Why do we Tolerate that which doesn’t Serve Us?
Why do we put up with bull?
Why do we tolerate problems that don’t have to present in our lives?
What We Can and Can’t Control
Unfortunately, there are some things that we can’t control. Disease, natural disasters, war, etc. are often things that are beyond our control.
But. luckily, we can control many aspects of our life.
For instance, you can control things like your breath, your self-talk, and your attitude. You can also decide whether or not you communicate your thoughts and feelings.
In addition, we can also control many of the relationships and circumstances that don’t serve us.
God, Grant Me the Serenity
I have the Serenity Prayer prominently displayed in the main hallway of my house. I believe that it is a good mantra for life. It reads:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
In other words, change what you can, and accept what you can’t. And, of course, don’t bullshit yourself about the difference between the things that you can and can’t change.
Sweat the Small Stuff
Maybe it is the leaky faucet that we hear dripping every night as we go to sleep, maybe it is the lukewarm coffee that we get at the drive thru on our way to work.
Either way, even small annoyances can have a BIG impact.
Instead of tolerating the annoyances, do something to eliminate them. Changing your environment can have a big impact.
I went to a Feng Shui workshop years ago and heard a story that has stuck with me for years. The Feng Shui instructor told the story of a client who had a picture of the Eiffel Tower prominently hanging in her home. The artwork was very tasteful and fairly expensive. When the Feng Shui instructor saw it, she thought that it suited the client and her home.
But it turns out, that this picture ended up being a source of disharmony for the client. Turns out, this picture was purchased years ago, when she was with her ex-partner. The relationship didn’t end the way that the client wanted, and the picture reminded her of the heartache that she experienced at the time.
Well, this picture was prominently displayed in her home.
She went by it SEVERAL times every day.
And EVERY time that she went by it, she was either consciously or unconsciously reminded of the old partner and the unhappy ending.
Clearly, the picture was not serving her for a long time. But, the picture remained prominently displayed in her house for all that time.
Why did she hold on to it when it wasn’t serving her?
- The picture had a monetary value. Maybe she felt that removing it would be like throwing money away. Or, maybe she didn’t want to spend the money to replace the picture with another.
- Replacing the picture takes some time and effort. If she removed the picture and wanted to fill the space with another picture, she would have to spend time finding a new one that better suited her and the space.
- She didn’t evaluate the cumulative negative impact of the picture. While she sometimes recognized that the picture conjured unhappy thoughts, she discounted the impact of experiencing these thoughts frequently, over a long period of time.
After the Feng Shui consultant explained the implications of this repeated toleration, the client removed the picture. Soon after she found a new picture, she also found a new partner who was more suited for her.
The Big Stuff
Big issues like relationships and job situations can be complicated.
And even the best relationships have their less than ideal moments. That is, sometimes, relationships and jobs present stressful situations that we need to accept and tolerate. Nothing is perfect, and “if you look for perfection, you will never be content.”
However, sometimes, we tolerate relationships and jobs are far from perfect when we shouldn’t put up with them.
For instance, you need to rid your life of situations that are:
- Constantly draining your energy and repeatedly making you unhappy
- Consistently making you feel unappreciated
- Keeping you from showcasing your talents and passions
- Providing no value for your time investment
Why Do We Tolerate it?
Personally, I have had several experiences with tolerating situations that didn’t serve me.
In the past, I have been guilty of staying in “friendships” and romantic partnerships that didn’t serve me.
I have stayed in jobs that haven’t served me.
Well, there are several reasons..
Sometimes, I felt guilty. Other people may be hurt by my decision.
Other times, I was trying to give the situation time to work itself out.
Or, I was giving the person an opportunity to act differently after letting them know my feelings.
Other times, I was in denial. I either consciously or unconsciously failed to see that I was foolishly tolerating the situation that I was in, instead of acting to change it.
Sometimes, I was giving the person or the situation another opportunity. After all, we know that we sometimes misinterpret the situation at hand or the behavior of others. I firmly believe that people and situations are multi-faceted; until we have had an opportunity to view all of the sides, it isn’t always worth giving up.
But, in the end, tolerating the situation that really annoyed me, never served me.
Have the Courage to Change It
We all know that change is difficult.
Letting go is not easy.
Sometimes, we are more comfortable staying in our current situation because taking action can be scary. Taking action means that we will have to be somewhere new, an unknown place that may be the same or worse than we we are now. BUT, what if we create a better situation?
What if we find a better job?
What if we increase our income?
What if we find a partner who is better suited for us?
What if we are simply happier and more energetic because we aren’t experiencing a time, monetary, or energetic drain anymore?
Analyze first, Act second.
I am not suggesting that you write off everyone and everything the moment that it annoys you.
Mediate about it.
Discuss it with an unbiased close friend or counselor.
Pray about it.
When appropriate, share your feeling with the person/people who is/are involved.
Then, if you determine that it isn’t for your highest good, stop tolerating it and let it go.
Tell yourself that you deserve better. Life is too short to tolerate.
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