‘I hate how she presses the toothpaste from the middle and not the bottom’
‘Oh and let’s not even talk about the fact that he doesn’t replace the cap back on after using the toothpaste’
And then what? I ask.
Often times I wonder why is it so difficult for most of us to show tolerance towards others. Like why is it so important to have things go ‘our way’, win an argument or a game? Why does everything have to be a competition? Why do we often have to have the last word? Why do we walk away from a verbal wrestle thinking: ‘oh damn, I did show him/her’! Or ‘good, I’ve really put her in her place this time!’ why do we need to engage in a verbal wrestle at all?
We often talk about Tolerance. But do we really know what it means? Tolerance according to the oxford dictionary, means having a disposition to be patient with or indulgent to the opinions or practice of others.
I believe a lot of us have that strong competitive streak about us, which may have well being part of our genetic make-up but is also strongly reinforced by the society we live in where WINNING IS EVERYTHING.
At what point do we get in tuned to the spirit of competition? Is it at a tender age? Thinking about it now, I would suspect so; especially for those of us who have other siblings. As soon as a sibling appears in our world, we most likely begin right there and then to compete for mother’s attention. We get put out when we realise-somewhere in our first year of life that she has other things to attend to apart from cuddling or feeding us. And so it continues. God help him or her who tries to play with our toys by the time we are 2. Claim Daddy’s knee that we believe has only OUR name on it at age 3; show off the pretty dress to Sandy whose dress is nowhere as gorgeous as MINE at age 4; tell Rob next door that ‘MY’ daddy is bigger than yours, so watch out! At age 5. And it goes on and on. If we don’t have people in our world who have an understanding of these dynamics or who are unable to help us balance our natural selfishness (which is a normal part of child’s growth process) with a level of empathy and sensitivity, the competitive spirit simply grows and grows within us.
School forces us into its own competitive mold. If we do well academically, are the prettiest girl or the sportiest boy you get a lot of positive reinforcement! If not, you simply fade into the background. If you are unable to keep up with the majority of kids, happen to have a wart on your nose or suffer the great misfortune of being covered with acne, you’ll most likely be the butt for cruel jokes. If you’ve been subjected to years of this type of treatment, by the time you reach adulthood you will have absorbed tens of thousands of demeaning messages, and chances are high that you have come to the following conclusion:
‘If I am not a winner I must be a loser’
‘If I don’t conform, I just don’t fit’
‘If I don’t perform to some external standard, I’m a failure’
So then giving all of that, is it any wonder that being tolerant of others is pretty difficult? Not really!
But as easy as it is to understand, it also needs to be noted that intolerance is incredibly tough on our relationships and can be an absolute deal-breaker.
Looking at the example I gave above: how important is it that the cap of the toothpaste is replaced or that the toothpaste be pressed from the bottom not the middle. Who dies if it’s not done the ‘right way’?
Why make such a big deal out of something so insignificant? It’s ANNOYING! Yes sure but so what? Everyone has their vices but is it worth fighting over NOTHING? I don’t think so.
Am I saying that you shouldn’t address those idiosyncrasies that drive your partner crazy? Not at all! I am only suggesting that you don’t get your knickers in a knot over some habit, personality quirks or other expression of your partner’s need to retain a part of themselves in the relationship because IT SIMPLY IS NOT WORTH THE FIGHT.
Think about it- what might happen if you show a bit of tolerance?
How would it be if you lost the occasional battle?
I would like to challenge you to ask yourself how you feel each time intolerance strikes. There could be a million reasons hiding in your past that may be responsible for why you feel intolerant. Be sure to explore all possibilities and do whatever you can to get rid of any destructive baggage that you carry with you from the past. On that note I would leave you with this:
· Every so often be sure to let others enjoy the pleasure of being right
· Pick your battles wisely
· Don’t major on things of minor importance
· Always give others the benefit of doubt
· Remember that people are imperfect
· Recognise that YOU ARE IMPERFECT TOO……. and realise that the world won’t come to an end if you get things wrong every so often!
Let’s Learn to Tolerant each other.