Radical Acceptance: An Option When Life Throws You a Lemon

I was introduced to radical acceptance in my first semester of grad school. No, it is not a rock band from the early 2000’s. Radical acceptance is a practice in which one fully embraces the reality they are experiencing as opposed to resisting that reality. It is meant to be utilized when life challenges us in ways that are difficult to accept. I thought to myself, “How could anyone fully accept an uncomfortable reality?”. That really meant, “How could I fully accept an uncomfortable reality?”.

                You see, when life throws me a lemon, I am not the kind of person that breaks out the juicer and invites the girls over for lemonade. My mind works very differently. Instead, I figure out what grocery store that lemon came from. Then I contact the manager of the grocery store to find out where their lemons are imported from. I calculate the rate of lemon maturity to research weather conditions for the months the lemon trees on that farm bore fruit. I also make it a point to call up the lemon tree farmer to ask him if he is truly happy. While I am running around in circles investigating the origin of this lemon, the lemon rots. Ironically, I am still in the same place as where I started. Life has still thrown me a lemon. However, I can no longer use that lemon to make lemonade.

                My mind tells itself that if I can figure out all the details of how and why something happened, I will solve the problem. This is how my mind deals with things it does not want to deal with. I avoid facing the issue head on. I try to figure out how I could have prevented the problem instead of dealing with the problem that currently exists. It is a terribly exhausting and dysfunctional way of functioning. So, I started practicing radical acceptance over a year ago. It takes time. However, I have found that it can be very freeing to accept reality as is and just move forward. I give myself a day or two to process my emotions and then I let it go. I no longer question, “Why did this happen?” and, “How could I have prevented this?”. Instead, the dialogue has changed to, “Why is this reality uncomfortable for me right now?” and, “How can I move forward?”. I process the lemons. I make the lemonade. I invite people that support me to have a glass with me. Then I move on.

                Radical Acceptance Lemonade:


  • All the lemons you are thrown
  • As much honey as you need
  • Cold water


  • Juice lemons with preferred juicing method and add lemon juice and honey to blender
  • Blend ingredients until smooth
  • Combine results with cold water and enjoy!        

If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this and are in the state of Illinois, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 – 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

Written By: Hillary R., Masters Level Intern 2023

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