We worship tolerance as an absolute virtue, but we can go through hell when we take it to excess.
“My wife tolerates our son’s behaviour way too much. He gets up when he wants, works when he wants and is always asking us for money.”
“I can’t accept the way my spouse treats me anymore.”
“I don’t know when my father will agree to let me have a little power. I’m 35 and have no input about company decisions.”
“They’ve been yelling at me for years, and I can’t take it anymore.”
A problem of tolerance or intolerance? How much do we have to take? Without a doubt, you have asked yourself that more than once. Practicing selective tolerance would be more of a goal than becoming more or less tolerant.
In fact, we worship tolerance as if it were an absolute virtue, but it can become a sin and take us to hell when practiced to excess and in inappropriate situations.
When Nancy complains that her spouse arrives 15 minutes late for supper, does not go to all the parent meetings or does not run the vacuum cleaner, frankly, she is suffering from a lack of tolerance.
When Carole tries to convince me that her spouse does not contribute because he does not put the children’s clothes in the correct drawers and does not always put his dishes in the dishwasher, I have an issue.
However, when Martine confides in me that her spouse calls her all kinds of names and has abused and hit her “but only a few times,” there is no longer anything healthy about being tolerant. It is high time Martine demand that it stop.
Furthermore, when Sylvain tells me his wife demands he do all the household chores, spends more than he can earn, goes out with her girlfriends three nights a week (“because she missed her youth”) and travels down south with a “friend” to rest, I answer: “Sylvain, that’s way too much. You’ve been suffering from “severe tolerance” for too long.”
In fact, when someone’s behaviour or words attacks another person’s dignity, integrity and fundamental values, it’s no time to be tolerant. Anger, violence and the abuse of power exist because people or a system accept and tolerate them.
Why do these people put up with it? Martine, for example, believes that she doesn’t deserve any better, that no one could love her. Her brothers and her father told her throughout her youth that no one would want her. Fear is Sylvain’s advisor: fear of being ruined, fear of being alone, fear of other people’s judgment and fear that his children will suffer too much if he leaves his spouse.
Poor self-esteem, insecurity and affective dependency are all factors that contribute to tolerating the intolerable.
So, are you living in virtue or sin?
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach