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Author Topic: 1.06 | Radical Acceptance For Family Members (DBT skill)  (Read 40610 times)
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« on: September 29, 2007, 10:04:03 AM »

Radical Acceptance

This workshop is about coping and using the tool of radical acceptance and mindfulness.  'Radical' is used in the medical sense such as radical surgery, or radical mastectomy - designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue.

Radical acceptance was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD. from the University of Washington (see article) and is based on the ancient Zen philosophy that each moment is complete by itself, and that the world is perfect as it is. Zen focuses on acceptance, validation, and tolerance instead of change.  Mindfulness is “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them. It is the intentional process of observing, describing, and participating in reality non-judgmentally, in the moment, and with effectiveness. Ethereal as it may sound, Linehan's methods have been independently studied by clinical researchers and shown to be effective.

The prime dissatisfaction for many of us is the sense that we are unworthy according to Tara Brach, PhD. We aren’t enough, we don’t do enough, we don’t have enough.  We live in a trance of unworthiness. It’s a trance because the pain of KNOWING the unworthy feelings is rather deep. So we keep really busy, so there’s no time to sit and know. We embark on self-improvement projects to try to be good enough. We avoid risks to avoid more pain. We withdraw from knowing our current experience.  We become self-critics. And like most self critics, we also become critical of others.  The trance of unworthiness involves being in close touch with a self that’s fearful, wanting, feeling alone and separate.  The self caught in desire, aversion, delusion. It means losing sight of the self who’s connected, whole, in the ‘fullness of being.’

“When we learn to face and feel the fear and shame we habitually avoid, we begin to awaken from the trance.”

Radical acceptance is a concept everyone that interfaces with a borderline person should understand - be it a spouse, a child, and step mom, or an ex.  

There are three parts to radical acceptance.

~~The first part is accepting that reality is what it is.

~~The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause.  

~~The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.

I hope this workshop is helpful.

Skippy


Tara Brach Video - 2 mins - click image

 



Tara Brach, PhD, is the author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life

With the Heart of a Buddha. She is founder and senior teacher of the Insight

Meditation Community of Washington, and teaches Buddhist meditation at

centers in the United States and Canada. A clinical psychologist, she has

taught extensively on the application of Buddhist teachings to emotional

healing
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2007, 09:58:55 PM »

Radical Acceptance and a Borderline Spouse.

Living with someone who suffers from borderline personality disorder is extremely difficult, as we all know first hand. We are all familiar with the verbal attacks, emotional blackmail, manipulation, hurtful criticism, threats, and the silent treatment. Being woken up in the middle of the night, listening to rage, having intimacy withheld from us... .the list could go on and on... .yet many of us (unless we have children or parents with BPD) have chosen to get into the situation and stay in the situation in which we are living with or dealing with someone with BPD. .

The reason is different for each of us, but in the end, our goal is to make things better.  How do we go about doing that when so much of the problem seems to be out of our control?  How do we handle something that is so difficult to understand as borderline personality disorder?

One way is to stop fighting things and defending yourself; to learn to let go and accept what is:  Radical acceptance.

When faced with a painful situation, you really have only 4 options:

* Solve the problem.

* Change how you feel about the problem.

* Accept it.

* Stay miserable; continue to be a victim.


Everyone feels pain. It is part of life to experience painful moments. We grow and learn from the pain we endure. Many times we fight against it and say to ourselves "this isn't fair".  Yeah, it may not be, but by fighting against it, you aren't working through it. The very fact that you are judging it as "not right" or "unfair" means that you aren't accepting it. Yeah, it hurts. Yeah, it isn't your fault. Yeah, things can be better. Accepting the reality allows the pain to go away. Dwelling on the unfairness only keeps you stuck in your misery.

Pain + non acceptance = suffering.

Reality is what it is

Everything has a cause

Life can be worth living - even when there is pain in it.


If you accept your life "as it is" then you can let go of the bitterness and the anger and the "why me" stuff, you can begin to focus on things that you can change, and to let go of the things that you can't.

People say "I can't stand it!"   

What is the "it"?

The problem isn't the experience, but our interpretation of the experience.

It's how we see "it" and judge "it" that influences how we feel about "it". The glass can be half empty or it can be half full. We determine that. The glass just is what it is... .

This isn't easy.

You will need to do this many many times during the day.

Change never comes easy - but - nothing changes without changes... .
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2007, 01:31:56 AM »

I went to DBT and although I did not finish the course, I do think it is a tremendous tool for the Non.

Radical Acceptance can enable the Non to see their situation as it is without judgement about their own feelings. Part of the issue for some Nons is denial of their own experience. Often once the Non moves away from denial they encounter feelings of profound self judgment and can get stuck.

In order for the Non to heal and begin to put things in perspective Radical Acceptance helps the Non forgive themselves for their part in the relationship.

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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2007, 09:18:37 PM »

I believe that sometimes a Non-BP has either started out with, or found they've 'agreed to' an underlying, subconscious role they've 'chosen' as savior, fixer, or 'superior' caretaker of a 'lesser' individual. It's possible some Nons have a sense that they will feel better about themselves if they 'sacrifice' their sense of "self" 'for' their BP. Not to say that that is healthy - it's not. But it can be an element easily over-looked as to what some Non-BPs 'get out of' an unhealthy relationship.

