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Spiritual Bases of Tolerations

Updated: Apr 30

Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.


Helen Keller


Chair

I have been sitting on a broken chair for months. Shame ran through my whole being as I wrote those words. Yet, they are true. The chair, aside from being uncomfortable, lowers itself. Imagine participating in a meeting and suddenly feeling like you are shrinking—very Freudian.


Despite my MacGyver-like DIY skills, I have been unable to fix it. My reasoning for not buying a new one? "I am moving overseas and have already given away all my stuff. Do I really have to spend money on a chair I will leave behind in a few weeks?"


Why do I tolerate these conditions? Why don't I buy a new chair anyway and remove the filing cabinet from beneath the desk?


This article covers, albeit somewhat superficially, only two areas of study: psychological and spiritual bases for toleration.


A Definition of Tolerance


First, let's define tolerance. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines tolerance as "the ability or willingness to endure or sustain something challenging, unpleasant or undesirable without acting against it." Within this concept, tolerations refer to the conditions, situations, behaviors, or relationships we put up with over extended periods due to fear, resignation, or deeply ingrained habits and beliefs.


This writer will use toleration and tolerance interchangeably throughout the text.


Psychological Bases of Toleration


On the surface, tolerations may seem like minor inconveniences or annoyances that we get used to over time. However, at their core, tolerations stem from limiting beliefs and mindsets that we adopt from a young age based on our childhood experiences, societal conditions, and academic or professional training. We may hold subconscious beliefs that we do not deserve better or more. Our minds can also become habituated to a scarcity mindset rooted in fear (e.g., fear of the unknown, failure, rejection, or not having enough).


Potential Roots of Toleration


Childhood and Core Beliefs


We form beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world during childhood. We do not arrive at these beliefs through logic; instead, they are shaped by the emotional experiences, dynamics, and narratives we are exposed to in our earliest years. Children raised in environments of scarcity, criticism, neglect, or abuse are likely to internalize beliefs of being less-than, not good enough, and that those who are supposed to care for them (and the universe) cannot be trusted.


Coping Through Suppression


Many of us learn to suppress our desires, self-worth, and authentic selves to cope with painful childhood realities. We tolerate poor conditions and treatment as our baseline norm. This becomes an engrained pattern of tolerating things that do not serve us.


Attachment Trauma and Toleration


Attachment theory suggests childhood attachments to primary caregivers shape our abilities to develop secure senses of self and healthy interdependence later in life. Disrupted attachments and developmental trauma can foster deep-seated fears of intimacy, distrust, and toleration of toxic relationships and loneliness.


Intergenerational Passing


Very often, the tendencies toward and types of tolerations we develop are absorbed from the previous generation's belief system, behaviors, and coping mechanisms modeled for us growing up. We pass along what we know.


Spiritual Bases of Tolerations


While the psychological roots of our tolerations run deep, the spiritual implications of perpetuating them reach even deeper into our core. On a soul level, tolerations are profound blockages to our growth, authenticity, and inner peace.


When we tolerate situations, relationships, environments, or behaviors that are out of alignment with our highest values and most authentic natures, we create energetic disharmony within. This dissonance between how we live and who we are meant to be manifests as a perpetual undercurrent of dissatisfaction, emptiness, and disconnection—a gnawing feeling that something vital is missing from our lives.


Spiritually, tolerations keep us tethered to outmoded versions of ourselves that no longer serve our evolution. They prevent us from living congruently with our purpose and stepping into our greatest potential. In settling for the unacceptable, we sacrifice pieces of our souls.


We cannot be truly present, grateful, or abundant from a place of toleration. Our mind remains consumed with what we lack, judge, or resist about our circumstances. This veil of negativity obstructs us from inhabiting the grace of the present moment and receiving the spiritual nourishment available to us.


Potential Expressions of Spiritual Toleration


Career


Remaining in an unfulfilling career or job out of fear, obligation, or limiting beliefs about our worthiness. This toleration comes at the spiritual cost of suppressing our true calling, passion, and purpose for this incarnation. It disconnects us from living in alignment with our soul's highest path.


Relationship


Staying in a relationship or friendship that is toxic, draining, or detrimental to our emotional/mental well-being. Tolerating these connections stops our spirit from being genuinely seen and prevents the free expression of our authentic selves. It creates spiritual stagnation.


Lifestyle and Habits


Tolerating a lifestyle, habits, or bodily conditions that undermine our physical health and vitality (ahem, remember that chair?). When we ignore the temple of the body, we lose connection to our spiritual essence as vibrantly incarnate beings. Self-neglect and lack of self-reverence spiritually deplete us.


In each of these cases of toleration, we are compromising and constraining the full blossoming of our spiritual nature—our ability to live, love, create, and thrive in resonance with our souls' callings. Bringing awareness to these spiritual tolerations is the first step to liberating ourselves from their limiting effects.


Tolerance Stacking


While we may rationalize little tolerations like a messy car, dealing with frustrating technology issues, or, as we have discussed, sitting in a broken chair for months as mere inconveniences, they extract a psychological and spiritual tax. Each time we put up with these minor stressors and inefficiencies, we expend small amounts of energy, acceptance, and inner peace.


Tolerance stacking refers to the accumulation of small tolerations that, on their own, may not seem overly impactful. However, as they accumulate, they merge into collective life drains that zap our vitality and eventually do us in. Just think about the subtle yet persistent frustration of living with a drawer of tangled cords you have been meaning to organize, the knock to your self-respect each time you are late to an appointment, or the energetic toll of an ever-growing task list.


