Celebrities of DBT: Lady Gaga's Journey to Radical Acceptance and Living in the Moment

7 min read

DBT’s global popularity is growing fast, a fact underscored by the advocacy of high-profile individuals who have publicly shared their personal journeys of healing and empowerment through Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Among these advocates is the global superstar and mental health advocate, Lady Gaga, whose candid discussion about her experiences with DBT offers both inspiration and insight into the practical application of its principles.

Behind the Poker Face — Lady Gaga Opens Up About Her DBT Journey

Lady Gaga may have fame and fortune but her life has not been an easy one and she’s needed to learn mental health skills in order to survive and thrive. During a candid interview with Oprah in 2020, Lady Gaga opened up about how DBT has played a pivotal role in her mental health journey. This conversation not only provided a platform for discussing the importance of mental health but also highlighted how DBT's principles can be life-changing.

Just Accept: Gaga on Radical Acceptance

One of the core components of DBT that Lady Gaga emphasized was Radical Acceptance. She vividly described how embracing this principle helped her navigate through pain and mental health challenges. "I have radically accepted that I will put my shame in a box all the way over there...and I'm gonna share them with the world and make it a better place," Gaga shared. 

Radical Acceptance, as she detailed, involves acknowledging reality as it is, without attempting to change it. This acceptance led her to a profound realization: "I have mental health issues, I take a lot of medication to stay on board, and I'm a survivor." Gaga's journey underscores that through accepting our circumstances without judgment, we can diminish our suffering and pave the way for healing and growth.

A Double-Click on Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance is a core skill in DBT, designed to help individuals stop fighting reality, accept their situation, and begin the process of healing. It's particularly useful in situations where you cannot change the outcome, and resistance only causes more suffering. Here’s how you can practice Radical Acceptance:

  1. Acknowledge Reality: Start by acknowledging the situation exactly as it is. For instance, Lady Gaga had to acknowledge the reality of her chronic pain and mental health struggles without denial or resistance.
  2. Recognize What You Can't Change: Identify which aspects of the situation are beyond your control. Accepting that some aspects of life, such as past events or other people's actions, cannot be changed is crucial.
  3. Focus on What You Can Control: Shift your focus to what you can influence, such as your reactions, thoughts, and behaviors moving forward.
  4. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions arise without judgment. Gaga put her "shame in a box all the way over there" to manage her feelings constructively.
  5. Engage in Mindful Acceptance: Practice mindfulness to stay present with your experiences without letting them overwhelm you. This involves observing your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.
  6. Act According to Your Values: Let your values guide your actions, rather than your momentary feelings or the situation itself. Gaga chose to share her experiences to help others, acting on her values of kindness and advocacy.

Always Remember Us This Way: Gaga on Throwing Yourself into the Moment

Another DBT principle Lady Gaga touched upon was the concept of "Throwing Yourself into the Moment." This skill encourages individuals to actively engage with their present experiences, fostering mindfulness and presence. Gaga illustrated this by highlighting the importance of small actions, saying, "even if you only make it to the bath and you don't make it to the mirror, you did something." This practice is about cultivating bravery and kindness towards oneself, a reflection of DBT's emphasis on mindfulness and active engagement in life's moments.

Lady Gaga's commitment to kindness as a universal healing principle further demonstrates the influence of DBT on her perspective. "Kindness heals the world," she asserts, underscoring the transformative power of compassion towards oneself and others. Her dedication to mental health advocacy, coupled with her personal practice of kindness and gratitude, showcases the profound impact DBT principles can have on individual well-being and societal change.

A Double-Click on Throwing Yourself into the Moment

Throwing Yourself into the Moment is about engaging fully with the present, regardless of your emotional state. It encourages you to keep moving forward, using mindfulness and active participation in life. Here's how to practice it:

  1. Identify One Small Action: Start with something manageable, even if it's as simple as getting out of bed or taking a bath. Gaga emphasized the importance of doing something, no matter how small.
  2. Engage Fully With the Task: Focus all your attention on the task at hand, using all your senses. Notice the sights, sounds, textures, and any other sensory experiences associated with the activity.
  3. Practice Mindfulness: Stay present and mindful as you engage in the activity. If your mind wanders to worries or negative thoughts, gently bring your focus back to the task.
  4. Acknowledge Your Effort: Recognize and acknowledge the effort you made to engage in the moment. Celebrate small victories, like making it to the bath, as steps towards greater well-being.
  5. Extend Compassion to Yourself: Be kind and compassionate towards yourself, regardless of how much you were able to do. Understanding and patience are key components of throwing yourself into the moment.
  6. Build on Small Actions: Gradually increase the challenges as you become more comfortable with this practice. Each step forward builds your confidence and resilience.

Thank You, Lady Gaga, For Demystifying Mental Health Through DBT Advocacy 

Lady Gaga’s openness about the challenges she's faced and the strategies she's employed to overcome them serves as a powerful testament to the effectiveness of DBT, providing hope and encouragement to those struggling with their mental health. It’s a strong message that even today’s most successful and glamorous public figures need to employ skills like those DBT offers from time to time, and reminds us all that we are not alone.

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