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User Topic: Radical Acceptance
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Default  Posted: 6:03 PM, March 30th (Sunday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Yes, Brokesmile. It is about not getting stuck or staying stuck. It's not denying anyone their right to anger and pain, either. And it's not something I would encourage someone to employ early on, as the expression of anger and pain is healthy.

Accepting that it happened is one thing. I think the radical part is accepting that factors beyond our control (as BSs) set it up to happen. Accepting that factors in the other persons life set it up to happen, and releasing a value judgement on it. That's what's so very, very difficult when the consequences are our ability to feel safe and protected.

In my situation I can see "how" this happened. I can see how the culmination of everything I knew and didn't know at the time out my WS in a position to air the worst decision she's ever made. Just because I can see how it happened doesn't mean she has an excuse and it doesn't minimize my pain. It doesn't take away her shame or my right to anger. It doesn't make me feel any safer in the relationship, either. What it does do, is it allows me to figure out, based on what I now see from both then and what WS is doing now, how I will best be able to move forward and heal. Instead of insisting she should have done something differently, I've accepted that it happened, looked at how it happened and based on that I know that I need a, b, and c to move forward.

Also, for rachel, accepting doesn't dictate what needs to happen in the present or future. It gets us to a place where we can look at it and decide how to approach it in the present for our future. For some that means moving on from the relationship, and that's ok. We just aren't in an emotionally healthy place to make that decision when we are stuck in what should have happened, maybe.

Some have noted that the concept is used for victims of trauma, which is true. The idea of it, however, is not limited to this application. It is rooted in Buddhist teachings. We can utilize this tool for anything in our lives that gets us stuck. Anyone in any situation that causes then to think "if only" can benefit from applying this. I have to express concern that we would shield anyone, including our WSs, from feeling worthy of utilizing this concept as a way to heal. One might even argue that the realization of what they were capable of doing to severely hurt the person they love is somewhat traumatizing. Regardless of whether you can embrace that idea or not, there doesn't have to be trauma on ones life to benefit from the concept.

WS: 39--2 EAs
BS: 39--me, faithful
DS: 6
9 year relationship in R.
DDay #1: September 6, 2013 EA for 5 weeks August 2013.
DDay #2: January 2, 2014 EA for 6 weeks summer 2011.
"I am still learning." -Michelangelo

Posts: 693 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Midwest
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Default  Posted: 6:36 PM, March 30th (Sunday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

If it has helped you move forward, then it is an excellent tool for you.

I do not, however, see the value in it for myself. I don't see a problem with insisting that she should have done something differently and accepting that it happened - they are not mutually exclusive in my consideration.

I question using the words "meant to be" - meaning is the same as choice, unless you are defining a predestined event or divinity. It doesn't require a meaning beyond a poor choice for there to be acceptance of the reality it happened and cannot be undone. Working on the idea that all events before that lead to it and it could not have been any other way is just not a concept I care to entertain, because it neither works for me nor is it in any way a comfort to me.

I would not feel comfortable had my wife gone this route, one of several reasons being there was some armchair Buddhism involved in some of the reasons provided shortly after dday. If this has helped others to move forward then excellent. A good tool is a good tool.

"You have insulted my footwear."

Posts: 7469 | Registered: May 2010 | From: USA
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Default  Posted: 6:50 PM, March 30th (Sunday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I can "accept" this (pun intended). Once I learned the details of my H's childhood, from his years long CSA from the only father figure he had at the time, his physical abuse at the hands of his older brothers, the fact that every adult he knew well (including both parents) were adulterers and then I learned about risk factors for infidelity, which he had almost a full house of, including late nights working alone with adoring younger women, blah, blah, I actually said "we were doomed". I am actually a bit surprised he didn't destroy our marriage sooner; none of his 3 brothers have made it; one cheated on his wife with men. Since as hard as I tried I could not get him to address the issues I was aware of, he did not get help until he hit rock bottom.

How do I know this was inevitable? happened.

Does it excuse him? Of course not. Does it help me understand, even have some compassion? Yes.

Our college age son, who deals with ADHD among other issues, struggled with alcohol. We counseled him, nagged him, reasoned with him. He was "fine", he had it under control. Finally, he ended up in the ER after falling down the stairs drunk. His girlfriend was fed up. He was now a bit older. He was finally ready to face the fact that he needed to stop, and he did. I accept that we were powerless until he was ready.