So, I agree with what you're saying - just that a Non's "sacrificing sense of self" is not necessarily a one size fits all.

Sometimes even folks who don't have BPD will chose relationships with red flags going off all over the place, to... .continue unfinished business [with issues from family-of-origin?] or... .to 'fix'? the other person or their circumstances. Some people take success in that area as a direct reflection on themselves and it makes them feel adequate or superior. That might be why sometimes 'failure' can be so devastating and is simply not acceptable.

Many times we have: a) a needy person; and b) a person with a need to fix.

In those cases I'd hope that Radical Acceptance would include the Non-BP (person b) realizing, accepting, and [hopefully] modifying whatever it was they brought to the table to contribute to the "craziness" - their own, and that of the whacky dynamic.
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2007, 09:52:35 PM »

Thank you for sharing your work and valuable insights. I can understand how the DBT for Non's can be quite valuable. Is it effective to learn if your significant other does not acknowledge BP?

What I gather right now from it is to step outside my husband's behavior, and not take him on as my problem, however I desperately want him to get the help he deserves.
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2007, 11:29:12 PM »

One of the best therapists I had was one who was not part of the DBT group but used a lot the same techniques.

It is such a healing idea.

It was once described this way to me-You accept suffering as it is but you no longer suffer about your suffering.

Such an important topic.

My ex who is a dx borderline but a non as he is a child of a BPD with Histrionic tendencies told me recently in an email that DBT is helping him put his childhood to rest and let go of his mother. He accepts her as is but he wants nothing more to do with her.

So it doesn't mean acceptance as condoning the behavior or capitulating to the behavior but just accepting it as is. He said it has been such a release to let her go without judgment.

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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2007, 05:48:09 AM »

If you are interested in working on acceptance, there is another acceptance-based behavior therapy that is related to DBT but has been shown to be effective in a variety of conditions/situations that some of you might be interested in. It was developed by Steve Hayes at the University of Nevada at Reno, and it is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT (you can learn more at www.contextualpsychology.org/). The approach focuses on cultivating acceptance (not resignation) and making decisions/taking action based on your values. There is also a great workbook associated with it called "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life" if you can't/don't want to find an ACT therapist but are interested in the approach.

Best,

Kristalyn

K. Salters-Pedneault, Ph.D.

About.com Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder

www.BPD.about.com
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2007, 05:55:58 AM »

I've come across some information about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that looks potentially useful for me.  ACT is a relatively recent therapeutic approach that takes as a starting point a similar view as Radical Acceptance - you can't hope to deal with a bad situation until and unless you truly accept that situation as reality, and "mindfulness" is important for getting back to the here-and-now.  This speaks to me because, although I'm a lot stronger and more together than I was before, I still am plagued at times with anxieties stemming from the situation I am in with my ex and our children.  An awful lot of those anxieties and obsessive thoughts boil down to worries about what could happen in the future, why social services aren't doing what I think they should be doing and so on.  The whole coulda/shoulda/woulda thing, and one that is indicative of not accepting the here-and-now reality of the situation.  This conflict between "what is" and "how things should be" is where the obsessive thoughts and anxieties arise from.

The ACT approach would start with accepting the reality of what is, is.  It doesn't mean that you have to try to convince yourself that it's good, or that it can never change, but simply to accept that this is the way it is right now.  I found journalling helped a lot with this, trying not to get into value judgements or "how things should be" but just to get down on paper the truth of the situation as it is today.  One of the core tenets of ACT is, as well as accepting external reality, to accept the internal reality, too.  A stressful situation will cause stress.  Rather than try to battle against that stress, or engage in thoughts of "Why is it so hard?  What can't I cope with this?" just accept the emotional responses as something the body does all by itself.  Crucially, though, the idea here is to separate the emotional responses from the "observing self", the part of the consciousness that can observe these emotions but that is, nevertheless, distinct from them.  ACT has a number of tricks to help make that separation, many of which are based on visualising the emotion as language and then playing around with the language to defuse the emotional power of it.  Eg, I've had some interesting results from taking an emotional thought such as "I feel overwhelmed" and then imagining Dick Van Dyke saying it in that awful Cockney accent he used in "Mary Poppins".  Smiling (click to insert in post)  Sounds dumb, I know, but it really does take the power away from the thought.  The thing to remember is that these kinds of thoughts aren't going to go away.  Rather, ACT shows a means for accepting that these thoughts will still occur, that they're not necessarily a sign of dysfunction or otherwise "bad" but that they're just thoughts.  Battling against these kinds of thoughts gets you nowhere and, crucially, these kinds of thoughts don't change the reality of the situation that gave rise to them.  Mindfulness also comes into play here to help ground you back into reality when you become lost in these thoughts.

The "Commitment" part comes in when, once you've accepted reality for what it is, and used these kinds of tricks to remove the power from the emotional response, to then go back and review the situation more dispassionately and commit to a course of action based on ones own sense of morals and/or core values.  That course of action could simply be to accommodate it if it's a situation over which you have no control, to make what changes you can, and/or to strike out in a new direction that fits better with the kind of person you want to be. 

I doubt I've explained this particularly well but it strikes some very interesting resonances with me and the techniques it describes has already had some surprising results.  Has anyone else looked into this?

  SNM

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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2007, 06:02:32 AM »

I forgot to add a link -Here is a good overview of what ACT is about.  I've also ordered "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy" by Steven Hayes. 

