Turning the Mind

by Brent Menninger

Acceptance of reality as it is requires an act of CHOICE. It is like coming to a fork in the road. You have to turn your mind toward the acceptance road and away from the “rejecting reality” road.
You have to make an inner COMMITMENT to accept.
The COMMITMENT to accept does not itself equal acceptance.  It just turns you toward the path.
You have to turn your mind and commit to acceptance OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sometimes, you have to make the commitment many times in the space of a few minutes.

We naturally want to turn away from (avoid) painful situations and turn back toward comfort.  Avoiding pain is often an automatic reaction, like pulling your hand away from the hot stove. But psychological pain is not like physical pain.  Accepting painful psychological realities requires mental effort and commitment. Turning the mind is the decision to not give up and turn to comfort or give in and turn to denial.  Turning the mind is the effort to deal with painful psychological realities without avoidance.

The remedy for suffering is commitment to acceptance again and again and again.

Life can be worth living, even when there is pain. The remedy for suffering is commitment to acceptance again and again and again. Commitment implies a whole-hearted dedication to a purpose. Commitment binds you to a course of action.  An enormous amount of evidence indicates that the commitment to behave in a particular way – or, more generally, commitment to a task, job, or relationship – is strongly related to future performance.  Committed people finish the task, do the job, and stay in the relationship.  People are more likely to do what they promise to do especially when the going gets tough.

One of the chief reasons for many failures in therapy and early termination is inadequate commitment by the patient, therapist, or both. Patient commitment in DBT is both an important prerequisite for effective therapy and a goal of the therapy. Thus, a commitment to change or to implement new behavioral solutions to old problems is not assumed.  Commitment is a behavior: it can be elicited, learned and reinforced. 

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