Radical Acceptance & The Paradoxical Theory of Change

Working as a therapist I find that most people come to therapy with an agenda of change. I feel sad, I want to be happy. I feel anxious, I want to feel peace. They want to be different in some way. None of us is a stranger to this, and on the surface it makes sense. My life is like this, I want it to be like that, so I need to move away from this, and towards that. 

But what usually happens, in doing so, is that we set up an internal battle with entrenched and very real parts of self. Once battle lines are drawn, those parts of self go into lock-down, and it becomes very hard for things to actually move or change in any deep way. 

In Gestalt Therapy theory, this is called, “The Paradoxical Theory of Change”, and it is stated like this: “change occurs when one becomes what she is, not when she tries to become what she is not”.

Of course, it is not often an easy thing to “accept” those aspects of self that we experience as unpleasant, painful, ugly, and otherwise ‘not okay’. Acceptance of traits does not mean that we necessarily celebrate those traits, but simply that for now we accept that they are a part of us, and recognise that there is probably a good historical reason for us being the way we are. 

We soon find that rather than leading to stagnancy or stuck-ness, a radical acceptance of what is, is the most effective starting point for lasting and authentic change. 

Please join us this Thursday and Sunday as we dance our inquiry into embodied radical acceptance.