Ever since the COVID-19 virus outbreak and the ensuing crises, I’ve noticed something about myself. I’m becoming increasingly intolerant of other people. Perhaps it is because of the increased isolation, or the fear and concern, or the frustration over the ongoing failure of leadership during these crises. Maybe all of the above. But the net effect has been that I’ve been more moody and irritable than normal (just ask my husband!).
For example, I’m annoyed by people who refuse to wear a mask in public. Like the older lady who went to the store with her two able-bodied daughters, none of them wearing a mask and the older woman openly coughing and not well. How is this a good idea?
The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
Or my neighbor who has been running his commercial landscaping business from a residentially zoned housing development for more than 3 years. Every time one of their three Ford trucks hooked up with their large trailers carrying lawn mowing equipment, filled with debris and stuff, drives down our narrow cul de sac and turns around, not once a day, but twice a day, sometimes going a little too fast, well, I get irritated. We have spoken to him, the town has spoken to him, and still he insists that he is not running a business out of his home. I know he needs to earn a living and he employs others and helps them earn a living. Still, I find myself angry and intolerant at his disregard for our zoning parameters in our neighborhood.
And then there’s the teenager who speedily drives his white Jeep up and down the street multiple times a day without regard to the older people walking, parents pushing baby strollers, people walking dogs. We also have spoken to him about his speeding, and also his father, but the speed and frequency continue. I worry for his safety and the safety of the people and pets living in this community. But mostly I’m just pissed at him. My tolerance level for him is very low. Why?
I don’t want to turn into a “Permit Patty” kind of person, or the annoying neighbor who is always calling the police with petty complaints. Why am I struggling with intolerance these days? This doesn’t feel normal to me.
To help remind myself of how I want to be and behave, I’ve been doing a little meditation, and some deep breathing. I’ve been focused on the keyword as my daily mantra, TOLERANCE.
I thought that maybe a few of you might also be struggling with a higher level of intolerance during these crazy times, full of unrest and uncertainty. To help us all, I did some online research and found this helpful blog post on The Chopra Center website. I reached out to the co-writers of this blog post, Dr. Melissa Carver and her husband Leo Carver, and secured their permission to repost their article from 2016 in its entirety. I also learned that Dr. Carver will be releasing a new book this fall. Check out her bio at the end of the blog post.
[originally posted on 10/20/2016 on The Chopra Center blog site]
Feeling annoyed by your co-worker or that person who just cut you off? Don’t waste your energy. Learn how to cultivate a spirit of tolerance in your life.
Most people have trouble being tolerant with others. As a living, breathing society, everyone is constantly learning and adapting to each other—it comes with the territory. But cultivating a spirit of tolerance can bring healing and meaning to your life in unimaginable ways.
Tolerance is your ability to deal with the disagreeable. It’s your capacity to withstand the “yuck” in your life and other people. Sometimes, someone’s disagreeable nature can simply be an annoyance, while other times, it may be much more intrusive.
The practice of tolerance, however, is more about your relationship with yourself instead of with other people. Tolerance can be thought of as emotional or mental perseverance:
- How long are you able to deal with the disturbances that others cause you?
- Are you able to do it with a spirit of grace and confidence?
- Do you prefer to be indifferent, ignoring the person or situation?
- If the behavior is unlikely to change, how do you deal with them?
These are questions that take time to consider. When you feel yourself intolerant of someone else, remember the following insights. They can help you deal with yourself and others in order to cultivate the benefits of a life filled with tolerance and stillness.
Own Your Feelings
When something bothers you about someone else, it is good to remember that it is bothering you. The other person may not even be aware of your feelings, let alone be prepared to change because of them.
Keep in mind that your feelings are your own and that you have the right to self-mastery in your life, just as the other person has sovereignty over themselves.
Try to see past the person and situation into your own annoyance. Look within yourself to find the source of your problem:
- Are you not receiving something that you want or need?
- Is the focus not on you?
- Is the other person saying or doing something that you wouldn’t allow yourself to do or say?
- Why are you annoyed?
Check Your Ego
Often other people are simply disrupting your flow. When your stillness is disturbed, your ego may desire to retaliate. A mental or emotional line is being crossed and therefore you feel frustrated. This inner tension can be your ego showing anger at the fact that your personal attention has shifted.
When you are bothered by other people, you are no longer focused on what you were doing. This is upsetting to the ego. Remember you are not your ego, but rather its source. By recognizing ego concern for what it is, you can cultivate the ability to limit the importance of some of the things you feel.
Meditation can help cultivate tolerance. You can learn to tolerate some things about others simply by discovering they’re just not that important. The things you take issue with don’t have to define the person or the experience.
By calming your spirit, you can learn to check yourself before reacting. Start by routinely checking in with yourself during stressful experiences or people. You will begin to react with more grace and patience and be able to offer the best version of yourself.
Remember Change Is Imminent
The universe is always changing, always happening. And as such, everything has its moment to be. You, also, can change from one moment to the next. This dynamism can be seen as a blessing when cultivating tolerance.
Be mindful of the fact that no matter how pestering an annoyance can be, it is only temporary. The majority of people in your life are only around you in certain circumstances or for a certain amount of time. Those closest to you only bother you at times, but are otherwise agreeable, or they wouldn’t be around.
Use Your Power
Put aside your raw, emotional reaction when dealing with frustrating experiences and you’ll find that the experience inherently must change. It is your attachment to the feelings behind the experience that allows it to linger.
You have the power to control how much an annoyance affects you. Even if something about a person bothers you, you can always shift your focus to more agreeable aspects of the person or experience.
Learn to allow life to bug you and then go away, without any lingering effects.
No matter how likeable you believe yourself to be, someone out there is or would be annoyed by you. With the numerous spectrum of thought and behavior among humans, it’s impossible to be accepted by all. Chances are, somebody has put up with you at some point. Ask yourself:
- Have I ever rubbed someone else the wrong way?
- How did they react?
Remember your own faults and that life has given you grace. Even in your worst times, someone has shown you kindness and patience. It will serve you well to pay that kind of grace forward.
Practicing patience with the disagreeable aspects of people in your life will help you become more tolerant. The universe allows room for all of your decisions and behavior, while working around them and through them. Seek to mimic this tolerance in your own life. Cultivate centeredness that will be there inside you through everything and everyone. It is empowering and noble.
About the contributing writers
Leo and wife, Dr. Melissa Carver, offer a wide range of mental, emotional, and physical health guidance. Leo is an Ayurvedic teacher and consultant while also in his final year of studies to become an Ayuvedic Practitioner.
Melissa focuses more on the mental and emotional health that helps us to manifest our goals and experiences. She is also the author of the new book, Who the Hell Told You That?, to be released Fall of 2020. To stay up to date on that release or upcoming events you can read other blog posts and also sign up for the free newsletter at drmelissacarver.com.
Or connect with Melissa and Leo on social media: