We all have likes and dislikes , beliefs and goals that are developed throughout our life due to many environmental factors such as friends, financial background, religion, schooling and more. When we meet people who have come through life in different ways and at first glance, seem to be completely different to us or make us feel that our lifestyle is threatened, it can make us feel uncomfortable or at worst, angry to the point of rage. In this blog post I explore the importance of developing tolerance of others in helping improve your mental health.
Intolerance of differences hurts only one person
When we are intolerant of others for whatever reason there is only one person that truly gets hurt and that is, ourselves.
For example, the far right of the UK who want to deport all immigrants and stop refugees fleeing war torn country’s such as Syria from gaining access to the country. These people regularly partake in marches, particularly targeting Muslims as their scapegoats of their disgruntled lives due to the barbaric acts of people who are not truly Muslim as it is a very peaceful religion.
It could be said that their intolerance of immigrants and people practicing their beliefs only creates discomfort in their own minds. They don’t have control to control the country’s borders, they just are angered by the situation and causing themselves intonation and wasting their time with negative emotions.
The same could be said for the far left, when they get upset about the growing inequality of wealth distribution and opportunity among society, then they also get upset and build up their frustration of the situation, it certainly does not bring any peace to your mind.
I am not saying we should just accept these things that oppose our learned belief systems that we feel make ‘our lives’ better but we should learn to develop our tolerance to people that are different to us as this will bring us peace of mind, acceptance that the world we experience is never perfect and an improved mental health.
‘tolerance is not just agreeing with one another or remaining indifferent in the face of injustice, but rather showing respect for the essential humanity in every person’ – William Ury
It is in my belief if you develop your tolerance levels towards others you will reduce the amount of negative emotions you will experience
Dalai Lama discusses tolerance
One of the greatest living minds in discussing tolerance is the Dalai Lama who is renowned for his expertise in developing a balanced mind.
For over 50 years, when China invaded Tibet, he has had a desire to work with the Chinese for betterment of Tibetans still living in mainland China with the Chinese people.
Even though he was forced to flee his country and palace when the Chinese threatened him and Tibetan Buddhist monks killed and several hundred self-immolation’s he still has compassion and tolerance for the Chinese government.
This is one of the greatest examples of tolerance and how we can all begin to practice tolerance.
We all have the power to learn to tolerate those we consider ‘our enemy’ or ‘different’ and so our peace of mind will never be affected negatively. Below the Dalai Lama discusses tolerance…
Learn to understand that even when people cause you anger or upset in life you have the ability to react in a non destructive way maintaining your peace of mind.
Although we are different look for the similarities
The founder of Battle of Mind is married to a Tibetan woman. We have very different cultural backgrounds but also many many similarities in many ways. When we look past the surface of culture, religion, money, race, nationality and race you will see we are not very different at all.
We all want happiness, love and comfort, those things are fundamental to each and every human being and as you look deeper and take time to get to know others, you will find you have similar hobbies such as sport, football, food, the desire to travel and so so much more!
Learn to look for the similarities in others not the differences.
Helps to shift our perspective from negative emotions to understanding
When we consciously choose to practice tolerance towards others we begin to shift our perspective from one of a world filled with negativity to a world filled with joy and things to learn and explore. Becoming tolerant is an important factor to being a happy peaceful person and can help you become in control of your emotions and the thoughts that you allow into your mind.
Being intolerant tends to be a problem with ourselves, not others
After I have met several people who are quite intolerant (including myself on occasions) I am in the belief that usually an intolerance is not a problem with the person or situation but rather, a problem with the person experiencing the situation.
For example, I knew of several people who had no sympathy for the plight of the Syrian people fleeing their homeland due to the war that has destroyed that part of the world.
This infuriated me as I hate to see suffering of people of any type. How can someone have no empathy for innocent people hurting so badly as long as their lives are ok? I don’t and can’t comprehend that way of thinking at all and that was my ‘intolerance’.
It used to really upset me when I would listen to people talk so selfishly and derogatory about asylum seekers but I learnt to accept it was just their belief, their learned culture and nothing I could say would change their way of thinking and instead, I would let them speak and I learnt to choose not to reply and let the words and the anger I felt during comments made go over my head and think of something else.
I realized that this anger that arose was due to a problem I had, a problem that I want the world to be more fair and just for everyone in it and for more people to have care and sympathy for those who are struggling and it just can’t be, the world doesn’t work like that unfortunately.
As mentioned earlier, we are all different people with different personalities due to our environmental conditioning and genetic makeup.
How to start becoming more tolerant
So now you have read this blog post you think maybe you are not as tolerant as you would like to be, so how do you become more tolerant?
Below are several tips that can help to become more tolerant and improve your mental health.
Respect: Being respectful to others should be among your key principles, as it can help you to get far in life. A great book that will help you to become aware of others viewpoints is ‘How to win friends and influence people’ (read it). If you want to receive respect, you should first be respectful to others. Respect is the key to open the door of tolerance.
Peacefulness: Intolerance causes conflicts and in many cases, it even triggered wars. Peace is a good breeding ground to nurture tolerance. A tolerant individual never starts a conflict unnecessarily, just let disagreements and different viewpoints go, be peaceful and don’t let anger rule you.
Courage: You need to have courage to become tolerant. It takes a good deal of courage to let things go that would usually cause you anger or intolerance. Learn to stay quite and not react to things that bother you and think of something else.
Learn : Becoming hungry to learn about other cultures and experiences. Read about religions different from your own. You can find books on the major world religions — and most bookstores are filled with all kinds of religion-related titles. But don’t just explore religion, explore their food, their countries, their way of life and hobbies. Life is a lesson and it is best enjoyed when we experience lots of new things as often as possible.
React : As mentioned already, learn not to react to comments that you know are the polar opposite of your own view. Take it in, feel the emotion but then let it go. If you really need to, go to a different space and cool off but DO NOT REACT. If you do this then you will become much more tolerant.
Understand : Try to understand why the other person has the point of view they have. What life experiences have they had to form that opinion? See things from the other persons point of view at all times rather than reacting from your own lived experiences and opinions you have formed about what is right or wrong.
In conclusion, developing your tolerance is likely to improve your mental health
By being tolerant it does not mean you are submissive. Tolerance is about accepting people will have different opinions, different beliefs, different ways of living that totally oppose your own viewpoints and learning to accept it without it affecting you negatively.
You can still have your opinions and you can still have any political and religious viewpoint and letting others also have theirs without confronting them will keep you and those you meet with peace of mind.
What things do you do to practice being more tolerant? What are your thoughts? Please comment below