After going to see HH Dalai Lama on International Peace Day, I was reminded of how important it is for us all to show patience and tolerance to one another.

I’ve really struggled with this in the past, and have to admit that whilst I’m getting closer to being a much more patient and tolerant me — I still have a way to go.

I became aware of this apparent weakness in my character after being asked one of those ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ type questions at an interview several years ago.

I hadn’t given the topic any thought beforehand, and realised that it would probably sound arrogant to say I didn’t have any weaknesses — so I found myself mumbling something about me being ‘a bit impatient and intolerant.’

Being more surprised than anyone else at where that little gem had emerged from, I gave it more thought and realised that it was true. My subconscious mind had answered the question before I could come up with a conscious response.

Why was I impatient and intolerant?

Why did I want what I wanted ‘now’, and why did I feel so frustrated, annoyed and angry with people who were (in my eyes, at that time) somehow ‘less’ than me? (That phrase reminded me of my father’s superior attitude and bigoted judgements — and so didn’t sit comfortably with me at all).

Therein lay the link…. my parents and my childhood. No real surprises there then!

I think impatience comes from the inner child inside us who doesn’t want to ‘delay gratification’ — they want the treat now, and to avoid the discomfort of waiting and hoping for it to come later. Reward.

It’s about wanting the certain rather than the uncertain… the real rather than the imagined and longed for… the definite instead of the possible. Friend or foe. Life or death. Survival.

As for the intolerance — that feels like it also comes from my inner child too, but the part that has been tainted and shaped by my parents’ daily influence upon me.

What we see modelled to us by the ‘big people’ in our lives when we are highly impressionable children, forms our own un-examined beliefs, perceptions and automatic reactions.

On deeper self-exploration I realised that I had some nasty ingrained bigoted thoughts in the murky depths of my sub-conscious mind.

These had been passed down to me by both my parents and neighbours, who feared the consequences of the mass immigration — of people they considered to be ‘inferior’ to them — which they were witnessing in the 1970s. They saw this as a big threat to their livelihood, families and society.

I realise now how much impatience and intolerance deprive us of learning, compassion, empathy and personal growth.

When we can unearth the poisonous seed that was planted we can chose to keep feeding it and allowing it to grow — or we can dig it up and cast it on the fire!

That leaves us with a decision and choice as to how to fill that space once occupied with impatience or intolerance.

Acceptance fills that place beautifully.

  • Acceptance of the natural laws and the time it takes for things to materialise
  • Acceptance of what is — without having the urge to change it into what we need or want it to be
  • Acceptance of someone else’s preference and perspective — without the need to persuade or ‘educate’ them differently
  • Acceptance of the mosaic of different characters, personality traits and motives around us — without wanting to direct and dictate the shape and form of the bigger picture

Time always passes, and how we feel during that time is of our own making. We can choose to be lovingly patient and respectfully tolerant. We can choose appropriate acceptance of that which doesn’t harm or violate us.

With intentional patience, tolerance and acceptance our lives will be all the more enriched.

We are all a work in progress and it’s important to remember to show ourselves that beauty of patience, tolerance and acceptance too!

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) – MIND HEALER & MENTOR

Originally published at