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What are you tolerating, and what is it costing you?

Tolerance says "This is something I don't like and I can't/shouldn't change, so I just have to endure it." It may feel like a lost cause or low priority. There is this implied "have to" that makes us feel powerless, annoyed, and maybe resentful. It also creates stress: a kind of low-grade pain that just eats at us quietly, draining our energy and enthusiasm.

But what other choice do I have?, you might think. Plenty.

While there are clearly some things we can't control, the good news is that we always have choice. We have a choice on how we look at the situation and how we respond to it. If we make it a priority or if we continue to suffer. If it feels helpless or useless, we are most likely under too much stress to see our options. But options exist.

Feeling confident, feeling empowered is about noticing when we tolerate, looking at the situation objectively (without fear, doubt, shame, guilt, anger, or overwhelm) then deciding you will make a conscious choice on how to respond. You may not like it. The choices may be hard or take some consideration, but you aren't helpless.

I believe we fall into tolerance when we want to avoid uncomfortable situations - things that scare us or require us to face hard truths. It's almost like if we tip toe around it, it will go away. If we pretend like it isn't there, it will no longer be our problem. Those are fantasy ideas. Reality will persist. You can fight it or ignore it, but it will keep reminding you that it is there. That's why tolerance costs us. We have to keep enduring it.

And tolerance comes in all kinds of forms. It could be an uncomfortable chair, a messy room, the way someone talks to you, an injury, a pile of bills, a telephone call you need to make, a dream you aren't acting on.

Wherever you are putting up with something and it is draining your energy, you will find tolerance. It might look like coping, justifying or rationalizing something you don't like. Denial and tolerance go and and hand. But you have the power to fix it by addressing it head on.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  1. What are you tolerating?

  2. Why do you think you don't have a choice?

  3. What might you be avoiding or afraid of, or what are you protecting yourself from?

  4. What is tolerance costing you?

  5. If you couldn't feel fear, what could you do about it?

  6. What do you need to take that action now?

You have the answers and you have the power to handle uncomfortable things with confidence. It just takes facing what is real, focusing on what you can control, and taking the right action even though it is hard.

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