I had always thought that acceptance is in opposition to action, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Radical acceptance has taught me not to sacrifice myself.
“Radical acceptance” is a concept that may not sound like many, but that I have already become familiar with after a few years of therapy.
Radical acceptance is very related to the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and awareness that both influenced from Buddhism; it has a lot to do with not judging, leaving the complaints aside and, in short, accepting reality as it is instead of suffering by asking us how we would like it to be.
So I try not to judge. I try to live without focusing on my expectations, on my prejudices; focusing on what my senses perceive, on the experiences and emotions that go through me that I don’t have to take an order from “better” to “worse”.
Because radical acceptance, at least to my experience, greatly improves your quality of life. Radical acceptance makes your day-to-day, cleans you up inside, allows you to improve your relationships with others.
But since when do the people who fight against an unjust society accept without consideration the great failures of this same society, with all the injustices that govern it?
Do we not know the phrase of the Great Angela Davis, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” Since when has conformism led to any major social change?
This was, for me, the great contradiction of the therapeutic learning that I have been carrying out. It’s impossible for me to resign myself. It’s impossible for me to settle. Both as a woman and a madwoman who is violated by this society; and as a companion who stands in solidarity with sister struggles and tries to stop reproducing the learned ideologies that harm the rest of the oppressed.
I couldn’t help but wonder if we weren’t prioritizing our own happiness so that we set aside the social factors that hindered the path to this same happiness. If we weren’t even being selfish; Okay, I have a house and food and in theory, I wouldn’t have to complain, but what about who doesn’t have what I have?
And yet, little by little, I have managed to reconcile the practice of radical acceptance with my political militancy and ideological formation, with my activism in all its fields. I would even say that without practicing radical acceptance to fight for another society it would become impossible for me; I would be too busy crying out of frustration for everything that is not in my power to change, lamenting for the life I have had to live.
What I mean by all this is that acceptance is not at odds with acting. To accept that I live in a deeply misogynistic society, with a patriarchal structure, does not mean to stand idly by and watch the numbers of murders of women by macho violence growing every day. No, to accept the deep-rooted problem with which I live implies recognizing that, no matter how much right I have to complain and lament all day long, I will not change anything, nor will I be able to alleviate my pain in the face of the violence I face.
So radical acceptance has taught me what is beyond my reach to change and what is not. It taught me to move and act, without sacrificing myself afterward for not having achieved everything I wanted to achieve. It taught me to accept, not to settle, in short.
It has taught me to integrate my activism and my well-being as far as possible; because it is inevitable to suffer in a society that perpetuates our sufferings because it is inevitable that it hurts you to realize the injustices that govern this same society.
But it is not inevitable to cut back on pain when it becomes inexhaustible suffering and brings nothing to you, or to the society you intend to change. And that is that pain is part of life, but indefinite suffering does not have to be if we learn to handle it and to alleviate it in small doses.
That is why accepting is necessary to act. Perpetual martyrdom, guilt, and frustration neither make your life easier nor drive social change. If I accept my circumstances and structure in which I move, it will be much easier for me to endure the injustices that I can’t prevent at the moment, as well as those against which I can contribute my bit.
Because accepting is not and does not have to be the same as resigning oneself, rather than being satisfied. Accepting is the first step to start changing something.