February 14, 2024

Radically Accepting Valentine’s Day

Author: Catherine Herling

Valentine’s Day is a holiday where individuals feel pressure to either experience a romantic evening with their partner(s) or to reject it as a marketing tactic and waste of time. Regardless of which side of the Valentine’s Day debate is taken, there will be frustrations related to parts of this debate that are out of one’s control; your partner has to work on Valentine’s Day, you have either lost your partner or are single, or maybe there are financial barriers to spending an evening out with loved ones.

In these situations, the urge may be to despair/ get angry/ or focus on the unfairness of the situation. While those negative emotions may “fit the facts” of the situation, it also may not be effective to focus on them. When someone is experiencing such a situation, radical acceptance can allow for a greater sense of peace and ability to focus on what is within one’s control instead of despairing over what is outside of it.

Within Dialectical Behavior Therapy, radical acceptance is defined as completely and totally accepting reality as it is. Radical acceptance is not condoning the situation, it is simply acknowledging that this is the current reality and that one is experiencing challenging emotions. Life does not go as planned and that’s inherently human; there are a million choices made by thousands of people that lead to each situation, and that means that there are many pieces of a situation that are out of one’s control. By acknowledging these components, one is able to radically accept a situation and move forward towards improvement instead of being stuck in suffering. 

If one feels stuck in suffering and unable to radically accept reality, consider the following tools:

1. Allow the negative emotions (anger, despair, grief) to exist within. These emotions tell us that something is presently wrong, and that something needs to be changed in order to overcome suffering. The more it is ignored, the more intense the suffering can be.

2. Practice repeating radical acceptance mantras, such as  “This is a temporary phase of life, not indicative of my worth as a person” or “I can’t control this part of my life, but I can control my response to it”.

3. Acknowledging that life is worthwhile, even when there are periods of suffering.

4. If there is a strong resistance to radically accept the situation, consider doing a pros and cons list, focusing on what the advantages and disadvantages of radically accepting the situation are versus not radically accepting the situation.

The fact that Valentine’s Day is viewed through saccharin lens makes radically accepting situations related to this situation more daunting than ones that occur in day-to-day life. By acknowledging that the human experience includes disappointment and heartache, there is opportunity to heal and experience love and happiness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *