One of my students uses that phrase to express a deep concept of DBT, that of Radical Acceptance. When confronted with an untenable situation his response became “Well, sh*t.” It is an acceptance of What Is, not a clinging to the judgment of should be or shouldn’t be.
Another student said she really didn’t like the idea of Radical Acceptance, feeling it implied approval. So I asked how she would rephrase it. “You have to first acknowledge whatever it is that you don’t like, see it for what it is. Then ask yourself if you approve of it or not…” What is does not require your approval or disapproval, it just is. It’s not personal, it’s just information (say that in your best Godfather voice.) The question is within us, and answering it creates options of response.
It is not the information but our response to it. You can’t change what is but you can choose your response. And maybe the best response is indifference. This may prompt many readers, and their disagreement is not invalid. However, there are some things that cannot be helped or changed. The activists would cry foul on this attitude and they might be right. As Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” This is true. So it begs the question, in light of Radical Acceptance, “What, if anything can I do? What am I willing to do?” Important questions! And sometimes the answer is “Nothing.”
So my student was right – we must acknowledge What Is. Then it is up to us to choose our response. The choice is what’s radical. “Well, sh*t” is the acceptance, the acknowledgment of What Is. Then we are freed from our judgment (the “should” or “shouldn’t”); we can examine the facts as compared to our emotions and are thus free to choose our response.