Have you ever heard of Radical Acceptance? Believe it or not, this word has the potential to transform the way you approach your life and vitiligo. “Radical acceptance” (Linehan, 1993) is all about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot change. In other words, radical acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.
Imagine that you want to audition for a role. A casting director agrees to call you for an audition. You wait for days to get a callback. Soon you get to know that he is signing a different girl for the role because he didn’t want to ask a girl with skin patches for the same. That shouldn’t happen. It isn’t fair. But it did happen. The pain is the loss of an opportunity that you really wanted. You have every right to feel sad and hurt. But suffering is what you do with this pain. Yet, suffering is optional; pain is not.
Vitiligo and Radical Acceptance
It’s difficult to accept that you have vitiligo; it’s not what you want to be true. But, when we are dealing with a skin condition that has no cure, it’s best to become its friend, rather than considering it our enemy.
I hear many people with vitiligo saying, “This isn’t fair,” “This can’t be true,” and “Why God chose me for this.” We think refusing to accept the truth of living with vitiligo will keep it from being true. But, remember – It’s exhausting to fight reality, and it doesn’t work that way. Refusing to accept that you look different than 99% of the world’s population doesn’t change the situation; instead, it adds to the pain you experience. Besides, destructive behaviors like gambling, drinking too much, overspending, emotional eating, and overworking may help avoid pain in the short run, but they only make things worse in the long run.
Accepting reality is difficult. But vitiligo is part of your life now. You can stop suffering by practicing self-acceptance in vitiligo.
A Place to begin
Radical acceptance is a skill that requires practice. Know when you will practice radical acceptance, you will still feel sad, but you don’t want to add the pain of non-acceptance to a heap of emotions and make things worse. Accepting the truth and doing the best will be less emotionally painful, and likely more effective.
As a daily exercise, turn your resistance ruminating into accepting thoughts like, “I have vitiligo. I don’t approve of it, but it is what it is, and I can’t change how I look now.” While doing so, focus on your breath consciously. Just notice thoughts you might have. Let these thoughts pass. Say to yourself an accepting statement like “It is what it is.” Practice it repeatedly. With more repetition, you will start looking at vitiligo with less distress.