Once I've read it I'll post a review.

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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2007, 09:48:30 AM »

One of the best therapists I have ever had was an ACT therapist. She was amazing. Her viewpoints on trauma and acceptance got me to start the road towards leaving my ex.

She freed me from a lot of suffering.

I go back to it now when I have troubles. This theory helped me with some recent stuff I have been experiencing with my daughter. It helped me to be ok with what is. It even makes me ok that I am not ok sometimes.

It has a way of stripping away the nonsense and getting down to basics and simplicity.

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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2008, 07:56:35 PM »

Other tools that may be helpful in practicing mindfulness on your own are CDs by Marsha Linehan, which you can get at behavioraltech.org - I like From Suffering to Freedom through Acceptance.

There are also several CDs and guides available at Shinzen Young's website www.shinzen.org/ - a lot of his material is available on the website.

Mindfulness is woven throughout all of the DBT skill modules. The other pieces I find particularly helpful are the pieces in the distress tolderance module on accepting reality and the piece in emotion regulation on letting go of emotional suffering. (Sorry if this is a duplicate from those areas!)

The concepts include:

*Replace willfulness with willingness

   -WILLFULNESS :

● is refusing to make changes that are needed, giving up, refusing to tolerate distress, or trying to fix every situation.

● causes you to fight any suggestions that will improve the distress and thus make it more tolerable.

● It is the opposite of doing what works, of being effective.

    -WILLINGNESS:

● is doing just what is needed in each situation, in an unpretentious way, focusing on effectiveness, listening very carefully to your WISE MIND, acting from your inner self.

● Ask yourself, in 5 years from now, will the situation that causes the distress matter?

To me the difference is sort of like the difference between approaching a situation or person trying to control tightly in a fist versus letting go of the control you do not have anyway and approaching with open hands lifted upward, relaxed.

     -TURNING THE MIND

● Acceptance of reality requires an act of CHOICE. It is like coming to a fork in the road. You have to turn your mind towards the acceptance road and away from the rejecting reality road.

● You have to make an inner COMMITMENT to accept. The commitment to accept does not itself equal acceptance. It just turns you toward the path. But it is the first step.

● Sometimes, you have to make the commitment many times in the space of a few minutes.


    -RADICAL ACCEPTANCE

● Freedom from suffering requires ACCEPTANCE of what is, FROM DEEP WITHIN.

● It is allowing yourself to go completely with whatever the situation is. Let go of fighting reality.

● ACCEPTANCE IS THE ONLY WAY OUT OF HELL. THIS MUST NOT BE INTERPRETED AS APPROVAL OF THE DISTRESSING SITUATION

● Pain creates suffering only when you refuse to ACCEPT the pain.

● Deciding to tolerate the moment is ACCEPTANCE.

● ACCEPTANCE is acknowledging what is.

● To accept something is not the same as judging it to be good.

● By stopping your self from fighting, the rage or anger you feel will dissipate as long as you continue to accept your condition or your faulty perceptions to events or interpersonal communications difficulties. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel when you are able to accept.

Radical acceptance is simply coming to terms with what is rather than dwelling in what we wish had happened.

It is letting go of "ostrich behavior" and letting go of "if I coulda shoulda woulda" to be able to deal with what IS.

The main idea from emotional suffering is that we cannot (always) control whether pain enters our lives. However, we have some influence over how much we suffer. Pain is not the same thing as suffering.

These are some tips:

It is possible to let go of emotional suffering.

   Letting go of emotional suffering is not the same thing as letting go of the emotions themselves.

   We can learn how to let go of emotional suffering.

We do not mean getting rid of or stuffing the emotions.

   What we are talking about is dealing with these emotions in a way that will relieve some of the suffering that goes with them. The emotions are valid and represent experiences and interactions that were or are painful.


In learning to let go of our emotional suffering, we use the mindfulness skills of observing and describing.

   These skills give some distance from the emotions so we can see them more clearly.

Some ways to try getting some distance from a painful emotion that you have:

   Put it over there and look at it, maybe as if it were on a screen or a stage.

   Describe in words what the experience of that emotion is like. This also helps to give you distance and perspective.

By looking at your emotions you are exposing yourself to them. You are not necessarily acting on them, and not being swallowed or overwhelmed by them.

Emotions come and go.

   Most last only from seconds to a few minutes if allowed to run their natural course.

   They are like waves in the sea – they gather speed, roll in, crash upon the shore, then fade away. Although emotions come and go, they can also be self-perpetuating – that is, they can keep feeding off themselves and restarting (emotions love themselves).

When we accept our unpleasant, difficult emotions, we begin to loosen the hold they have on us and the suffering they cause decreases. 

   Accepting our emotions, letting ourselves realize that we have the emotions and that they are real and valid, is NOT approving of our pain or approving of the events that preceded these emotions.

   We DON’T have to approve of our unpleasant emotions to be able to accept them.

   Just let the feelings in and acknowledge their presence.

Debye
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2008, 10:09:26 AM »

Thanks, Kristalyn!

Debye, great information!  Thanks!
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2008, 10:45:18 AM »

Here is an easy example of radical acceptance.

If you are like me, you arent fond of dental work. It sucks. It sometimes hurts. Its inconvenient, its icky, its something you wish you didnt need, but you do.

