Today is Mother’s Day in the US and was celebrated on March 22 in the UK this year. Mother’s Day is celebrated elsewhere but on different days. Anywhere from February to December.

Regardless of the where and when, writing about Mother’s Day and BPD in any meaningful way is a delicate challenge, something akin to walking across a minefield while blindfolded. No matter how carefully you tread, the odds of arriving safely on the other side without setting off an explosion are slim.

Any parent/child relationship is intensely intimate, highly personal and can be extremely fragile, but particularly when the relationships involves people with Borderline Personality Disorder.

However, one way to frame that conversation is through a discussion about the concept of Radical Acceptance, a skill taught in Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Her goal is to teach people with BPD how to accept a highly emotional situation without judging or blaming anyone, including themselves. Things are just the way they are and accepting that is the first step in changing the emotional consequences that relationship may cause.

In other words, if you’re at the edge of that hypothetical minefield and you really need to get across to the other side, you should learn to acknowledge and accept the danger and find a wiser way to walk around it rather than straight across. That balance of two seemingly opposite ideas an example of what a ‘dialectic’ in DBT means.

Brandon Marshall is a recently retired American football star who, despite his significant professional achievements, battled emotional problems too strong for him to compete against. He sought help at the McLean Hospital residential BPD program where he learned about the social skills that are part of DBT. When he and Marsha Linehan both made presentations at a mental health conference they found time to have a personal conversation. Here’s what they each had to say about the value of Radical Acceptance in their lives.

You don’t have to enroll in residential treat to learn about Radical Acceptance. There are a number of sites online that discuss that, including the text of Linehan’s in depth video tutorial on the subject.


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