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  • Writer's pictureEaston Gaines, MSEd, PsyD

Distress Tolerance: The What, Why, & How of Radical Acceptance

What: Boosting your ability to tolerate distress starts with an attitude shift. When in pain, the first reaction might be to blame, judge, or criticize. This doesn’t improve a situation — radical acceptance might.

Why: Acknowledge the present situation without judgements or criticisms. Self-blame or anger at others does not alleviate your suffering. Refocus your attention on what you can do now.

How: Here are some helping coping statements.

  • This is the way it has to be.

  • The present is all I have control over.

  • I cannot change the past.

  • All events have led up to now.

  • This moment is exactly as it should be, given what has happened before.

  • It makes sense to feel this way, even if I don’t like it.

  • Fighting the past blinds me to the present.

Ready to put them into practice? Using your newfound coping statements, begin radically accepting different moments in your life without judgement. Here are some small ways to put this into practice.

  • Read a controversial story in the news.

  • When your’e next caught in heavy traffic, wait without criticism.

  • Review an unpleasant event that happened to you and use radical acceptance to remember without judging it.

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