Ok. So... I use radical acceptance, and I see the dentist anyway. Or, ladies, getting a mamogram or pap smear... we just accept that there is some unpleasentness AND we have it done, anyway.

  Now... what if you fought and fought the dentist idea? I HATE GOING, why do I have to go, I KNOW its going to be horrible, I wish it wasnt like that, why do *I* have to have a root canal, how can I get out of this, I think Ill put it off, I am terrified, I dont think anyone has ever had it as bad as I do, I cant stand it, I cannot handle it, I cannot deal with it, I WONT DO IT, I refuse to accept that I need my teeth taken care of, why me, why is my dentist so mean, why is he so expensive, why is the office so crowded, why do those shots hurt, why am I always the one that has to wait, I know the dentist doesnt like me... .

Radical acceptance says : It isnt my favorite thing to do, maybe I am scared... AND I need to go anyway.

Anyone notice how much energy it takes to fight it, and how it doesnt solve anything? And just understanding that yea, I dont like this, and even so, thats the way it is... .calms the adrenalin, calms the mind and it makes it all so much easier.

Steph
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2008, 11:19:57 AM »

good way to put all this, and yes it might be hard, but can be done just takes a long time trying to change yourself isn't easy setting boundaries and sticking to them isn't easy, communicating differntly isnt' easy none of this is, but we chose to stay and this is what we need to do.  not saying your bp will all of a sudden not have BPD anymore, because that isn't true but things in your life will be easier and not so difficult and if the rages are farther apart like mine went to, life is and just became easier for you, who was to think all i had to do is learn all these skills, setting boundaries and practice them and the rages that were three times a week and long now are like every 4 months apart shorter lasting a lesser time. and it is all in how i changed... .me 8) oh and another big part in all this is accepting and the understanding i had to learn... letting go of what i thought things were and accepting him for who he is... .
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« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2008, 01:06:45 PM »

Great overview.  "Radical acceptance and ACT doesn't just pertain to Staying with a disordered partner... .  All of us have "things" in our life that we have to "radically accept".  I'm working through some of this radical acceptance myself right now, and it doesn't have that much to do with my BPD-ish exh.  I've made bad decisions; I've wound up in a couple of difficult situations, but now I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and do what I can do.  I've got to stop banging myself on the head (figuratively) with the "Why didn't I... ." and the "if only
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« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2008, 11:09:26 PM »

I've made some observations. I've been making these observations for some time, but always manage to forget and get caught up in the drama all over again.

Anyway, I wanted to share because I feel really good again. Let's see how I feel tonight and tomorrow. I hope I can keep it up. Basically it comes down to forcing myself to keep thinking about what I want and then giving it to myself, allowing me to have what I want/need to be happy. It is about living from a center of providing for myself - moment to moment - right now and now and now, rather than a taking from myself with all my "shoulds" and scoldings for screwing up. 

Stages to happiness

1. Notice that I'm utterly miserable. Anxiety, suffering, confusion, misery dominates my mood. Keep trying to hold things together and make things okay, but they suck and I'm a wreck about it. (Unconscious self-loathing from general stress and instinct to be more concerned with others and work than myself.)

2. After some time remember that when I'm unhappy I need to take time out and relax. Take the pressure off and de-stress. I clear my plate and rest. Now I'm conscious of my misery and . . .

3. Here begins the blaming and fighting with myself for blaming. My mind identifies all the "bad" things I've been doing to create stress in my life - was in a terrible marriage (poor choices, weakness, etc), took a terrible job (poor choices, weakness, etc), got into an unsatisfying new relationship (poor choices, weakness, etc), live in a dump (inability to manage money, bad marriage, weakness, poor choices in relationships) so generally at this stage I feel like total sht about myself and my life.

4. I remind myeslf - "stop resisting the pain, welcome it!" At this stage I accept that I feel like a piece of sht. Now I take pleasure in identifying with the the artists (the addicted and suffering ones at least) of the world. I hate myself and so do they, we're all miserable together! Ah, the joy of it. There's the music to keep me company, the smoking, the life of pain . . .  But acceptance of my shtty self is a very temporary joy. Very temporary. It flees as I continue to be aware that I hate myself and my life. Because I'm no longer distracting, I'm totally conscious of my miserable state. Oh joy!

5. So, despite saying I'm going to destress and rest, I find that I keep scheming for self-improvement. I put the pressure on even more by coming up with all the sht I should do to like myself better - change jobs, give up boyfriend, clean house, save money, build friendships. The shoulds compound my suffering and I begin to feel hopeless and depressed. I have NO energy to make good on any of the shoulds. I can't even put away my laundry or get out of bed. I hate myself for not being like the cheery people on TV and in the books who "dream" and find "inspiration." Who love themselves and are successful at life. I think maybe my plans are all wrong, I don't need to work out or clean or host a party or give up my boyfriend .  .  .

6. I realize, this plan isn't working. I'm still miserable, what's going on? Oh, right! The absence of misery is not the same thing as happiness. I can try and get away from the misery, but I have to actually fill the void with good stuff or else I'm still basically miserable. And that is the aha moment where things shift for real. I now look around and love my home, I love my body, I love my job (ha!), I love my friendships (and relationships), I love it all in its mixed up imperfections. I remember that the key is to MAKE MYSELF HAPPY. As in, "what do I want?" "what do I need?" and then listen and actually feel like I deserve it! Respond to my feelings and desires. That's self-love and that's what heals. I'm aware that I've internalized a lot of messages that say I'm bad for feeling bad, I'm bad for wanting and giving myself what I want. That message is powerful inside me and I have to fight it with a new voice that says "yes" to me.

