"Dance when you're broken open."  ~Rumi

 

In DBT radical openness combines Sufi wisdom (such as described by Rumi) with research on neurobiology.  This approach was created by Thomas Lynch, Ph.D., who describes the practice as follows:

 

"At its most extreme, radical openness involves actively seeking the things one wants to avoid in order to learn.  It entails advancing courageously to the source of the unknown with proper humility. . .  Radical openness means being alive in this moment without preconception.  It requires a willingness to sacrifice former beliefs to more fully discover what the world has to offer. . .

 

Radical openness encourages self-enquiry.  Self-enquiry requires a willingness to question one’s beliefs, perceptions, emotions (or lack), and behaviors without falling apart or simply giving in.  It involves creating a healthy sense of self-doubt and acknowledgment that, on some level, we are responsible for our perceptions and actions in a manner that avoids harsh blame of self or others. The ultimate goal of self-enquiry is not new knowledge or great understanding, per se, but instead the practice of enquiry itself.  Openness and self-inquiry function therefore to alert us to areas of our life that may need to change while retaining an appreciation for the fact that change is not always needed or optimal.  Indeed, sometimes being closed is what is needed in the moment and/or change is not necessary.

 

Radical openness differs from radical acceptance because it involves purposefully and actively questioning one’s biases, preconceptions, and/or habitual response tendencies and blocking automatic response that may function to avoid, regulate, inhibit, accept, or defend oneself.  Whereas radical acceptance involves letting go of fighting reality, radical openness challenges our perceptions of reality.  Indeed, radical openness posits that we are unable to see things as they are, but instead that we see things as we are. . . 

In addition, rather than involving a sense of peace, radical openness by definition is almost always painful; because it requires contact with the unknown and acknowledgment that our inner knowing may sometimes be an illusion and/or a type of confirmation bias that functions to avoid change."

 

​© 2014 by Angela Klein, Ph.D.

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