Practice Radical Acceptance to Navigate Change

My hamstrings shouted at me.

As I attempted to sprint for the third round at the end of my workout, my strides slowed. I was running out of gas.

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise…

I’ve gone for a run at most two times in the last few months.

I used to be a lot better at running. But that reality has changed, because my priorities have changed! I don’t play running intensive sports like soccer or Ultimate anymore. I spend my time rock climbing, doing yoga, and strength training.

In most ways, I’m a better mover than ever before! I’m stronger and more flexible. But despite that, I still can’t do some of the things that I used to be able to do.

A handful of years ago, this would have frustrated me to no end.

But today, I’m at peace with it. I accept reality for what it is: my body is not the same as it once was.

No Judgement Zone

Mindfulness guides you to pay attention to moment you’re in, without judgment.

To be fully present, you need to be at peace with your current circumstances, regardless of what they may be. This means accepting your emotions, the sensations in your body, and the activity in your environment for what it is.

It’s neither good or bad, it just is!

This is relatively easy to do in a normal day. You’re used to the way things are, so it’s easy to accept them.

But it’s much harder when things change suddenly. It’s natural to start judging the situation.

  • You get caught in the rain on your walk home from work. Everything is soaked. You get upset.
  • You’re out of the house and your phone dies. Right as you were going to make a call! You get angry.

Adjusting to Change is Hard

When something in the world changes, it’s easy to be caught off guard.

The present reality no longer aligns with your expectations. You wish it had gone according to plan, and hold on that vision in your head.

You become anchored to the past, stuck in a reality that no longer exists.

This act of refusing to embrace the present moment is a source of much suffering.

When you fail to accept the new reality for what it is, you can’t function properly within it. You rationalize bad decisions, get grumpy and upset, and go into a downward spiral.

Emotional reactions to change are normal. They happen automatically.

But you can take a different path to avoid getting pulled into a negative place.

Stop Resisting Reality

The mindful approach to new and challenging situations starts with radical acceptance.

That first word, radical, is important. It means you are completely, totally, entirely embracing the present moment for what it is. You are not resisting reality.

Radical acceptance keeps you from losing your cool in tough situations. It focuses you on what’s important, and makes it easier to be solution-oriented.

Caught in the rain? It’s uncomfortable at first, but you realize it’s no big deal. You’ll be home soon enough. Your clothes will dry.

Phone died when you’re out running errands? It’s disruptive to your plans at first. But it’s okay. Your friend will understand why you didn’t call them back right away.

Practice Radical Acceptance

This week, notice when you find yourself resisting reality, take a minute to shift.

  1. Pause to collect yourself in the present moment with a couple deep breaths.
  2. Examine the situation more clearly. What were your expectations? How did reality play out?
  3. Let go of expectations that are no longer serving you.
  4. Embrace reality as it is so you can keep moving forward.

Naturally accepting change more easily takes time, but you’ll notice profound changes in your mental state.

When you can truly go with the flow, it takes a lot to get you off your game. You’ll be operating from a position of power and presence every day!

So take a deep breath, and embrace today. There’s never been a better day to show the world what you’re made of!