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Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance is a DBT exercise that can help you or your client deal with intense negative emotions and experiences. Use this worksheet to identify, consider, and understand a situation or emotion you are struggling to accept.

The goal is to help you acknowledge that you cannot control every aspect of what you experience. Rather, you can accept this lack of control and choose to respond mindfully instead of reacting emotionally.

This acceptance can help you move beyond the distress you experience without trying to change or control the situation.


For each step below, draw a box or designate a space for it.

  1. Determine or specify the problem or situation that you find problematic or painful. You may need to “chunk down” the moment to avoid being overwhelmed.
  2. Describe the role your behavior played in this situation, keeping in mind that you do not control others’ behavior.
  3. Next, recount how others’ behavior contributed to the situation.
  4. Then, try to determine what you could control and what you could not.
  5. Write about your reaction to the situation. The prompts should help you differentiate between emotional (often impulsive) reactions and mindful responses.
  6. Think about the impact of your reactions on those around you.
  7. Identify more mindful, considered ways to respond in the future. Remember and try to accept that you can only control your own actions and behaviors. Acceptance is about appreciating that we cannot control others behavior. We can, however, control our own actions in a way that minimizes our distress when we find ourselves experiencing difficult situations.

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