How long can I prolong this state? That is my experiment now. Let's see how long I can keep up the self-care. Not acting from the "shoulds" but responding to the wants and needs. God they got their messages in me deep. It takes a lot of conscious effort on myself to do for me!

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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2008, 08:47:32 PM »

These are great tools. I wasn't sure what the words for it were but this makes sense. It is what it is. I am with my boyfriend because he is who he is. That is with craziness and moods. I realize he is working to get better, but if things are never different from how they are now... .that is ok.
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2009, 09:20:47 PM »

How do you know when you have truly accepted things?
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2009, 10:40:10 AM »

When you don't get as angry or as upset over what they do.

When you can have true compassion for the pain they are in.

When your gut no longer tightens up in fear and dread.

When your love for them stills the spiteful words you would normally speak.

When you have lowered your defenses and no longer feel the need to explain or justify yourself.

When you can listen to the words they are saying, and find the emotions that are behind them.



It isn't a miraculous event, but a process that needs to be reaffirmend over and over and over again.

p.s. - I'm still working on this myself... .it ain't easy, but it is worth it

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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2009, 10:45:43 AM »

This is an interesting excerpt from an article in Psychology Today

More on this article here

What is happiness? The most useful definition—and it's one agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, behavioral economists, positive psychologists, and Buddhist monks—is more like satisfied or content than "happy" in its strict bursting-with-glee sense. It has depth and deliberation to it. It encompasses living a meaningful life, utilizing your gifts and your time, living with thought and purpose.

It's maximized when you also feel part of a community. And when you confront annoyances and crises with grace. It involves a willingness to learn and stretch and grow, which sometimes involves discomfort. It requires acting on life, not merely taking it in. It's not joy, a temporary exhilaration, or even pleasure, that sensual rush—though a steady supply of those feelings course through those who seize each day.

There has been real progress in understanding happiness and how to get it. Here are the greatest hits, as it were, that jump out from the research.

Getting What You Want Doesn't Bring Lasting Happiness

You think happiness would arrive if you were to win the lottery, or would forever fade away if your home were destroyed in a flood. But human beings are remarkably adaptable. After a variable period of adjustment, we bounce back to our previous level of happiness, no matter what happens to us. (There are some scientifically proven exceptions, notably suffering the unexpected loss of a job or the loss of a spouse. Both events tend to permanently knock people down a notch.)

Our adaptability works in two directions. Because we are so adaptable, points out Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, we quickly get used to many of the accomplishments we strive for in life, such as landing the big job or getting married. Soon after we reach a milestone, we start to feel that something is missing. We begin coveting another worldly possession or eyeing a social advancement. But such an approach keeps us tethered to the "hedonic treadmill," where happiness is always just out of reach, one toy or one notch away. It's possible to get off the treadmill entirely, Lyubomirsky says, by focusing on activities that are dynamic, surprising, and attention-absorbing, and thus less likely to bore us than, say, acquiring shiny stuff.

Pain Is a Part of Happiness

Happiness is not your reward for escaping pain. It demands that you confront negative feelings head-on, without letting them overwhelm you. Russ Harris, a medical doctor-cum-counselor and author of The Happiness Trap, calls popular conceptions of happiness dangerous because they set people up for a "struggle against reality." They don't acknowledge that real life is full of disappointments, loss, and inconveniences. "If you're going to live a rich and meaningful life," Harris says, "you're going to feel a full range of emotions."

The point isn't to limit that palette of feelings. After all, negative states cue us into what we value and what we need to change: Grief for a loved one proves how much we cherish our relationships. Frustration with several jobs in a row is a sign we're in the wrong career. Happiness would be meaningless if not for sadness: Without the contrast of darkness, there is no light.



Mindfulness Brings Happiness


Mindfulness, a mental state of relaxed awareness of the present moment, marked by openness and curiosity toward your feelings rather than judgments of them, is a powerful tool for experiencing happiness when practiced regularly. "If you bring mindfulness to bear on negative feelings, they lose their impact. Just let them be there without struggling against them, and you'll eventually feel less anxiety and depression," Harris says. Don't banish your negative feelings, but don't let them get in the way of your taking productive actions, either.

Happiness Is Other People

Positive psychologist Chris Peterson, a professor at the University of Michigan, says the best piece of advice to come out of his field is to make strong personal relationships your priority. Good relationships are buffers against the damaging effects of all of life's inevitable letdowns and setbacks.

Do Your Happiness Homework

You can increase positive feelings by incorporating a few proven practices into your routine. Lyubomirsky suggests you express your gratitude toward someone in a letter or in a weekly journal, visualize the best possible future for yourself once a week, and perform acts of kindness for others on a regular basis to lift your mood in the moment and over time. "Becoming happier takes work, but it may be the most rewarding and fun work you'll ever do," she says.