These tolerances add up to the theft of our present-moment awareness and joy. It is analogous to how small financial decisions and spending leaks compound into significant deficits over decades. The same is true for our time, energy, and peace of mind. Tolerance stacking creates significant life deficits.


Tolerance Audits


My workstation tolerance led me to look deeper and perform a "tolerance audit." I looked at every possible area of my life, searching for and eliminating the small clogged drains on my energy. This created a renewed space for my spirit to flow freely.


Those who know me best know my penchant for taking tiny steps toward hefty goals. My "normal" is never to underestimate the power of minor fixes, taking the time to declutter, tackling simple tasks, and moving the needle—decluttering, implementing systems, and developing new habits. Patching the tiny holes when I move a painting from one wall to another fills me with energy and lightness. Try it.


Be Radically Honest


The tolerance audit process begins with being radically honest with ourselves—no defensiveness, judgment, or justifications are allowed. Grab a journal or open a document and prepare to go deep within each core area of your life.


Career/Work

  • What aspects of your job/work are you tolerating?

  • An unfulfilling role, a toxic culture, mediocre pay, lack of growth?

  • Where are you compromising your values or settling?


Relationships

  • Zoom in on your key relationships. Have you encountered any painful dynamics, unhealed wounds, or boundary crossings?

  • Unsupportive friends?

  • Have you strained family ties?

  • A romance or partnership that's lost its spark?


Finances

  • From income to spending to debt, where are you tolerating financial realities that cause you stress, overwhelm, or regret?

  • Are you tolerating deprivation or life delays due to money fears?


Health

  • What habits, physical and mental conditions, or aspects of self-care have you been tolerating rather than addressing?

  • Are you putting your well-being last out of busyness or disregard?


Environment

  • Take a look at your living spaces, neighborhood, and transportation situations.

  • Where are you tolerating disorder, inefficiency, unpleasantness, or misalignment with your values?

Spirituality

  • Have you tolerated disconnection from your spiritual sources of grounding, inspiration, and inner peace?

  • Is there stagnation in your spiritual growth and practice?


Be brutally honest about where you feel stuck or just going through the motions for each area. Do not justify or minimize—that depletes your power. Observe with unflinching presence.


The goal is to shine a bright light on all the subtle and overt tolerations you've allowed to take root across the diverse dimensions of your life. Once you bring these to conscious awareness without judgment, you regain your power to make empowered choices to uproot them.


Self-Awareness and Rationalization Loops


It is all too easy to fall into mental loops of rationalization and excuse-making when it comes to our tolerations. Our minds can be remarkably adept at justifying or minimizing the impact of putting up with unfavorable conditions or compromising our desires.


We tell ourselves these stories about how the tolerations are not that serious or how we have already invested so much time and effort on a project that it is not worth changing course. These thought patterns act as defense mechanisms, allowing us to remain in our comfort zones rather than courageously facing what no longer serves us (if it ever did).


Developing a razor-sharp self-awareness is critical for catching ourselves in these rationalization loops before they keep us stuck. Strategies include:


  • Pause and notice when you find yourself making excuses or diminishing the importance of a toleration.

  • Examine whether you are viewing the situation through an objective lens or a fear-based, limiting belief.

  • Consider how you might describe this toleration to a trusted friend—it is often easier to see the truth when removed from our self-justifications.

  • Feel your body's constriction, fatigue, or depletion signals, which may indicate that you are tolerating something out of alignment.


With practice, your self-awareness will heighten around these mental escape routes. You can identify tolerations cleanly without dressing them up as acceptable or inevitable. Clear sight allows for precise action.


Actionable Steps to Eliminate Tolerations


While tolerations can indeed feel cemented after years or decades of putting up with them, the truth is that you always have the power to change course. The shift begins with adopting an empowered mindset that you deserve an ideal life, free of what's been weighing you down.


From there, start making incremental changes to uproot long-standing tolerations:


  • Declutter your physical spaces a little at a time to create more order.

  • Speak up for your needs and set boundaries more often in relationships.

  • Explore educational options or side income streams toward a career transition.

  • Upgrade self-care routines like sleep, nutrition, and exercise gradually.

  • Cultivate new beliefs through affirmations, such as "I am worthy of my dreams" and "My needs matter," among others.

No matter how small, each step is a refusal to remain complacent amid tolerations. As you take those steps, you reclaim your energy and vision. As you build this new momentum, tolerations rapidly lose power over you. The inertia may feel formidable at first. But stay disciplined and make consistent progress. In time, you will look back in awe of how much positive change you have created simply by addressing tolerations you once thought were permanent life sentences.


Fundamentally, transcending our tolerations is an act of radical self-love, self-respect, and realignment with our highest selves. Through this transcendence, we can only clear the obstructions and open the gateways to deeper realms of authenticity, inner peace, and accelerated spiritual growth.


And, in case you are wondering, of course, I got a new chair.


How about you, dear sojourner? What are you tolerating? And, more importantly, are you ready to stop doing it?


Stay safe, dear sojourner until we meet again on these pages or on a discovery call.



Neidy Lozada, MATP, ATTC, CSIC

Neidy Lozada, MATP, ATCC, CSIC, is an adaptive integrative and spiritual integration coach. She brings over twenty years of experience in transpersonal practices, coaching, and business to her work with individuals from all over the globe. She founded Soulful Sojourners following her long-held dream of building a company to provide top-notch coaching services to women, men, and organizations undergoing a profound transformational process. Neidy continues to serve non-profit organizations in the Bay Area through her work as a board member. She is a proud mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and devoted caretaker of furry companions.


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