Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Reprinted from January 2013.
“Being tolerant allows us and others to adapt, to change and grow in positive ways.”
After the recent presidential election, tolerance, especially tolerance for the intolerant, more than anything, has been pressing on my mind and specifically these questions:
What is tolerance and what role does it play in being a good person?
What role does it play in survival?
So I pulled the thread on my curiosity triggers and this is what I discovered.
Tolerance is probably one of the most important qualities we can possess that directly supports and sustains our long-term survival. The best definition that I found for tolerance is the character quality which enables us to accept the unchangeable. In a nutshell, being tolerant allows us and others to adapt, to change and grow in positive ways. It allows us to develop integrity of character so without it, our characters can be lacking, deficient, inauthentic and not reflective of our full potential. The emphasis and value of tolerance in the Serenity Prayer is obvious.
Let’s explore this a bit more.
To be good, to be people of integrity, we have to want to be good people, understand what that means, and work hard to continually improve. Our actions must mirror our words that stem from our beliefs and our knowledge. We must practice what we preach to build these qualities in ourselves and more so, our characters, and to positively influence others and have healthy relationships. We must look at experiences including the unpleasant ones as opportunities to learn and become better versions of ourselves. Tolerance allows us to be psychologically resilient to that which we do not like or agree with. It allows us to disagree and lose without judging not only others but ourselves.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin
It allows us to minimize negative feelings like anger and hatred that can do us and others harm. It allows us to live in peace within ourselves and with others. It is the core to living in serenity.
On the other hand, to be intolerant, prevents us from adapting to change and hinders our growth. Hindering our growth creates an obstacle to our character development that is harmful not only to ourselves but also to others. It impacts us setting up goals that will nurture our souls and feed our self-worth and self-assuredness. Being intolerant prevents us from becoming our authentic selves by self-sabotaging our own happiness. Intolerance is the core to terrorism, bullying, scapegoating, and abuse.
So if being tolerant is a key to peace and happiness and personal growth, how do we acquire it? Well, like anything that is not free or tangible, through wanting it and through hard work, by making mistakes and learning through other tolerant individuals with high integrity of character. Our characters are incrementally built through life experiences and mistakes and successes. We gain the skills, knowledge, and abilities through our actions and words that stem from beliefs we validate through our life experiences and our personal interactions. This is how our characters develop and become chiseled permanently into our being.
“Tolerance allows us to be psychologically resilient to that which we do not like or agree with. It allows us to disagree and lose without judging not only others but ourselves.”
Here are some tips that will help in learning to become more tolerant and teaching tolerance to others:
- To become tolerant, learn to be tolerant of yourself first.
- Be mindful of what annoys you and what triggers your anger. Work on being tolerant of your own intolerances and healing the wounds that caused them.
- Learn to approach everything with a “I can live with it” rather than “I must agree 100% with it and win” attitude. Avoid black and white thinking that focuses only on good or bad outcomes and winning.
- Be careful to understand the difference between rejecting the “sin” and not rejecting the “sinner.”
- Learn to identify the signs unhealthy environments and relationships.
- Self-assess to focus on what you can and need to change that triggers your intolerance. For example, do you need to remove yourself from truly toxic environments and toxic people. Read more here on how to remove toxic people from your life.
- Avoid the scapegoating mentality. Focus on everyone’s strengths instead of their weaknesses to prevent playing favorites with some while minimizing others.
- Accept that every living thing has purpose, has value.
- Accept that every person will grow and develop at different paces and with different levels of enthusiasm and maturity.
- Accept that everyone is good at something.
- Accept that your parents are still growing in character and are not perfect.
- Demonstrate kindness and acceptance to all, not just those who are popular, pretty, or who you are comfortable with or think like you do.
- Look at conversations and interactions as opportunities to learn. Refrain from complaining about what you disagree with or do not like in others. Do not judge others based on them agreeing with you or not. Welcome those disagreements or differences as motivations for you to learn more, for you to become a person of integrity.
- Do not judge a book by its cover. Get all the facts and listen before you develop an opinion.