Tolerance: “the capacity to endure pain or hardship” ~Merriam Webster
Synonyms: endurance, fortitude, stamina
I once had a couples therapist use the word “tolerance” when speaking to me about my marriage.
God only knows why he felt the need to say this, but I immediately fell in love with this fabulous word.
My tolerance for even the smallest hardship in life was embarrassing. If things didn’t go perfectly or according to my set expectations, well let’s just say no one was having a good day then.
I took it personally if my car broke down or if someone cut me off on the highway.
There was something inside of me that needed to retaliate or it felt like I was being victimized.
I would use phrases such as “fuck my life” or “God must hate me.”
What a drama queen. It is NOT that dramatic.
And it’s definitely NOT personal. It’s just LIFE.
And I later found out that how you handle these minor inconveniences determine how you tolerate life altering pain.
You see it really PAYS to be aware of these inconveniences and how you can use them to your benefit.
For example: your car breaks down and you are unable to go to a friends party. It is in THIS moment you are given the chance to directly affect your life.
What are the thoughts in your head in this moment? Are they like the one’s I had above? Or are they neutral and proactive? When the tow truck comes an hour later, how do you treat the driver? Are you a bitch or are you kind?
The thought and subsequent action set the stage not only for this moment but for the rest of your life.
The skill developed during this seemingly small instance builds fortitude and strength of character. To remain calm, patient, and kind when your initial instinct is the exact opposite helps to create a lifetime of inward peace.
You see it is in times like these that you actually have the ability to claim YOUR POWER. You are not a victim to your primal initial reaction. Nope. You have actually CHOSEN how your day is going to be.
In Pema Chodron’s book The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, she talks about how Trungpa Rinpoche (Buddhist meditation master) insisted on inconvenience.
He arranged his furniture so that the table holding his glass of water was just out of reach. He designed his clothes to be too tight or scratchy. Why? “He contended that these inconveniences actually perk you up, keep you awake, present gaps in your cozy, seamless reality of centralizing into yourself.”
And when you’re going through fertility treatment, you have LOTS of opportunities to practice tolerance.
There is no need to insist on inconvenience because they’re already naturally baked into the process!
Overworked doctors, ambivalent nurses, and insensitive husbands are potential interactions ripe with frustration.
I’m not sure there’s any part of fertility treatment that is actually “tolerable.”
But tolerate we must to reach our goal! But dear one we are not tolerating for THEIR sake. Oh no. We are tolerating for OUR sake. For our peace of mind and calm.
So let’s tolerate with dignity the prodding and poking. Let’s tolerate the daily doctor visits with as much patience as we can muster. Let’s tolerate the husband who only wants to talk about his annoying boss while you’re giving yourself painful shots.
And then, let’s let go of everything else. Let’s let go of unnecessary obligation. Or of a perfectly clean house. Or 6 pack abs.
But let me clarify that “tolerate” in this context does not mean tolerating bad behavior. Or disrespectful treatment.
Because that happens in excess during fertility treatment as well.
I’m saying try to tolerate the annoying (overworked but well meaning nurse) but certainly don’t tolerate bad customer service (failed cycle due to medical negligence, overcharging etc).
So the next time your day goes to shit, remember to:
Recognize: This is your opportunity to DIRECTLY AFFECT the rest of your life (ie karma). Yay!
Stop: Set an intention to be calm and tolerant.
Pay attention: Are you able to actually enjoy the day even though it wasn’t PERFECT? Did it make you closer to your traveling companion? Do you now have a hilarious story to tell? Are you proud and peaceful about how you handled it, not drained and guilty?
Protect yourself: If all else fails, think of YOURSELF! Protect your energy and mood. Being angry and bitchy drains your energy and makes you depressed. You feel shame and have to work that much harder to get yourself back on track.
Enjoy: This is all life. And it’s perfectly imperfect. ♥