• Jolene Roehlkepartain

Radical Acceptance and Radical Action

How do you spend your time wisely in radically accepting what you cannot change and radically acting to change the things that you can?

This is not an easy question.

Twelve-step programs often begin and end with Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer that says: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Radical acceptance does not mean condoning behavior or a system. It’s about using our energy wisely to accept what we cannot change without endorsing it.

Radical action means doing our part to make things better—in ways that we have influence.

Both of these concepts greatly challenge me because I tend to spend too much energy fighting things I can’t change and being passive in actions that I can take. I’m not alone.

Around the world, millions of people meet in 12-step programs to wrestle with these concepts and learn how to accept and act—in effective ways.

“We spend our time and energy defending our life rather than living it fully,” says Tara Brach, the author of Radical Acceptance. “What would it be like if I could accept life—accept this moment—exactly as it is?”

The answer to this question holds the key to our radical acceptance and our radical action.

For me, the challenge is to work through the mixture of emotions that pop up so that I can be at peace with radical acceptance and gain the courage to act in ways that matter.

May we all find that courage.

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