Examine What You Tolerate

Over the course of a day, I stumbled across the same sentiment in three different locations. The message: examine what you tolerate.

I have always gone out of my way to avoid conflict, rage bubbling beneath the surface as I sit with my head down and mouth shut. It’s only over the last years that I’ve experimented with pushing back. I choose my battles carefully; I’m learning to stand up for myself when it matters–when my own best interest is on the line.

I’ve learned the hard way that what you allow will continue.

That guy you’re seeing that keeps falsely accusing you of cheating? Yeah, he’s not going to leave you alone until you snap: until your tell him to hold up a mirror to his own insecurities; until you bluntly tell him to fuck off.

That boss that half-jokingly says that he owns you, and who flirts with you relentlessly? Yeah, he’s not going to stop either; not until you start measuring and asserting your value, blatantly saying “no,” and harshly shooting down inappropriate comments.

The bank that keeps charging you a service fee for not using their cards six times per month? The grocery store that repeatedly stocks its shelves with melted chocolate? That car salesman who pushed you to buy the warranty you had already said no to?

Confrontation is the path to resolution. It’s not easy–especially for people-pleasers like me, but it is worth it. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned sooner.

Ask questions.

Say “no” like you mean it.

Use the phrase “fuck off” when necessary. (Sometimes it’s necessary.)

Though I have become more assertive over the last few years, it’s still a challenge. I once read about the “INFJ Door Slam,” which references how the rarest personality type reacts to injustice.

Stage 1: They gives the other person the benefit of the doubt.

Stage 2: Resentment builds if the other person resorts to manipulation or pity.

Stage 3: They decide the person is not worth their time or energy; the estrangement is often silent, but merciless.

Stage 4: In ongoing interactions, they may be harsh; the other person is essentially dead in their eyes.

I immediately recognized myself. It’s true that I’ve become more assertive, but I often wait too long to voice my concern and express my feelings. I suppose I take the take the idiom “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” to heart. After a few acts of injustice or betrayal, it seems quite obvious to my throbbing heart that the behavior was intentional.

As I continue down the path towards personal betterment, this tendency is something I hope to keep in mind. Rather than allowing ill feeling to fester beneath the surface, I must practice speaking my mind early and often.

Currently, I’m in a less-than-ideal job. I have a great title, hefty paycheck, and fantastic benefits, but I’m bored to death and the bureaucracy is soul-sucking. Yet, I show up each day and tolerate the mediocrity.

My personal trainer moved away a month ago and with the loss of accountability I’ve become lazy. My strict fitness and diet regime has taken an extended vacation. Yet, I still hit the snooze button pick up chocolates at lunch. I tolerate my lack of discipline.

Examine what you tolerate. It is such a simple yet profound invitation for self-reflection and compassion. What do you tolerate? A lackluster career, cruel words, a bad relationship, or poor habits?

Examine what you tolerate and make a commitment to change the situation or your attitude about the situation.


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