Melanie Alford, MSW MPH LICSW 

Manzanita Therapy, LLC

Individual and Couples Therapy

My Blog


Radical Acceptance

Posted on May 30, 2013 at 7:29 PM Comments comments (226)
I'm reading the most beautiful book right now.  A book that has the ability to transform its readers.  It's called Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach, PhD.  

The premise is simple: What would our lives look like if we accepted ourselves? Really accepted ourselves, warts and all?  What if we realized, when that acceptance happened, that the warts weren't actually there to begin with?  What would it look like to treat ourselves with the same kindness and love that we treat our partners, our families, our friends?  What would our lives look like?  Who would we be? 

Try to remember an incident recently when you engaged in a behavior or thought pattern that you did not like.  Did it bring up an emotion for you? Guilt, shame, regret?  Did you say to yourself that you should not have done x, y, or z?  There is a famous Buddhist proverb which goes like this: “The Buddha once asked a student, 'If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?' The student replied, 'It is. 'The Buddha then asked, 'If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?' The student replied again, 'It is.' The Buddha then explained, 'In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.'  

Simply put, radical acceptance is revolutionary.  It is the the evolution of our spirit if we allow the possibility that it can be attained.  It is the acceptance that our behavioral and thought patterns have allowed us to survive to this point, and the recognition that things can be different.  It is the removal of the second arrow, the arrow of shame, guilt, remorse, and self-loathing.  And in that removal of the second arrow, it frees our spirit to remove the first. 

Of course, no one can sum up the tenants of radical acceptance better than Rumi:  “This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor...Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”