Our Window of Tolerance

We all have a window of tolerance. It’s that space between our patient state and our “I’m going to lose it” state. For some, that transpires to irritability and anger – to others, an eruption of tears; it can also manifest into a shut-down, don’t approach me state.  Sometimes, our reaction can be a combination of any of the above.

In any case, when we push past our window of tolerance, we often act in ways that we regret. We have moved past our open minded, listening place, to one that is fully fueled by emotion. Here a few things to remember about our window of tolerance:

  • We all have one. Some people may have a short window of tolerance, others seem to have infinite patience; regardless, we can all get pushed to our limit.
  • Our window of tolerance gets shortened when we are stressed. You can’t carry a gorilla on your back and not feel its effects.
  • Same effect occurs when we are overtired. Remember your two year old’s tantrums when they would miss their nap?
  • It is trying to tell us something. When we feel our window of tolerance building to a crescendo, it is trying to tell us something. Perhaps it is time for a deep breath, for some self-care, for a slow down.
  • It can be worked on. Sometimes we miss the moment when we can control our window of tolerance and that’s okay (if it moves into abusive behaviour or language, however; that is not okay and needs to be stopped. Pronto.) For a response that might have been over the top, we move into repair and apologize. But it is also important to recognize that we can work on lengthening our window of tolerance by taking care of ourselves and our emotions, by recognizing that it is building and taking a time out, by making sure we are feeding our comfort system on a regular basis.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@adeolueletu

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