If you're a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) veteran, you have probably heard of the story of the man and his yard and dandelions. If not, allow me to tell you the story now. There was a man who took pride in his yard and he did everything he could to make it look perfect at all times. He loved to have it perfectly pruned. Every blade of grass had to be just so. He finished his lawn maintenance and looked on with pride. As he was beaming at his hard work, he noticed a dandelion in the middle of his perfection project. He wasn't going to stand for this at all and immediately got to work to get rid of the unwanted weed. He tried to cut it out of his lawn, but more grew back. He decided he would try some weed killer in an attempt to get his unblemished lawn back. It worked for a while, but then the dandelions grew back again. Becoming very frustrated now, he decided he would start all over with his lawn. This would surely fix the problem. He bought fresh sod to lay down in his yard. Finally, everything was perfect again! He thought he had finally beaten the battle with the persistent dandelions. With a feeling of triumph, he beamed at his lawn once more. Then he saw it. Another dandelion!
The man was out of ideas and sought help from a landscaper. The landscaper told him that dandelions aren't something you can permanently avoid. They're going to happen, and maybe he should learn to work with the dandelions and love them instead. They're beautiful in their own way, and they are always going to be a part of his lawn, whether he likes it or not. The man was too tired to keep fighting the dandelions and decided to take the landscaper's advice. He still loved his lawn. It was his space and his hard work. He took pride in it still. But he was no longer angered by the occasional dandelion. He smiled at them now, knowing they happen naturally. The point of this story is radical acceptance, which is a critical component of DBT. Sometimes, we need to accept that things are how they are, and we have to figure out how to adapt to them. To be happy and fulfilled, we have to accept that there will be things out of our control, and the best way to work through that is to use distress tolerance techniques we learn through DBT and adapt to the undesirable fact. On a personal note, radical acceptance is challenging for me. I'm that person that feels the need to control every aspect of my life at all times. Since being introduced to DBT, I've learned that I cannot control everything, but I CAN control my reactions to things. This is a crucial lesson to learn in your DBT journey and will serve you well in every part of your life.