In the book Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Clinical Practice, there is a chapter by Thomas Lynch and Jennifer Cheavens in which they explore the concept of what it means to be radically open. It is clear the authors put a lot of effort into explaining openness, and did a nice job. I believe that radical openness goes hand in hand with radical acceptance, which is introduced as a skill for tolerating extreme distress in DBT.
One of the things I like about the concept of openness and acceptance is that a person doesn’t have to approve, like, or necessarily welcome the circumstances when they are open and accepting. I’ve had moments of radical openness in which I can see the reality of something in front of me, and even though it is painfully sad, the ability to acknowledge and accept the whole truth of the situation allows me to move on. It isn’t like there is no grieving process, but somehow there is a way in which I don’t stay stuck. I get it. I understand it. And I can let go, sort of speak, of working overtime to impose my will on a reality that isn’t open to me at that moment.
Some of the basic principles of radical openness posed by the above authors include “deciding to be in the moment and staying available to all possibilities, looking forward without preconception or expectation, looking back without judgment or shame.” Being open to something is not “rejecting the past” or “ judging it good.” It is not “approval, expecting good things to happen, being naïve,” or “always changing” (page 275).