How much more of this are you willing to put up with?
Many people I have spoken with recently have answered that question even though the question itself was never posed to them.
In several recent conversations people have made comments like “I’ve had enough of this,” “I can’t take this anymore,” “I want my life back.”
There is no disputing that we are living in different and uncertain times. Almost all of us are affected by these unexpected and unwanted world events that have crept into our lives, removed almost all semblance of certainty, and have left us feeling afraid and vulnerable.
And certainly, this has led to many lives being vastly different and many people feeling forced to live their lives in unwanted ways.
But those who say they just can’t take it anymore and lament about wanting their lives back, are allowing circumstances outside their control to dictate events well within their control.
One of the five truths at the core of everything I do in my day job is, “We get what we tolerate.”
The powerful lesson of this truth is that whatever we end up with is what we have put up with and we frequently lose sight of the fact that we have great choice over what we will put up with.
Whatever it is these folks can’t take anymore – they may be separated from friends and family while isolating, they may feel choiceless in where they can go and what they can do – the very richness of our imagination enables us to convert any and all of these types of circumstances into invigorating, uplifting and, above all else, self empowering journeys into self-discovery.
Being alone does not mean being lonely and being bored tells us we are focusing on what is while ignoring what could be.
We have no control over many of the debilitating impacts of a killer virus and a world-wide economic shutdown, but we have every control over how we allow these events to rule the quality of our lives.
I am not minimizing the enormous grief, stress and anxiety these times have brought upon many, I am simply suggesting, to quote psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Few people in history have endured greater hardship than Holocaust victims and those who survived are a tribute to human resiliency. It is not that they can tolerate more, it is that they chose to take an horrific circumstance over which they had no control and find meaning and something they could live with.
We will get through this and those who come out the strongest will be the folks who teach themselves how to make the intolerable tolerable and to focus, with laser precision on things within their control while paying little attention to anything else.
Yes, we get what we tolerate. We also get to choose the narrative – the story we tell ourselves – which ultimately will determine the quality of our lives.
We can tolerate in misery or we can embrace the opportunity every challenge provides.
Choose wisely what you will and will not tolerate.
Till we read again.