In both cases I will have no tolerance, or acceptance, of these behaviors in the future. Once these risk factors are identified IMO then it becomes the person's responsibility to figure out how to rectify them. I imagine our son will get more chances, but my H will not.

Dday -9/24/2012

Posts: 1748 | Registered: Oct 2012 | From: northeast
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Default  Posted: 8:09 PM, March 30th (Sunday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I question using the words "meant to be" - meaning is the same as choice, unless you are defining a predestined event or divinity. It doesn't require a meaning beyond a poor choice for there to be acceptance of the reality it happened and cannot be undone. Working on the idea that all events before that lead to it and it could not have been any other way is just not a concept I care to entertain, because it neither works for me nor is it in any way a comfort to me.

Agree. Didn't learn of Radical Acceptance meaning that in therapy class. Saying "it couldn't have happened any other way" feels like it's assigning a judgment or meaning to it, and I think that's not quite Radical Acceptance. There's this idea in DBT of willingness vs. willfulness - saying "it's the only way it could have happened" (instead of leaving it at "this situation did happen") feels like willfulness to me, holding the situation too tightly. It doesn't feel effective to say it couldn't have happened any other way (at least to me), because in the situation (like infidelity) a person willfully ignored other tools available. The radical acceptance is "Yes, the WS did willfully ignore those tools, that situation did happen, and it cannot unhappen" and maybe even part of the radical acceptance is that yes it COULD have happened another way, but it DIDN'T. Acknowledging that there were other tools and ways it could have gone is valuable - because then the WS might learn willingness to use better tools next time (ones that were available before) and even learn new ones.

The point of DBT is to give you tools to make healthier choices and take control of your symptoms. Accepting reality of what happened, but then also learning all the other skills - distract with ACCEPTS, IMPROVE the moment, Pros and Cons, etc - gives you the opportunity to manage your life.

Find peace. Or sleep on it.
Sometimes my monkeys, sometimes my circus.
Infidelities are like icebergs - they may take many different shapes and sizes, but they all damage your ship.

Posts: 3905 | Registered: Jul 2011 | From: California
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Default  Posted: 8:46 AM, March 31st (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I love this thread! I'm learning so much about how people conceptualize this tool, how it helps some but not others, and how different takes on it contribute to healing in different ways. I keep posting because the exploration of it interests me.


When I was taught DBT the facilitator actually said, "It happened because it was supposed to happen." At the time, we were discussing incidents of childhood sexual trauma and rape. The class went silent. I was appalled! How could he suggest that rape or child molestation was "supposed" to happen? I changed the wording for when I use it to "set up to happen." It's a gentler way of introducing it, and it's easier to take than "supposed to" or "meant to."

As I read your response, I think we are essentially saying the same thing, but in different ways. What I was taught was that if it could have happened a different way in the space and time that it did happen, it would have. In recognizing or accepting that, we are free to explore in hindsight what could have been done differently and acquire the skills to make it happen differently going forward. By freeing our minds from "what should have happened" in that particular moment with all the perceptions and tools that the WS had or didn't have, we are better able to explore "why did it happen" or "what set it up to happen" to change the present and set up a better future. Saying "you could have done this" is different than asking "what needs to happen so that you can do this in the present and future?"

I have to be aware, however, that I operate from a position of being able to move forward with an understanding and empathy for the poor decisions of others that harm me. I am better able to have compassion when I can look at what was done and rationalize the "hows" and "whys" that explain behavior in a way that that describes the person's emotional state so that it is steered from intentional pain or hurt caused to me. Of course I'm angry that I wasn't a thought. I'm angry and hurt that I wasn't considered. If I take the time to understand how the decision was made that hurt me (not TO hurt me), I'm better at being able to help us both heal in the relationship. It becomes less of a reflection of a lack of love for me and more a reflection of how broken my WS was. I know that she loves me, and even loved me then. I know that she didn't have the experience or the tools necessary for making a better decision at that time. Should she have? Hell yes! But I have to accept that she didn't, or it wouldn't have happened. Knowing that, and knowing that she is not only accepting the responsibility for what she did and how it happened helps me move forward. As long as she knows and is demonstrating the change and exploration needed to secure our relationship helps me move forward with her. Conversely, if I understand how it was set up and she didn't recognize it or explore it or work to change it, then I wouldn't be able to stay. With either outcome, I am set up to make the best decision for myself, and there is a freedom in that.

