Radical Acceptance and Easing Into Our Circumstances

Published February 13th, 2024 by Alexandra Sredni, Psy. D., PLLC

As a woman, I find myself wondering whether the feminist movement has entirely freed us or has our freedom evolved into another way we have found to be hard on ourselves about our limitations? This question may resonate most strongly for women who have committed to their profession at the expense of having kids, women who have chosen to dedicate themselves entirely to raising their children (despite their professional aspirations), or women who have chosen to pursue their careers at the expense of raising their young children. For new mothers the conflict around trying to maintain a professional identity, while also meeting all of their young children’s needs can be very stressful. Without even realizing it, many women find themselves striving for perfection in all areas of their life and slowly becoming unhappy. Many must confront the double-edged sword that motherhood has bestowed upon them: a strong desire to engage creatively and the weight of the work required to care for young children.

Those who remain professionals often experience guilt about time lost with their little ones. In a similar vein, women who commit themselves to motherhood often feel insecure when comparing themselves to others who are excelling professionally. Feelings of inadequacy and guilt seem to paint both paths. Many mothers find themselves asking, “Did I make the right choice? How does that beautiful professional on Instagram make motherhood seem seamless? How Can she be so successful, while caring for three kids under the age of five?” Some may question their decisions to leave behind careers while raising young children, while others may doubt their choice to leave their children in the care of others in order to pursue their professional endeavors.

If you are a woman reading this article and you feel claustrophobic by your choices, know that you are not alone. Many women struggle with feelings of imperfection, privilege, guilt, inadequacy, selfishness, among others. Often, having the freedom to choose is both a blessing and a curse.

You may be wondering what is the solution. The Buddhist principle of ‘radical acceptance’ emphasizes the importance of embracing your circumstances fully and accepting all the elements that make up your life. This entails letting go of a sense of perfection and beginning to surrender to the messier parts of your life. The work focuses on accepting ourselves as we are right now. Being hard on ourselves for our choices is actually a subtle aggression against ourselves. Practicing acceptance doesn’t mean changing anything, it means accepting who we already are. Instead of swimming against the current begin surrendering to all that you are.

‹ Back