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Narcissists and Radical Acceptance

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.


Radical acceptance is the total acceptance of life on life's terms, and it is especially important when dealing with narcissistic people. So much hardship is caused directly by a person's refusal to accept the narcissistic person or family situations as they are. The problem with this is that someone's refusal to accept the facts doesn't change reality of these facts. It doesn't make them not facts. It just makes it harder for that person to assess the situation realistically and to heal. When you can't heal, you remain bound to this situation, the pain and it continues to affect your life.

There are many reasons people might resist reality. It may be that reality is painful, unfair, difficult to understand or hard to believe. But resistance to reality doesn't work. Things are what they are and refusing to accept them does not change that. It only causes more problems. If you refuse to accept that your car is out of oil and you keep driving it, eventually the engine will lock up and it will be totally ruined. Ignoring problems does not make them go away; on the contrary, it usually makes them worse, and continuing to use the same unsuccessful methods to deal with something does not work, either. It is a difficult lesson for many people but it's one that really needs to be learned in order to reduce the amount of distress in your life. You can't avoid pain or painful situations, but you can mitigate the way these things affect you by accepting painful situations for what they are.

Not accepting the realiy of a situation allows it to control you, and worse than that, it causes you to still be hurt by something, even if it is not happening anymore. When someone does not accept the truth of a situation, it causes the event or situation to hurt them over and over again, instead of just once or sometimes for years after it is no longer happening. If something happens and you resist the truth of this thing, then not only are you having to deal with the hurt of the situation when it happens, you have to deal with it over and over again every time reality asserts itself. For example, if a relationship ends, a person may be hurt badly by that. But if they refuse to accept that and keep attempting to re-establish the relationship, they will be hurt again and again the same way every time this fails. This does not have to happen. Accepting the facts of the situation allows you to start healing.

It can be hard for people to accept things that have hurt them. The word "acceptance" sometimes bothers people as well, because sometimes people assume acceptance means agreement. Just remember, accepting something doesn't mean that you agree with it. It means you understand that this is how it is, and you can accept something without agreeing with it or condoning it. For example, you can accept that your coworker received a promotion and you didn't, even though you don't agree with that result and don't like it. It's important to work at accepting things. When something has not been accepted, people cannot move on from it. They can't let their anger or wishes surrounding the situation go. There is no healing with such raw pain still affecting someone. The first step to healing is acceptance.

Sometimes when people are very angry or have been very hurt, it is extremely difficult to accept that this painful thing has happened, or that they need to move on from it. However, it is essential to your well-being to do so. Sometimes people feel like if they accept what has happened, they will be allowing the situation to go unpunished. This is understandable but the reality is, holding onto anger or other powerful, destructive emotions for too long is not hurting anyone but you. The person who hurt you is not being harmed by your anger. It isn't teaching them anything, or you. It's not easy and it must be processed correctly, but it is in your best interest to release anger when it no longer serves you. Underneath that anger is pain, it's a wound, and until the anger has been processed, the wound cannot begin to heal.

As hard as anger is to let go off, hope can be harder. It can be very difficult to accept that the things you want are not going to happen, and it can be tempting to keep trying to achieve them. Of course we should not give up on our dreams and we should always try our hardest. However, there are situations where continuing to pursue something is unhealthy. For example, if you are in an abusive relationship and you continue to stay in it or return to it because you are chasing that happy ending, this is unhealthy. The facts are very clear that this relationship is toxic and damaging, but you are refusing to accept it. Maybe you make excuses for this person, or you justify their behavior. Maybe you just flat out deny that these things are abuse. It's important to find out why you are doing this, so that you can challenge your thinking and accept reality before you are hurt even worse by the situation. You cannot change reality by refusing to accept it.

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The truth is that it's less painful to accept something and deal with it than it is to deny the reality and be hurt by it over and over again. The pain is actually made worse by not accepting the situation, because when something is denied, it becomes more powerful. Each time reality asserts itself and is denied, the painful feelings the person is trying to avoid become stronger. This can result in a serious mental and emotional crisis when reality is no longer able to be denied and that tidal wave of feeling finally breaks through. Honesty and acceptance are the way to avoid that. Pain must be dealt with. It cannot be denied, it cannot be refused and it cannot be pushed away. It will keep coming back and expressing itself in different ways until it is acknowledged and dealt with. Resisting this is only making it harder on yourself. The key is learning to deal with it correctly, and a big part of that is accepting it instead of trying to avoid it.

Practicing radical acceptance doesn't mean being passive. It doesn't mean do nothing. It doesn't mean not trying. Radical acceptance means radical acceptance. It means giving up the idea once and for all that you can control other people's feelings, thoughts and behavior, or that resisting reality changes anything and simply accepting these things for what they are. Resisting reality does not change reality. It only affects how effectively you are able to deal with it. Honesty with yourself about yourself and the world you live in will go a long way toward mitigating how much painful situations affect you. You do have a choice, even if it doesn't seem like it right now. You cannot control the world or the people in it. You can only accept these things exactly as they are - whether you like them or not - and deal with them accordingly. With acceptance comes healing and making the decision to take control of your life by saying that these things will not affect you any longer than necessary can go a long way toward true healing.

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