I've been seeing a therapist on and off for a decade now. I've tried a few. From a hypnotherapist to a sex therapist to a cognitive behavioral therapist, which is who I see now. Cognitive behavioral therapy "focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems". Part of this involves different exercises you can do to shift your mindset.
I've become pretty good at these exercises. Combined with yoga, meditation, getting as much sun and nature as I can and having a good support system, I've managed to give my depression and anxiety a run for its money. But sometimes, you just need to go through it.
One day after my breakup, I felt an overwhelming sadness that I just couldn't shake. One there wasn't an exercise for. A kind of sadness that felt similar to my first bout of depression nearly a decade ago. Even though it wasn't nearly as bad, I began to FREAK THE FUCK OUT. I was scared that I was regressing. That I would find myself back in that hole again. That I would never stop feeling this way. Turns out, I was afraid of sitting with my sadness.
For anyone who has dug themselves out of a depression - kicking and screaming the entire way out, you'll feel me when I say that the last thing you want to do is feel that "feeling" again. You know, that worthless, ungrateful, frustrating, feeling of not being good enough. Smart enough. Beautiful enough. Strong enough. Talented enough. Confident enough, etc. So you can imagine my repulsed reaction when my therapist told me to just ... FEEL SAD.
I'm sorry, what?
Why would I allow myself to willingly feel sad when I worked so hard not to be? What if it opens up the floodgates back to depression? I worked too hard to get here, to go back there. But radical acceptance isn't about emotionally cutting yourself or picking at a scab. It's simply the "ability to accept situations that are outside of your control without judging them, which in turn reduces the suffering that is caused by them". In layman's terms, it's acknowledging your feelings and then letting them pass. It's feeling the feelings without being the feelings.
It's scary. OK, I'm lying - it's fucking TERRIFYING, but it hurts so much more to fight something that is only natural. Sometimes, the only exercise you can do to fight the sads is feel the sads.