Saying NO to Tolerance
Tolerance is a virtue. At least I think someone said that once. Well, it's definitely a buzzword nowadays. Especially in our particular cultural circle of trying to better ourselves, help others and save all forms of life on the planet, including the planet itself. While I agree that a healthy dose of tolerance is a key to a more peaceable life (including tolerating the intolerant), just like with everything, it has a limit. So I'm gonna say NO to tolerance.
I’m gonna say the most trouble I've ever gotten myself into is when I tolerated the intolerable, when everything in my body screamed GET OUT and instead I stuck around, neck deep in situations that were sure to suffocate me. I used to take pride in having a “high-pain tolerance,” in having a “high-pain threshold”: Yeah, look how much suffering I can take. Look how many years I can endure. Look how strong and tough I am. Look how loyal I am. Look how good I am. The fact is, that was my inner-dialogue because I believed I was worth nothing. I believed I was nothing. I believed I had to stick around certain people, places and things because if I didn’t, I was a failure. If I left, it only proved how worthless I was.
Slightly flawed logic, right? And it’s worse than just that: it’s actually a trap! Because guess what kind of people, places and things I invited and allowed into my life? The kind that could never in a million years appreciate, understand or honor me! It was a constant cycle of loss. The more I gave of myself, the more “they” took. The more pain I tolerated, the more “they” gave. The more I wanted them to love me, the less they did.
The harsh truth is, that behavior is manipulation. I was doing things, changing myself, all in the name of trying to make someone do what I wanted them to do—in my case, I just wanted them to love me. As innocuous as that goal may seem, it’s still manipulation. I believed I needed that person, place or thing to be a certain way in order for myself to be okay. I couldn’t see reality—that those things would likely never look how I wanted them to, and the effort to try to change them was not just futile, it was insane.
That martyr kind of thinking kept me prisoner for many years until one day I heard “high-pain tolerance” described as more of a shortcoming than a strength. And just like that, my perspective shifted. Why be miserable? Why tolerate the intolerable? Why accept the unacceptable? Why wait (and manipulate) for things to get better when I can just leave? Especially once I’d seen the truth. Not just the truth regarding insanity (doing the same things and expecting different results), but the larger one: that my solution does not lie outside me.
My worth never came from people loving me. Or not. That belief was always an illusion. It was always a lie, reinforced and compounded by the fact that the people who I thought “should” love me were exactly the ones who couldn’t—for whatever reason. But the key here is that that “whatever reason” never had anything to do with me. Never in a million years. Because I was always worthy of love. Not because of anything I do or say or write or what I look like or what I wear, but because I am. My very existence is enough. My birthright is love. I am. And that is enough.
As soon as I saw that absolute law, I stopped pouring my energy into bottomless buckets and wasting my “one wild and precious” life. I started realizing some people, places and things will never appreciate me no matter what I do but that others will! I began valuing myself, left impossible situations, and started seeking out the new. Yes, sometimes I still get caught in old habits. At times, I find myself magnetically drawn to what will reject me. But I am getting better at leaving. I am getting better at keeping my energy sacred, at waiting to give of myself, at being less tolerant of pain. I turn my cheek, then I walk away.