Radical Self-acceptance.

And how to get some.

Radical self-acceptance is a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot these days.  I heard it today when I went down a google k hole that started with a search for the Wikipedia rendition of Lucille Ball and ended with the block universe theory (some heavy stuff) and I happened to open a link that led me to another link that led me to an internet shaman peddling his wares on a free masterclass that I, of course, gladly gave my email address to take (spamming be damned).

His speech was, to my surprise, decent in its deliverance.  I agreed on a spiritual level with much of what he was saying (and I’m usually very cynical when it comes to these kinds of things). He had me (re: the viewer) put two columns on a pad of paper and label each of the Light and Shadow.  For Light, I started thinking about qualities that I admire. Loving, altruistic, and passionate came to mind.  For shadow, I thought of all the qualities that I didn’t like. Anger, jealousy, and fear were just the first of many that I could think of.


Our viral guru then slides in from the left back on the screen after a 10 second reverie. He then went on to note how even the bad feelings had some good to them. All emotions are acceptable at any moment. In other words, radical human acceptance. To think, these emotions, the anger, the fear, the jealousy, the depression, the pessimism; these dark parts of me were acceptable. That to deny one of them. To pretend that they don’t exist and turn my back and run from them. To do any of that would be as painful as amputating a limb.  Wow, how true that was. It all just made sense all of a sudden, like an old wisdom just waking up.

It’s in being in avoidance mode that we cause ourselves so much pain. We can’t forget forever. That’s the problem. At some point, you’ll be picking at your ‘flaws’ again anyway. Which is a human construct in and of itself. The part about them being flaws, that is, Maybe my feelings aren’t bad. True, loving someone always rests easier with my constitution. No doubt in my mind about that. But my anger has, for better or worse, always been my protector. Its powerful, caveman smart persona and low eq score makes it easily frightening to a lurking (potential) enemy. And that’s not bad.

What’s bad is carrying the weight of this armor around.  Not to mention the weapons. What happens if I just drop all of that? What if I could, in this moment, see my anger and not judge it? What if I could just look at my boredom and not react. This is revolutionary. This, this aptly named concept. It’s like I’ve learned it all along this life path o’ mine, but like I’m learning it for the first time. It’s all around us in our pop culture. The phrase radical self acceptance has become buzzworthy. Even Ani Difranco wrote a song about this revolutionary kind of love

So what are we waiting for? How do we achieve this kind of peace? How do we laugh easy at the imperfections? Well, let’s dive right in!


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Ok, my friend Jocelyn told me about this one. I love talking to her about my ideas for SoulFed. She’s a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist (LMFT). Not only is she an old soul that’s wise beyond her physical years, she’s an idea machine who has her pulse on everything happening in the now. She’s the one I always come to when I need new ideas or when I want to get an outside opinion on something. We are both into the same things and she knew what I was talking about as soon as I started chatting away about my ethernet epiphany.

 “Ok, if you’re going to put this in your blog,” she says, “make sure to give them R.A.I.N as the solution.”

“Like the weather?” I innocently query. Thinking to myself, this is as good a reason as any to buy an umbrella hat.

“No, actually. Let’s see…” and I can tell that she’s thinking. “Ok,” Jocelyn says and starts telling me what each letter means.

Alright, here goes… The R.A.I.N model is recently being made popular by a psychologist by the name of Tara Brach. She wrote a book about it and probably explains it better than I ever can. So, if you visit her website, you can get a free pdf copy of R.A.I.N.

So, R.A.I.N is a simple acronym you can remember when an ugly feeling creeps in and you are about to spin your wheels.

R - Recognize. Recognize what is happening. Something is happening and I’m feeling heated. Instead of reacting, I can first recognize that, ‘oh hey! My blood pressure is on the rise.’

A - Allow. Allow the experience to be there. What I’m taking this to mean is to allow the feelings to come up. To not be afraid of feeling it.

I - Investigate with Interest and Care. In other words, get curious about you. What happens when I get bored? What do I think? How does it feel? How can you expect others to stay for you if you’re constantly abandoning yourself. Love it!

N - You can’t make it rain (tears of joy) without Nurture and Self Compassion. This is the one I have the hardest time with. To not be critical of myself and to love myself during times of the utmost self loathing? Tall order! But imagine what we could gain.


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In Conclusion...

If we accepted ourselves in such a spectacular, unconditional, manner; we would gain peace in our one true home, our human bodies. That is everything and the only thing. The holy grail. What an awe filled concept.  To look ourselves in the mirror not because we are looking at what to change but because we fully accept what is there.

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