Happiness Hinges on Your Time Frame

Feeling happy while you carry out your day-to-day activities may not have much to do with how satisfied you feel in general. Time skews our perceptions of happiness. Parents look back warmly on their children's preschool years, for example. But Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University found that childcare tasks rank very low on the list of what makes people happy, below napping and watching TV. And yet, if you were to step back and evaluate a decade of your life, would a spirited stretch of raising children or a steady stream of dozing off on the couch each day in between soap operas illustrate a "happier" time? Evaluate your well-being at the macro as well as the micro level to get the most accurate picture of your own happiness.

You're Wrong About What Will Make You Happy and You're Wrong About What Made You Happy

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert discovered a deep truth about happiness: Things are almost never as bad—or as good—as we expect them to be. Your promotion will be quite nice, but it won't be a 24-hour parade. Your break-up will be very hard, but also instructive, and maybe even energizing. We are terrible at predicting our future feelings accurately, especially if our predictions are based on our past experiences. The past exists in our memory, after all, and memory is not a reliable recording device: We recall beginnings and endings far more intensely than those long "middles," whether they're eventful or not. So the horrible beginning of your vacation will lead you astray in deciding the best place to go next year.

Gilbert's take-away advice is to forgo your own mental projections. The best predictor of whether you'll enjoy something is whether someone else enjoyed it. So simply ask your friend who went to Mexico if you, too, should go there on vacation.

Happiness Is Embracing Your Natural Coping Style

Not everyone can put on a happy face. Barbara Held, a professor of psychology at Bowdoin College, for one, rails against "the tyranny of the positive attitude." "Looking on the bright side isn't possible for some people and is even counterproductive," she insists. "When you put pressure on people to cope in a way that doesn't fit them, it not only doesn't work, it makes them feel like a failure on top of already feeling bad."

The one-size-fits-all approach to managing emotional life is misguided, agrees Julie Norem, author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking. In her research, the Wellesley professor of psychology has shown that the defensive pessimism that anxious people feel can be harnessed to help them get things done, which in turn makes them happier. A naturally pessimistic architect, for example, can set low expectations for an upcoming presentation and review all of the bad outcomes that she's imagining, so that she can prepare carefully and increase her chances of success.

Happiness Is Living Your Values

If you aren't living according to your values, you won't be happy, no matter how much you are achieving. Some people, however, aren't even sure what their values are. If you're one of them, Harris has a great question for you: "Imagine I could wave a magic wand to ensure that you would have the approval and admiration of everyone on the planet, forever. What, in that case, would you choose to do with your life?"


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« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2009, 02:18:33 PM »

This is a good discussion Smiling (click to insert in post)

That is an interesting article, skip!  Years ago, something I heard on Dr. Laura (of all things) really stuck in my head (I'm paraphrasing from memory here): "Happiness is not the same thing as pleasure. Pleasure is what you feel when the chocolate hits your tongue, or your body parts touch another person's. Happiness is that good feeling of well being you can have about yourself when you are treating other people well and meeting your responsibilities. Mindless pursuit of pleasure ultimately works against happiness".

Regarding radical acceptance ... .for me it means accepting that the brick wall really is made of brick, and it's always going to be harder than my head, no matter how good I get at beating my head against it. I will never break a hole in the brick wall that way. I can try to go over or around the wall, I can even have a picnic next to it, but all the wishing, hoping, and gnashing of teeth in the world will never let me break through it with my head.
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« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2009, 04:34:07 PM »

It is interesting how our experiences with a BPD, have pushed us "outside our comfort zone", forced us to look introspectively and ask some very basic questions about ourselves.  These are things I would likely have never done, without going through several years of dealing with what was complete irrationality at times in my relationship/marriage. 

"Acceptance" was a word I heard over and over in my head, in recognizing two people in a relationship where one is BPD, do not see life or experience it the same way.  It was as though "she" was speaking one language and I was speaking another.  My initial "quest" was to make her understand and speak "my" language, because "I knew I was right".  I frustrated myself, tormented myself, became depressed at times, was unhappy, didn't smile, lost perspective and interest in the very things I once had treasured.

After all the reading, counseling, meditation, sharing with other "nons", I have come away realizing that all I had to do, and all I really needed to work on, was not trying to "change her view", but simply "accept" that we are not all the same.  It does not mean however that we cannot share life and love together, but means  I need to quit trying to be "right" in my views of life, and simply accept that not all relationships and people should act or be the same.  Looking back however, I also understand that it takes a certain level of emotional maturity, to be able to not only grasp the concept of radical acceptance, but to live life with it in mind.  My experiences with a BPD have pushed me to new levels of growth.  Isn't that the point of a relationship?

 
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« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2009, 04:24:31 PM »

I don't know how to put this properly, and I swear I'm not trying to make trouble.

I know we are talking about "relatively healthy" relationships with disordered people, but I wonder... .I stayed in my marriage and put up with physical and verbal abuse to maintain a seemingly loving relationship between my son and his father.  When it was "just" slaps, and the occasional screamed nasty names, I put up with it, until I got too angry and envisioned greater happiness for myself.  Then it all escalated.

Could I have radically accepted a slap here and there that really wasn't so painful, and could that have actually lead to some kind of improvement, down the line, when I stopped letting it be a fight for control between the two of us?  Like maybe he would have gotten tired of that when he saw it didn't have an effect, and I accepted him for who he was? He still would have been sick, and occasionally abusive, but maybe he wouldn't hit me anymore.  I got the sense that he never really enjoyed doing it.  What if I had tried harder to turn the other cheek and accept that it might happen?  Would it have changed things?

