What is radical acceptance?
Radical acceptance is about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change.
Radical acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is. “I’m in this situation. I don’t approve of it. I don’t think it’s OK, but it is what it is, and I can’t change that it happened.”
If we don’t accept things as they are we can force them to be as they are not. If we accept things as they are in a situation, we can apply wisdom from a non-reactive state.
Things that are hard to accept: he is angry, she is yelling at me, he is not doing his schoolwork.
You don’t have to be at war with your child to accept what is.
Your child does not have to be the enemy.
This situation does not even have to be a problem/burden/tolerating
When there is no war, we may find a solution in a kind and compassionate way.
There does not have to be a war to help your child.
Say yes to the situation and a small no can come.
There does not need to be a judgement or a fight against what is bad.
The only way we can get to radical acceptance is if we are working on ourselves.
I had to start chipping away at the shame that was driving my response to my child’s behavior.
It would be like this, my child is not doing their work in school. The school calls and with an attitude implies that he is bad/wrong and that somehow, I am not doing a good enough job.
Does that happen in life, of course but on the whole most parents are doing everything that they are aware of, to help their child be healthy and happy.
The issue for me was that I was not aware that my own feelings of not good enough were driving my own behavior. I would not respond to his mistakes with kindness, compassion, and curiosity. I responded with anger because I constantly felt ashamed or in fear.
I would start with asking myself hard questions because the thing is all children get damaged, it’s evident by the adults we have running around taking their hurts out on others. It’s just what can I give my child now that will help him feel safe enough to be himself and feel ok in his own skin?
My child’s behavior is not on me but the way I respond to it is. If I am an angry, authoritarian, my child will continue to believe that they are bad, wrong, or not good enough. Then the cycle of behavior just continues.
It takes work on ourselves. I came to see all the areas that my child needed to work on, so did I. My children are complete reflections of my own hurts.
“She is still a of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.”
― Judith Lewis Herman,
Here is a secret, we can’t change other humans!!
We can change ourselves and it has a huge impact on the people in our life.
The first thing I had to do was look at myself. My shame, my upbringing, my feelings of entitlement, control, beliefs, and thoughts. I was ultimately responding negative to my child because I did not want others to think I was failing as a parent and I wanted to stop him from failing in his own life. Sounds noble but that is still self-centered.
I started to heal when I got a spiral notebook and started working on these hard places.
It is really important to write it out or type it out so we can see it.
I ask myself: What Am I Afraid Of?
Ex: spouse, partner, children, church, organizations, school, embarrassment, friends, family
What am I Afraid Might Happen?
I am going to ask myself: Am I afraid of losing something? (relationship, marriage, family, job, the respect of others?)
Is there a consequence I fear from one of my past actions? (jail, fines, public humiliation, criticism, shame?)
What are the things that crowd into my head when I try to sleep, what do I worry about all the time?
For me most fears center around losing what I have; not being able to get what I want, or consequences of past behaviors and what they are going to do when they catch up to me. (I am not good enough and a fraud and eventually everyone will know it too)
I would worry about my child’s future and be frozen with fear thinking about what will happen to him if he does not learn to control his emotions.
What part of me is affected? Choose from: Self-esteem, Security, Ambitions, Personal Relations
When any one of these areas of life is threatened, I experience fear.
Finally, I can see where my fears come from. Just getting it out on paper helps.
What Did I Do? I ask myself: How did I set this problem in motion? I found that even responding with a bad look can set my child into a fear response because in his perception he can see the anger in my face. Did I scream and yell back at him?
Can I find something I did to set the fear cycle in motion or are there items I feel completely innocent and baffled? For me I could not get past that my child was so mean and disrespectful. I would often compare my own childhood to his and think if he was in my home as a child he would not end well. I also got stuck on a child is supposed to respect and obey their parents. I applied the parenting techniques that I was used to seeing. They keep failing but my child is the one that isn’t getting it?
What am I thinking and believing that starts this fear cycle? Examples for me include
I am not a good mom. I have failed, my child has something wrong with him, what will others think about me?
We have our own trauma responses to our children. What traumas are triggered in me?
This was the start of repairing my relationship with my child. I am not going to lie this is hard. When my child gets angry the first thing, I want to do is not accept his behavior, resist it but the absolute first step is looking at myself.
Getting the questions on paper and start digging out the hurt.