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  • Writer's pictureSubha

What We Learned About Radical Acceptance

There we were, in March 2020, wondering how many weeks it would be before we could just get back to whatever we were up to.

Here we are in May 2021, still fighting the fire of Covid. Hadn’t we curbed it? Hadn’t we said our happy goodbyes? Had we not, at the turn of the year, said that 2020 had thrown a curveball, but this would definitely be our year?

The thing about situations that creep up on us is this- we prefer denial. It isn’t that no one saw the second wave coming, we just wished it wouldn’t. So, we held on- to hope and a prayer, wishing that the number of positive cases on the rise was an anomaly- a cruel practical joke nature was playing to remind us that if we just mask up, we’ll be fine.

And yet, this is no joke, and it certainly isn’t practical. Mourning periods have been taken away from us, replaced instead by worry. Worry for another life that might be cut too soon, worry for the supply issues that we cannot control.

As we paint this grim picture, you might wonder- where is the radical acceptance in this?

We did, too.

And that’s why we’ve penned this, so we may grieve together, be petulant together, be angry with the forces of the universe that suddenly seem deaf to our plight.

Radical acceptance isn’t so much about bowing our heads in the face of the storm, then, but about being flexible enough so we do not break- for ourselves, and for the people who love us, of which we know now that there are many.

In no particular order, here’s what we learned about radical acceptance in this time gone by. Do we get to say ‘gone by’ yet?

1. Our grandparents, arguably of a generation that saw India’s Independence movement and its gory aftermath pan out, often told us, “When there’s a storm brewing out there, one doesn’t walk with their head held high.” We dismissed it until April 2021 came to be. Then, we bowed, because the instinct for self-preservation is strong.

2. To accept something does not necessarily mean to be in love with it. Acceptance is an objective emotion. It is the ability to say, “it is what it is.”

3. Affirmations seem to help immensely when it comes to radical acceptance. The next time panic or worry takes over, try saying, “You be you. I’ll be me.” Repeat this several times a day and see the magic happen.

4. We cannot hate that which we cannot see. How do you hate a pandemic? Instead, often, we’ve turned that hate inward, morphed it into fear and anger for ourselves. Our plight. Our choice to be in the exact time and space when a pandemic pans out. However, this really is a losing battle.

5. Radical acceptance, then, is about being willing to forgive ourselves for this blame we’ve channeled towards ourselves. Denial and anger are protective mechanisms, and our brain was just doing its job.

6. When not completely caught up in the thick of things, we’ve tried to imagine the pandemic as a wild animal, or a heavy grey cloud. Doing this helps us channel our energy into managing the situation rather than being overwhelmed by an abstract entity.

7. No two situations are alike, and gratitude is a long stretch from where we might currently be. With that in mind, how about we reach for the next emotion, and the next? Because anger is more empowering than sadness, and boredom is one step away from anger too. Maybe this way, we reach gratitude, somewhere, sometime, for the life that we do have, and the opportunities it still presents.

8. Having made this list about radical acceptance, we’d just like to come clean here and mention that we did arm-wrestle our parents and our children into staying home. Yes, even when they’ve not been completely happy about it. Because as humans, we need to control something.

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