Believe it or not, I'm actually asking this question, based on these articles, and the knowledge that 99% of the world's population is worse off then I was back then.  I think of the violence Gandhi and his followers, in the past and today, withstand in the name of loving their enemies, and I wonder if I could/should have tried harder to use peace and acceptance to stop the violence in my family.
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« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2009, 07:34:54 AM »

Mousse brings up some really good points, but I think the confusion for those contemplating "radical acceptance", includes wondering if this means the "non" simply "caves in" to the BPDSO and their behavior.  "Caving-in" to me is wrong and suggests one without boundaries, something that do need to be in place as well.

My opinion is that "Radical acceptance", is only "one" of the tools we can use in trying to develop a meaningful relationship with a BPD, but those tools do include "healthy boundaries"  and us being emotionally strong too.  It means we "quit trying to change them", expect them to somehow "see the light", and for us to simply accept that they are "emotionall ill" and do not see life the way we do.  As with even healthy relationships however, we still do need boundaries and to articulate those boundaries as a way of protecting ourselves.  Without healthy boundaries we are simply "offering ourselves up" to be abused, mistreated and hurt by someone "emotionally ill".  Even in healthy relationships, we have boundaries such as not tolerating abuse, infidelity, drug use and so on.  Boundaries are even more essential in BPD relationships, because they are emotionally immature, and need to learn them too.

So I see the goal here as "accepting the cards we have been dealt", and doing the best we can, to develop a lasting relationship with the person we love.  It recognizes "their" sickness/disorder (the radical acceptance part), yet still includes using tools like "boundaries", self-help, counseling for ourselves and so on, to develop the best relationship we can.  It does not mean we simply go "belly up".  It simply means we accept they "are" emotionally ill, and may never change.  It means the "non" becomes the mature, wise and understanding one in the relationship.  That does not include accepting abuse, but recognizes the "nons" boundaries may be constantly challenged too.

We all remember Christopher Reeve going from "Superman" to quadraplegic.  It took "radical acceptance" for his wife to realize he would never be the man he was, yet continue to find meaning in the relationship.  It also took tremendous radical acceptance for him to realize he would never be the man he was, but still find meaning in his life, something he absolutely did (He and his wife's foundation).

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« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2009, 07:47:32 AM »

Could I have radically accepted a slap here and there that really wasn't so painful, and could that have actually lead to some kind of improvement, down the line, when I stopped letting it be a fight for control between the two of us?  Like maybe he would have gotten tired of that when he saw it didn't have an effect, and I accepted him for who he was? He still would have been sick, and occasionally abusive, but maybe he wouldn't hit me anymore.  I got the sense that he never really enjoyed doing it.  What if I had tried harder to turn the other cheek and accept that it might happen?  Would it have changed things?

I don't think so.  Everything I've read and heard about domestic violence indicates that it increases when unchecked.

Radical acceptance is for things you can't change.  But you can set boundaries against abuse.
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« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2009, 07:53:43 AM »

My opinion is that "Radical acceptance", is only "one" of the tools we can use in trying to develop a meaningful relationship with a BPD, but those tools do include "healthy boundaries"  and us being emotionally strong too. 

[... .]

So I see the goal here as "accepting the cards we have been dealt", and doing the best we can, to develop a lasting relationship with the person we love.  It recognizes "their" sickness/disorder (the radical acceptance part), yet still includes using tools like "boundaries", self-help, counseling for ourselves and so on, to develop the best relationship we can.  It does not mean we simply go "belly up".  It simply means we accept they "are" emotionally ill, and may never change. 

I agree.

I have to radically accept that "just speaking my mind" and "just trying to get it across to her" is never going to work, no matter how many times I try it.

I don't have to accept abuse of any kind.  I don't even have to stop trying to ask for what I want. I do have to accept that I can't change what I can't change.

If I really, really wish that I were six feet tall, but I'm only five feet tall, then radical acceptance is a great tool for that situation. I have to accept that I will never be six feet tall.

I don't have to accept that I can't reach things on the top shelf - I just need to learn a different way to do it.
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« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2009, 10:03:44 AM »

I wonder if I could/should have tried harder to use peace and acceptance to stop the violence in my family.

Radical acceptance is not always obvious on the surface... .it takes time to understand it.

The key sentence in your post, Mousse, is really the one highlighted above.

Opening Post: The prime dissatisfaction for many of us is the sense that we are unworthy according to Tara Brach, PhD. We aren’t enough, we don’t do enough, we don’t have enough.  We live in a trance of unworthiness. It’s a trance because the pain of KNOWING the unworthy feelings is rather deep. So we keep really busy, so there’s no time to sit and know. We embark on self-improvement projects to try to be good enough. We avoid risks to avoid more pain. We withdraw from knowing our current experience.  We become self-critics. And like most self critics, we also become critical of others.  The trance of unworthiness involves being in close touch with a self that’s fearful, wanting, feeling alone and separate.  The self caught in desire, aversion , delusion. It means losing sight of the self who’s connected, whole, in the ‘fullness of being.’

Radical acceptance in this case most likely is about accepting that it was an unfair situation, accepting that you have some doubt - the answer wasn't black and white and that is OK, accepting that you did some things right and some wrong and that is OK, accepting that it is in the past and done - accepting all these feelings but at the same time letting go of the fears and the paralyzing aspects of them.

