For several months now I’ve been thinking about tolerance and boundaries. What does it mean to be tolerant? What is acceptable and what is just not okay with me? In some areas of my life, I am very tolerant. I am accepting of many things— believing in “live and let live”—as long as no one is doing harm to another. Yet, in other areas of my life, I have become less tolerant. I am bothered much quicker by loud noises, obnoxious people, barking dogs, litterbugs, a lack of basic manners. It’s as if, suddenly, I’ve become the “older generation” thinking the world has gone to hell in a hand basket.
It is challenging for me to look at and to feel my own intolerances— body tightening, disapproving, head shaking, separating myself from “the other.” I lose my serenity. I feel old and cranky and not hip and quite humbugish. And, I sound like my mother!
One day, still troubled by these questions, I asked my yoga students how we (I) should handle these feelings of intolerance. I got a lot of amazing answers: “Look with compassion; put yourself in another’s shoes; have empathy; spread love...” All good answers, yet I needed more.
Then I looked up the definition of tolerance.
I thought about the idea of allowing something to be without the need to react. I think sometimes we can become so attuned to what bothers us that we become hypersensitive to things that really are okay, even if those actions aren’t ones we would choose. If I could allow others to do what they do (within reason) and not label it good or bad—just different, could I learn to relax a little more in my own skin?
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