The Healing Balm of Tolerating the Things We Don't Prefer
We can quell anxiety during tough times by choosing healthy, rational thinking.
Posted Jan 17, 2021
Some people say that death and taxes (probably not in that order) are inevitabilities in life.
Whilst I am not sure that taxes plague every human on this earth, and whilst I am fairly certain that our passing some day is something that only future mind-blowing scientific discoveries could prevent, there is one thing that can be witnessed in many people much of the time, and that is the tendency to make ourselves miserable. We do so not because of outer circumstances, but because of our thoughts about, and attitudes to, outer circumstances.
Countless people are not aware that they have the power to control their emotional destinies by thinking things through, by thinking clearly and rationally about issues and circumstances that we don’t prefer, and by practicing HFT, High Frustration Tolerance.
When we demand that things be different than the way they are after we have exhausted attempts to change those particular things, or when we have no ability to change those circumstances, then the wise and self-caring thing to do in the short term is to be willing to accept what we cannot change, to take time to self-soothe and keep things in healthy perspective, to focus on that which we can be grateful for despite and including the issues we don’t like, and to attend to life-enhancing and pragmatic actions such as a healthy diet, exercise, sufficient rest, and doing things to help other people.
I am writing this post early in 2021 while the global pandemic continues to rage, and I include a few specific references relating to that event, however the recommendations regarding choosing our attitudes and the benefit of exercising HFT apply to practically any challenging situations regardless of the time, year, location, and circumstance.
If you are reading this, you are one of the lucky ones. You have survived the pandemic. You are still here. You have the time to read posts like this, and in all probability you have the time and ability to make choices that enhance your life even with the current concerns and restrictions that we face.
Please pause a moment and be grateful for that.
Late in 2020, anti-Covid vaccines were given the all-clear by the Food and Drug Association (FDA). Quite a miracle for that to happen with regard to the relatively short time it took to do so for a new strain of virus.
Another cause for gratitude.
Unfortunately, many people who signed up to receive the vaccine early in January 2021 felt great frustration when they were told that there were not enough doses at the time they expected to receive their shots. Certainly this was nothing to feel gleeful about, but it is worth considering:
1. Where does frustration get a person?
Answer: Nowhere good. It is not helping and it may be increasing blood pressure, creating stress that impacts other health conditions, and preventing tranquility.
2. Does it help or hurt a person to demand that things be different than the way they are, when the reality is that they are the way they are at that present time?
Answer: It hurts them, and certainly does not help.
With regard to the vaccine situation referred to above, by all means it is helpful to do what one can to help right the delay and accelerate the availability to one and all. But if a person has done what they can, which may include corresponding with officials who may have some pragmatic clout, then they’d best accept whatever they can’t, for that moment, change.
That is not recommending giving up or being complacent about continuing to take actions about situations that could benefit from changing. Persistence can be valuable and worthwhile. However, that does not preclude accepting the limitations and restrictions when they exist moment to moment.
The reality is, in this human life, we can’t always get what we want when we want it.
If we are willing to act and think in adult, mature, and wise ways we accept that.
Some people who are religious may pray and choose to “Let Go, Let God,“ and that brings them solace.
Some people who consider themselves spiritual may believe that the difficult circumstance will work out for the best, and hence may experience greater calm as a result of holding that belief.
Some people who hold secular views may think that the religious and spiritual attitudes written above are nothing but a Pollyanna clap-trap, but if these people are willing to reflect on times in their past that looked dire but which they survived, they consequently may feel some hopefulness in the here and now about the possibility of things working out.
The fact is, with the exception of losing one’s life, we can stand what we don’t like, we just don’t like it. Adopting that attitude is a choice, a choice well worth making. Otherwise we suffer from the malady of LFT (Low Frustration Tolerance) and can literally make ourselves sick. We create our own suffering.
Yes, the reality is that many people, having received the vaccine, will have protection and a greater chance of not succumbing to the virus’s drastic hold. Sure, the sooner, the better, for most. However if the vaccine is not available to all people at this very moment, as undesirable as that might be – it doesn’t mean it never will be available. While that’s nothing to like, individuals can nonetheless stand what they don’t like if they choose to make effort to do so.
The reality is that if we continue to act in mindful ways, using common sense, wearing masks, keeping safe social distances from others, restricting social encounters and washing hands thoroughly and regularly, it is likely we will not succumb to the virus and can stay well enough until the time comes when we can get the vaccines injected into our systems if we so choose.
Patience may not make perfect, but it can provide peace of mind.
If each one of us who reads this post does our best to practice and demonstrate high frustration tolerance and a patient attitude, no matter what the challenging circumstance might be, we can minimize alarm, and can adopt and model this healthy attitude for other people who may be making themselves anxious. Let’s do our best to apply this approach. After all, the alternative to doing so is making ourselves miserable and contributing to a pandemic of whining and frustration.
Let’s choose to live with tolerance, patience, dignity and tranquility.
It’s our choice. Let’s make it.