order to be OK. Shaming and self-blaming are tools of the inner critic, and so are constrictions in the throat, head, shoulders, etc. This article sets out the revolutionary approach to transforming the inner critic that Barbara McGavin and I developed while working with really difficult life issues. Includes the Three Secrets of the Inner Critic… why we don’t recommend calling it “inner critic” and what we call it instead… and how really harsh inner critics are different.

The Origins and Development of Inner Relationship Focusing

How did Inner Relationship Focusing grow out of standard Focusing? I’ve been asked that question so many times… and the story of how it happened is the story of how my Focusing clients taught me what they actually needed instead of what I thought they needed. Included: the origin of “Leading In” as a way to start the session; the increasing problems with and eventual abandonment of “Clearing a Space”; the invention of phrases like, “See if it is OK to just be with that” and “You might let it know you hear it”; how the emphasis on the inner relationship leads to a Focusing-oriented type of parts work.

Body? What Body?

One of the greatest challenges to people in learning and doing Focusing is the definition of the concept of “body.” In this article I take on that concept squarely, bringing together over 30 years of experience (at that time) with helping all types of people do Focusing. Why is the definition of the word “body” a barrier to Focusing? Do people who get images easily or get body sensations easily have a different road into Focusing than people who approach it “from the head”? In the article I describe four imaginary people: René, a “thinker,” Camille, an “emoter,” Imogen, an “imager,” and a fourth category, “physicalizers,” showing how each type of person has a different, legitimate avenue into Focusing.

If you’ve wondered what a Focusing life could look like, The Radical Acceptance of Everything lays out the roadmap. Start your journey today…


The Radical Acceptance of Everything

The Radical Acceptance of Everything


by Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD
and featuring Barbara McGavin
(Calluna Press; 2005)

How can we bring peace to the inner wars that are in the way of having the life we want?

For more than 30 years, Ann Weiser Cornell has been exploring, teaching, and writing about the mysteries of emotional process, including the paradox of how we become more whole by acknowledging our parts, how the most despised places in us contain our greatest treasure, and how the body’s felt sense, held in a compassionate state of Presence, is the key to change.

Now her key writings have been brought together in one place, freshly edited for this volume, with four new articles offering Ann’s latest leading edge work. All are accessible to both the seeker of personal change and the professional who wants to be more effective working with others.

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Table of Contents


The Radical Acceptance of Everything

What is Focusing?

Three Key Aspects of Focusing

How I Met Focusing

I Am in Pain….

The Radical Acceptance of Everything

Facilitating Presence

The “Victim,” the “Critic” and the Inner Relationship: Focusing with the Part that Wants to Die

Treasure Maps to the Soul

The Treasure Maps Story So Far

Standing It

The Dog Story

Releasing Blocks to Action with Focusing

Radical Gentleness; The Inner Critic Transforms

Focusing Partnership

Safe Focusing with (Almost) Any Partner

The Perils of Focusing Partnership

The Art of Facilitative Language

The Power of Listening

Focusing with a Family Member with Lung Cancer

Questioning Questions

For Focusing Teachers

The Difference Between Focusing and Therapy

The Origins and Development of Inner Relationship Focusing

Relationship = Distance + Connection

Body? What Body?

The Full Felt Sense

Focusing on Childhood

The Last Word

Five Reasons Why Focusing is Not Better Known (Yet)

What People Are Saying about The Radical Acceptance of Everything

“Ann Weiser Cornell has been teaching for many years in many countries and is well known worldwide. In her previous book and her manuals she has created new specific and accessible instructions for Focusing as well as for the teachers of Focusing. In person and through her students and writings she has given Focusing to far more people than any other single individual. She is a powerful force in making the world better. She has gone on to create different new processes in new dimensions, which are included in this book.”

— Eugene Gendlin, author of Focusing

“No one teaches or explains Focusing with more beauty, grace or clarity than Ann Weiser Cornell. The Radical Acceptance of Everything does more than explain profound concepts simply and beautifully: from the very first page, it invokes the very state of Presence that it describes. Whether you are a beginning Focuser or have been Focusing for years, The Radical Acceptance of Everything is sure to deepen and enrich your Focusing experience.”

— Helene G. Brenner, author of I Know I’m in There Somewhere

Richard Schwartz

“I have always had a lot of respect for Focusing but saw a gap between it and Internal FamilySystems in terms of appreciation of the multiplicity of the mind and qualities of Self. In this intriguing collection of articles, Ann Weiser Cornell describes in a very personal and readable way her groundbreaking journey with her colleague Barbara McGavin that narrows the gap. I endorse their resulting approach heartily and embrace them as kindred spirits on this road toward the radical acceptance of everything.”

— Richard Schwartz, author of Internal Family Systems Therapy

“This book, The Radical Acceptance of Everything, has done more for me than I can put into words. I knew nothing about Focusing and it still was a life-changing experience just reading it. It was the emotional mental shift in perspective I needed.”

— Joshua Fairfield, energy healer, Las Vegas NV

Translations Available


La Aceptación Radical de TodoLa Aceptacion Radical de Todo front cover

Purchase the Spanish translation of The Radical Acceptance of Everything directly from Focusing Resources, as a PDF file.

$23.95 (Digital Download PDF)




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