The 3 Scariest Changes In My Life I’m Forcing Myself To Accept With A Smile

Accepting my “Now” makes tomorrow less terrifying.

photo of author courtesy of the author

Earlier this year, I accepted a challenge I didn’t completely understand.

Andrea Miller, the founder of YourTango had just written a book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love and was looking for people to spend 60 days trying to apply the tenets of “radical acceptance” to their personal life.

I hadn’t even read the book yet, so I volunteered without really knowing what I was getting into. I had no real idea what to expect in the end. Pure happiness? Guilt? Abundance in realization? Good fortune for my future love life?


That confusion quickly changed to skepticism as I began reading the book. Would I really be able to apply this to my real life? To my surprise, however, after reading all of the book, I found myself inspired and actively working to achieve the personal goals laid out in the book’s framework.

I used to think of myself as someone who always accepted everyone for who they were and for what they contributed to this world, in big or small ways, and I still do. But I was forgetting a huge part of that — accepting myself too!

The concept of Radical Acceptance — the idea of working hard to extend empathy to all of the people in your life (including you) — is helping me accept myself for who I am and what I have to offer, from my greatest achievements to all of my worst shortcomings. 


I have to say, the philosophy of Radical Acceptance came at a very pivotal point in my life where some huge changes lie ahead for me, so I was extremely grateful for the 60-day challenge.

Here are the three biggest areas in my life where Radical Acceptance has helped me the most over the past two months:

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1. Accepting myself as a young woman graduating college this spring…


Photo: Author

I have so much anxiety about what’s to come in my near future — first big-girl job, living on my own in Manhattan, and supporting myself financially are amongst the big ones.

Before Radical Acceptance, I would stress and build up unwanted anxiety, creating sleepless nights and endless days of being worn down. This resulted in a vicious cycle that where I would end up taking my bottled-up anxiety out on the people closest to me.

However, instead of my old ritual, now I’ve taught myself an alternative way to relieve all that stress. In coming to terms with my faults and my shortcomings, I’ve realized that all of those things that make me tense… all start with ME, with my thoughts and my actions.


It’s up to me to accept my attitude, my outlook on the bigger picture, and all the crazy thoughts running through my mind. By being more aware of those impulses, I am able to not let the future stress me out anymore (well, not nearly as much).

2. Accepting my long-distance relationship with my close-knit family…

Radical Acceptance goes beyond the brink of my current relationship and it extends into all my connections with family and friends.


I am now more aware of myself and I truly do “Stop, Think, Introspect” — one of the book’s core beliefs — when communicating with those that I love most, especially my parents who are so far away from me now.

We see each other at least once or twice a season, though, lately, it’s been more often, for which I am grateful. But now, when we talk, I feel that I’m putting more value behind my words. I’m listening a little harder and appreciating our conversations that much more.

Just the other day, I was on the phone with my mom, receiving some unsettling news from back home. Before unloading all my emotions at once and asking my growing list of questions — which would have been my normal reaction and the last thing my mom needed to hear — I took a deep breath.

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I retreated from my usual over-emotional reaction in order to really communicate with her, to openly accept what she was telling me. I felt as though I was really able to be there for her by listening and extending calm compassion, even though I’m thousands of miles away. It was a wonderful moment.

3. Accepting finding love in an unexpected way...

When I first heard about Radical Acceptance (which was more than 60 days ago to be clear), I was single and not interested in dating really at all. I had just moved to New York City to finish my senior year of college and felt way too busy to invest time in changing my current relationship status.

In the back of my mind, I figured it would happen when I was ready. Friends back home would ask if I’d met a man that works on Wall Street yet and I would honestly joke that I hadn’t had a chance to look. (Not opposed to the idea at all.)

In all seriousness, I was really very single six months ago. At the same time, I was getting to know a guy through a mutual friend who had recently moved to the city. I was introduced to him as someone to “show me around.”


After a few meet-ups, I began getting to know him as a friend who was always up for a good time. He made me laugh and we had a lot of fun together. Easy-peasy. In fact, it was so easy-peasy I didn’t even realize I was already kind of dating him.

Fast forward to this spring when things picked up and we started to see each other more regularly. We quickly changed from being casual friends to definitely dating.

Enter the Radical Acceptance 60-Day Challenge and things have really come full circle.

I have never felt like this before. I’ve loved a man before and received love in return, but I did not radically accept myself or him back then. However, today, in my new relationship, I’m able to analyze and project my own voice in our romance with extreme confidence.


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After being single for a while, my guard had been up to keep people from getting too close and protecting me from ever getting hurt again. When I met my new guy, I was way less vulnerable than I’d ever been in a relationship before.

But, after familiarizing myself with Radical Acceptance for two months, I now feel as though I can truly and fully let someone in again.

Andrea Miller says, “When you open your heart, he will feel it. And most important, you will feel it,” and that reigns true in my relationship today.

So, 60 days later, I now understand my challenge. The challenge of bringing Radical Acceptance into my life — which was easier than expected because the concept is so universally and unilaterally applicable — has affected my life in ways that I never saw coming. And, for that, I will be forever grateful.


Halie Retterath is a Yourtango contributor who writes about lifestyle and relationships.

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