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Accepting Reality in Trying Times

Tips for accepting the reality of what's happening around us.

Nashville, Ark. - Turn on the nightly news, read the newspaper, experience life. Sometimes bad things happen that we have no control over. We can’t change people’s behaviors or the reality of what is happening. Sometimes these experiences can be painful. Radical acceptance is a coping skill that helps us evaluate situations and work to reduce unhealthy behavior and feelings, such as resentment, anger, hatred, or shame.

            Radical acceptance does not mean you approve of the situation, are giving up, or that it isn’t painful. You should still feel. By accepting that it is what it is, you give the problem less power over you and you can begin to move forward.

            Accepting reality is a process. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Notice when you are fighting against reality. The first step in accepting reality is gaining awareness that you’re resisting it. While this may seem like it would be easy to spot, there are many subtle ways that people push against reality. If you’re feeling bitter or resentful, wishing things were different, or thinking about how life isn’t fair, you might be fighting reality.
  • Remind yourself you can’t change the past. Before you can make peace, you must acknowledge that there’s no going back to the way things were. This may be challenging and painful, but by recognizing what you can and what you can’t control, you can focus on coping strategies to help you move on.
  • Embrace your feelings. You might be feeling angry, scared, overwhelmed, or lonely – that’s perfectly normal. It allows you to work through them. Experiencing these feelings without judgement is healthy.
  • Imagine that you are accepting reality. If you are struggling, imagine what it would look like if you did accept reality. How would you act? What would your next step be? Changing your behaviors and actions to reflect the outcome of “pretend acceptance” can help you to shift your thoughts.
  • Relax your body. Feeling stressed about the situation leads to tense muscles. Stress is a common factor associated with resistance and keeps your mind on high alert. While it may be hard to do, physically relaxing your body can help you feel more ready to accept what is reality. Try exercising, walking is great way to relax, take a relaxing bath or shower, use deep breathing exercises, or get a massage to help you relax. There are many free “apps” that you can download to help with breathing and relaxation.
  • Use coping statements. It’s okay to talk to yourself in a healthy way. Use positive statements. For example, you might say, “It is what it is.” “It happened.” “I can accept things the way they are.” “I can control my actions and reactions.” You might even want to write down your statements and post them where you will see them often. Repeating and reminding you can help you get through difficult situations.
  • Know that it takes practice. Accepting reality will not happen overnight. It takes time. Start by trying it out in smaller situations, like when your internet is not working correctly. By practicing radical acceptance daily, it will be easier to use it as a coping tool when bigger problems arise.

     Does it work? According to Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization that works to promote overall mental health, it does work. There have also been numerous studies that show the power of positive thinking. For more resources on coping, stress, or the power of positive thinking, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service which is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. You can also check out our website and click on life skills and wellness. Our office is located on the second floor of the courthouse. You may also call our office at 870-845-7517.

Our recipe to share with you is Angel Food Pastry with Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream.

  • 3 Tablespoons Angel Food Cake mix

  • 1/8 cup low-fat, vanilla yogurt

  • 3 cups berries (raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries)

  • 2 strawberries, slice1-2 Tablespoons light whipped topping

  1. Scoop 3 Tablespoons cake mix into a microwave safe cup.

  2. Add yogurt and stir. Microwave for 1 minute. Let cool for 1 minute.

  3. Using a table knife, cut around the sides of the cup to loosen cake.

  4. Dump onto serving plate. Top with 1 Tablespoon of whipped topping

  5.  Spoon fruit on top of whipped topping. Garnish with whipped topping. Yield:1 serving

       Nutrition information: 161 calories, 2g fat, 259mg sodium, 34g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 4g protein, good source of calcium and potassium



By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.