But that's me. There are many ways to skin a cat. I respect everyone's personal journey toward healing. This is a great tool used in varying ways to help those who find themselves stuck. Everyone finds their own path, and each one is valuable and worthy. I have learned so much on SI. Regardless of how we are all similar in our situations and in the patterns of our experiences, the differences among us have highlighted wonderful ways we are all unique. I have found valuable support and healing with those who agree and those who disagree. Being challenged helps us grow and find strength in ways we never thought possible. I thank every person who posts on this site, for every post helps me grow through this process.

WS: 39--2 EAs
BS: 39--me, faithful
DS: 6
9 year relationship in R.
DDay #1: September 6, 2013 EA for 5 weeks August 2013.
DDay #2: January 2, 2014 EA for 6 weeks summer 2011.
"I am still learning." -Michelangelo

Posts: 693 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Midwest
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Default  Posted: 9:00 AM, March 31st (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

It seems like this concept may relate to the 'regret vs remorse' conversations on SI too. That poster that said it best for me;

Regret says, "my decisions turned out badly, I need help getting out of these circumstances I got myself into."

Remorse says, "I made the wrong decisions, I need to change my entire life so those sorts of decisions aren't attractive to me anymore."

I love this defenition and it helps me to come back to a focus on what I want for myself as well as my partner in what he wants. If he doesn't want to change his life, we'd be finished our journey.

Anybody watch 'True Detective'? Fascinating to see a WS protrayed who did not work on real change in his life, and for me to see how set-up he was for another A.

me, BW: 34
FWH: 35
Dday: Feb 2013
LTA for 2+years
children: 2 boys age 3 and 6

Posts: 380 | Registered: Aug 2013 | From: nova Scotia, Canada
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Default  Posted: 4:56 PM, March 31st (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

If you take any of our WS back in time to when they had their A--and they couldn't take any knowledge of the time from then through now--they will make the same decisions and end up in the same situations.

This isn't because it's their destiny or fate. This isn't because their cheating was meant to be or because they had no other options. It's because they would still be the same broken people with the same crappy decision-making and coping skills. Our WS would make the same god-awful choices EVERY SINGLE TIME because that's who they are or were then. Yes, they could have made different choices then but they didn't, and they never will make different choices being the person they were during that time.

That's my take on what's meant by something being "set up to happen."

To be in R that has a chance, our WS have to figure out why they made those choices in the past and change enough so that those choices are never made again in the present.

DDay: 2013
In R

Posts: 84 | Registered: Oct 2013
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Default  Posted: 9:29 PM, March 31st (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I've heard the term "radical acceptance" but never knew much about it. Been avoiding this thread simply because the title made me recoil seeing it here on SI. Just imagined it being too "Oh honey, it's okay, I'm just so open and accepting. We're all sexual beings after-all and you need to feel the freedom to be YOU and explore your sexual being."
But I actually like this. The "set up to happen" made me a little uncomfortable but I kept reading and found it very freeing for me. This is where I am right now, fighting with acceptance. Still trying to somehow undo the past. But I agree that our WS's would have done the same thing again and again, if they were re-thrust back into the past with no knowledge of what they know now. So yes, I agree with radical acceptance. And further, rather then letting a WS off the hook, I think it only further illustrates how completely screwed up or broken a human being they are, and how much work they need to do to become a safe partner and successfully reconcile. Because yes, they are (until they do the work) a walking disaster. A threat to their marriage, their family, themselves and other marriages and families out there. That is what the focus needs to be, not in what they could have done differently, because without the change, they wouldn't do ANYTHING differently.
ETA - What catlover said really resonates. I remember coming on here shortly after d-day saying things like "I can't believe..." "I never thought in a million years..." but the more I learn about infidelity, brokenness, FOO, boundary issues, KISA tendencies - I really have started to look at this in some sick way as it was "set up" to happen. I just didn't know enough about the reality of infidelity to see what a threat WH was, and he had no idea either. Now, sadly, we know. So it all culminated in one gigantic disaster. This is definitely a healthier way to view things rather than getting caught up in past "moments of decision" that neither of us can erase and rewrite.

[This message edited by naivewife at 9:40 PM, March 31st (Monday)]

D-day #1 - 1/23/13
false R, then...
D-day #2 - 3/26/13
I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons. - Hippocratic Oath

Posts: 342 | Registered: Feb 2013
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