Tolerance is often understood as our capacity to endure whatever happens to us.
However, to endure something is like letting the thing that makes us uncomfortable accumulate, and repressing our discomfort until we’re no longer able to withstand it any longer. As though sacks of cement were being piled on our backs one by one, and we don’t say stop until we’re already buried.
To tolerate, according to the dictionary, means to indulge or condescend. To indulge means to be able to forgive and, to condescend is to give consent or to accept.
This means that being tolerant doesn’t have anything to do with making ourselves suffer in order to allow someone else (or even ourselves) to do what they (we) want without consequences, rather, it means to accept and forgive, when you, or someone else, fails to act in the way you were expecting.
To be able to accept what you can’t control, accept your own errors and forgive them, as well as forgiving others, is to be wise to the fact that each of us is trying, within our own context, to fulfil our role, to the best of our abilities. And that most people will never have the opportunity to reflect on the impact their actions might have on the lives of others, or even on their own lives.
One way of training tolerance is to include, in your routine, moments of contemplation or meditation. By doing this, you will learn how to break out of reactive mode whenever you want.
The resulting proactivity you develop will mean you’re able to express disagreement in a timely manner, without adopting a tone that is aggressive or threatening. What’s more, it’ll allow you to forgive when someone else doesn’t understand your point of view.
In this way, the world around you - and your own internal dialogue – is no longer capable of smothering you, and you no longer get stressed at anything or anyone that doesn’t meet your expectations.
And, talking about expectations…
Train your self-perception in order to identify the expectations you create, when you create them, and the importance you assign to them. Remind yourself that the more time you dedicate to thinking about your expected outcome, the greater your emotional involvement, and the greater your tendency to get frustrated too.
This will influence your degree of tolerance. Because, in the end, if your expectations are high, it normally means you believe yourself to have control over what’s going on.
For example, say you have a presentation coming up at work, even if you prepare, and expect it to go really well, this doesn’t guarantee that everything will go according to plan.
If, on the other hand, instead of creating grand expectations of the outcome, you do your best to prepare, while understanding that you, as well as others, and even systems, can fail?
In this case, it’s more likely that you also prepare yourself to deal with any unforeseen circumstances, meaning you’re more present and more relaxed when it’s time for your presentation, and you can use your capacity to adapt to overcome any difficulties and get good results, whatever happens.