I hope this example helps.  It is a difficult concept to grasp (I'm just learning it myself)... .

xoxox

Skippy
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« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2009, 01:47:34 PM »

This concept of "Radical Acceptance", I am intrigued. 

There's a quote by W.W. Bartley that I found solace in as I've traveled my journey... .

"For every ailment under the sun... .There is a remedy, or there is none;

If there be one, try to find it; If there be none, never mind it."

In essence, it's much like the serenity prayer. Accept the things I can not change.

I've made necessary steps. I've accepted the chaos and have chosen to attempt to come from a place of understanding rather than embracing my resentment and discontent. Rather than knowing how things "should be" or even "could be", I've realized how things just "are".

My husband's ex wife is diagnosed bipolar/BPD. 

Right now, at this moment, my husband is driving halfway across town to appease a ridiculous request made by her but ultimately benefits the girls.  I'm not mad. I'm not jealous. I just accept it. I rearrange my thoughts just knowing that this scenario is so much better than an alternative.  He does it for his daughters, he sets the example to be followed while she sets the one not to be... .and by golly, they are getting it.

She is so much more than her mental illness. I have begun humanizing this beast I have manifested in my mind. I could never see how my husband could ever love this woman who did such horrible things to him, until I better understood her mental illness and realized that most of her actions centered around her self doubt and ultimate pain and hurt. He did love her, just like so many of the posters on this board still love their significant others. I began seeing her in a different light even though she continued to act the same.

It's just hard sometimes, figuring out where the person "who deals with it" begins and the person who "stands up for herself" ends.  The lines are hazy most of the time.  I want to be proud of how I've reacted and sometimes I'm not.  So it's a learning process.

I'm not there yet.  Just give me time. Smiling (click to insert in post)


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« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2009, 08:58:30 PM »

Almost exactly 3 years ago today, I wrote a post at BPDR about getting an unexpected phone call from the man over whom I had the breakdown that led to my eventual recovery. It was about  5 months since we had talked – and almost exactly a year since my breakdown – and I was surprised by his call, and it brought up some hard emotions, even though we talked like old friends and had a fun time. This is what I wrote 3 years ago, right after I hung up with him:

Quote from my BPDR post:

Every moment has its own beauty…

... even this intolerable moment right now, this moment of nothing but pain, tears filling up all of the space of this one forever moment. After this moment I can't get through is another one just as hard as the other. But then this moment I have now I am not crying so hard. And this moment here is bringing me a bittersweet longing that hurts, but that I can manage.


Quote from: my email to my ex, written almost one year ago exactly
The best thing I have learned about [for my recovery] is the joy of being here, now. I think that's what I meant when I told you last time we talked about happiness being portable. Every moment has its own beauty. It has been very freeing to see that I am in control of how I react to life. It's a challenge to deal creatively with boring or unpleasant moments, and I don't always succeed, but because I have accepted the moment as all I truly have, I've been fortunate to experience more - as I think you called them - moments of clarity: like while riding in a car, being annoyed by the way the sun was flickering in and out of the trees and hurting my eyes, but then just accepting it and closing them and being treated to a delightful light show of reds and yellows, like a live squirming painting that only I could see.

I really wish he would not have called in this night's moments: not after my healing 5 months of having the last of his voice fading away from my mind so that I didn't recognize it tonight at first; not this week - this week that makes it a year since... .; not during this time when I'm planning the ritual to free me of that year-heavy load of pain.

But he did call. And we talked very easily, like old friends. And it was good to hear the voice I had forgotten. Missing him felt like an ache in the very skin of me. But I was happy he was happy even though he's now very far away, I had no idea he was so far away now. And we laughed about how evil dolphins are and other silly things. And we made it okay between us again, and said goodbye again.

This moment is not intolerable even if I wish there was no pain in this one, because this moment is the only one I have and I choose - no matter what it contains - to make it precious and beautiful and all mine.


That's my take on it as a person who had BPD. It would apply to loved ones of people with BPD mostly through accepting that the person with BPD is not who you want them to be - they are mentally ill. Yes, recovery may come. But it is not here NOW. Now they are mentally ill. To accept that is to accept reality, which is a form of grace [like Skip's article mentioned]. It's "radical" in the way a radical mastectomy is: brutal, but necessary. It is what it is, not what we wish it to be. Suffering - like someone already has said - comes when what want and how the world really is don't match. So choose which one to change. I'd go with the easier one... .
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« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2009, 09:30:36 AM »

Radical acceptance for me=

I dont take abuse... he owns his feeling and thoughts... I have had to back off in my need to fix him

I accept he is limited... I accept what he can give to me... NOT what I think he should... this doesnt mean that i take any abuse though... He has subjected to to verbal and severe emotional abuse.  I realize he has an illness and it isnt personal

I accept that he will be this way forever unless and until he starts to get out of denial about his illness... (this seems to be occurring more and more)

I step back and do not enable him to effect my daily decisions as I used to .  I take care of me and make plans to be financially independent if he decides to leave. 

I have accepted that one day he may just up and leave...

I hope this adds to this thread and doesnt seem like I have gotten cold to him... in fact quite the opposite has occured...

One important step was me radically accepting MY PART in allowing the abuse to begin with
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