We can all learn ways to be more tolerant of others. The more tolerant we are of others, the less we fret and get stressed so it is useful for us as well as others to learn tolerance. Just how do we go about that?
I would not get very far as a counsellor if I was not a tolerant person. Friends often tell me they could never do my job as they do not have the patience. The thing is, it isn’t difficult to be tolerant. All it takes is an effort to understand the reasons behind someone’s behaviour. I may not necessarily agree with what they are doing or I may do something completely different in their circumstances but understanding their motives goes a long way to encouraging tolerance. Think about it, if you can understand how someone got to the place they’re at (ie. their reasoning), it becomes easier to deal with what they have done.
Being able to put yourself in ‘someone else’s shoes’ is a unique human trait. We are the only species who have evolved enough to be able to do this. If we use this skill to our advantage, we can reach out to others and share empathy rather than judgement.
When we find empathy for someone else, it means we are able to relate on an emotional level to what other people are experiencing without going through that exact experience ourselves. We can visualise and imagine how that person may have felt. The more empathy we have, the more tolerant we are.
Keep an open mind
Frequently, we hear stories about other people’s lives. Instead of accepting all you are told, remind yourself that there is always more than one way of interpreting a story. Try to keep what you are told in context and stay as open minded as you can until you have all the facts/information. Even when watching stories on the news and in the media – remember that you are often hearing facts that may have been twisted or interpreted incorrectly. Being a critical thinker is crucial in learning tolerance.
In my work I have dealt with all kinds of people – manic depressives, schizophrenics, murderers, rapists, padeophiles – you name it. Tolerance and empathy have been key to rehabilitating clients. The power of kindness and tolerance is far greater that bigotry.
Photo by paul.orear