Radical acceptance: A path to emotional freedom

Radical acceptance is a concept that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the field of psychology and mindfulness. The term was first introduced by psychologist Marsha Linehan, who developed dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and used radical acceptance as a key component of this therapy. It refers to the act of fully accepting and embracing reality, as it is, without judgment or resistance.


The practice of radical acceptance has been shown to have a profound impact on mental and emotional well-being. By embracing reality as it is, individuals can reduce stress and anxiety, improve their relationships, and develop a greater sense of inner peace and happiness.

Radical acceptance is different from simply tolerating or resigning ourselves to a situation. It involves a deep and complete acceptance of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant they may be. By embracing radical acceptance, we can overcome the tendency to avoid or resist difficult emotions and thoughts, which can lead to greater clarity, insight, and self-awareness.

Tara Brach, a clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher, has extensively explored the concept of radical acceptance. She champions the idea that radical acceptance is the key to overcoming negative thoughts and emotions and finding true happiness. According to Brach, our natural inclination is to avoid or resist difficult experiences, which can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. However, by embracing radical acceptance, individuals can overcome this tendency and find peace. 

Brach emphasises the importance of mindfulness in the practice of radical acceptance. By becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can approach them with greater openness and understanding. When we create some space between ourselves, and our thoughts/emotions, we develop a greater capacity to understand them. 

One of the key benefits of radical acceptance is that it reduces stress and anxiety. By accepting and acknowledging our experiences, we can decrease their intensity and reduce stress and anxiety levels. This can lead to greater emotional stability and resilience, helping individuals to better handle the ups and downs of life.

In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, radical acceptance also promotes improved overall well-being. By embracing our experiences and accepting reality as it is, we can develop greater inner peace and contentment. This can lead to a greater sense of purpose and fulfilment, helping individuals to lead more fulfilling lives.

The practice of radical acceptance can be challenging, especially for those who are used to avoiding or resisting negative thoughts and feelings. However, with time and practice, this approach can become second nature, leading to improved mental and emotional well-being. Brach suggests some tips for incorporating radical acceptance into your life, including:

  1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, and allow them to approach their experiences with greater acceptance.
  2. Accept and acknowledge your experiences. Accepting and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, is the cornerstone of radical acceptance.
  3.  Practice non-judgment. By avoiding judgment and criticism, we can approach our experiences with greater openness and understanding, leading to increased levels of acceptance.
  4.  Seek support. Working with a therapist or coach who uses mindfulness or DBT tools can provide people with the support and guidance they need to fully embrace radical acceptance.

In conclusion, radical acceptance is a powerful tool for improving mental and emotional well-being. By embracing reality as it is, you can reduce stress and anxiety, improve your relationships, and develop a greater sense of inner peace and happiness. With time and practice, this approach can become a valuable tool for a lifetime of peace and happiness.


  • "DBT Skills Training Manual" by Marsha Linehan, PhD
  • "Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN" by Tara Brach, PhD

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, EC2A
Written by Laura Prendiville, MSC, MCCP.
London, EC2A

I'm an accredited Contemporary Psychotherapist. I use creative and dynamic approaches to working with trauma, bereavement, anxiety and depression.

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