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How I Used Radical Acceptance

happyI’ve lived with schizophrenia for almost ten years now and throughout that time the one thing that has hounded through recovery and otherwise is the paranoia that people were making fun of me. It has been a constant fear that causes me to freak out, sometimes at the most inopportune times and it’s been a major catalyst in my recovery and for a lot of the things I do.

The problem is that I was living under that fear, I was constantly afraid of people doing or saying something negative about me that I acted in a way, down to my body language in a way that I thought would please them the most.

This is no way to live.

I was afraid that people would make fun of me so I stressed myself out to the point of damage to fit other’s conception of me.

It didn’t matter to hear the words “People are only thinking about themselves” or “You’re not that important” or “People don’t care.” While I now realize all these things are true I couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone hated me, that they were all making fun of me and I tortured myself because of it.

That is until a therapist gave me words that didn’t register until a few months down the line, when I was no longer in her care.

Those words were the most transformative words I had ever heard but it took me getting to a point of absolute frustration for me to give them a try, and once I embodied those words things changed literally overnight.

She said, “It’s ok, just accept it.” By that she meant the fears that I had for myself that I was projecting onto everyone else.

I can remember just sitting on my porch thinking and I broke and said, “I accept that everyone’s making fun of me.” What followed was the deepest most therapeutic breath I had ever taken.

While the notion may not have been true, it meant that I didn’t have to fight it anymore and that people are out of my control. I can’t do or say anything in exactly the right way for them to like me and if they really are making fun of me, that’s on them.

I repeated that mantra for days afterward until I felt a feeling of security I hadn’t felt in years.

I was trapped in a jail of my own making and trying everything I could to fight it, but it turned out that not fighting it was the single greatest way to combat it.

I have taken the idea of acceptance to most things that bother me now and it’s proven to be a simple, stress-relieving way of dealing with things that are out of my control. It’s the biggest thing that has helped me on my journey to recovery and I’m pretty sure it can help you too.

If you have something you’re fighting against, with every breath, try becoming friends with it and accepting it.

The fight is the hardest part and once you realize you don’t have to fight your world will be changed.

That’s just my two cents. It worked for me, if you’re afraid of something it might work for you too.

How I Used Radical Acceptance

Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). How I Used Radical Acceptance. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 2 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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