You have patiently awaited your turn in line at the store. You are the next customer and the person before you changes their mind and decides to get a “credit card” for said store or become part of their rewards program. You then listen to the person tell the clerk their full name, their address, and then the clerk misspells it and they have to start over again. You hear yourself breathing loudly in irritation as you shift your body weight from one foot to the other. Does this scenario sound familiar?
We live in a modern world where speed and technology have very much spoiled us. These days, any small delay or inconvenience is perceived as distressing and in some cases it has the potential to become a real tragedy.
The ability to tolerate distress encompasses at the very least, 5 qualities:
- Ability to place your own interests below someone else’s
- Ability to contribute to something bigger than yourself by means of your attitude and your time
- Ability to control your mind
The ability to control your mind is indeed a laudable goal. The more you practice and attain control of your thoughts the easier your life becomes. Things bother you less or not at all as you choose to focus your energy and attention elsewhere.
How can you practice controlling your thoughts? When faced with a challenging situation:
- Always remember you have been through worse situations before and have successfully dealt with more difficult and annoying situations in the past ( Haven’t we all?)
- Distract yourself. Think about something pleasurable or actively send love and light to someone you care about
- Nothing lasts forever and this situation, too, shall pass
- Think about how good you will feel knowing that you didn’t lose your composure or your patience and you didn’t become a source of stress or distress for anybody else.
And that, there, is the most important thing: that no one suffered unnecessarily because of you!
Distress tolerance is a measure of our patience, our kindness, our grit and our ability to inconvenience ourselves for a greater cause. In short, it is an accurate, universal measure of personal and spiritual growth.