What is Our Window of Tolerance

We all have a window of tolerance. It is that place where we have full access to our Wise Mind, where both our emotions and our logic inform us to make decisions. This is the state in which we are mentally engaged and in a growth mindset. It is here that we function optimally.

When we move out of our window of tolerance, we move into either a hyperarousal state where we can overreact emotionally, or into a hypoarousal state of shutting down. In either case, our emotions are what begin to dictate our behaviours. In a heightened state, we begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious and can have emotional outbursts, triggering our fight-or-flight response. In a dulled state, we begin to feel numb, unmotivated, separate from our feelings; triggering our freeze response.

Our window of tolerance lies in our comfort system; it is the place to which we can self-soothe, think clearly, act accordingly. We can strengthen our window of tolerance by first recognizing our triggers that will lead us away from it – anxiety, feeling frazzled, exhaustion, worry, being emotionally or physically drained. We can use grounding techniques such as deep breathing or a guided meditation to strengthen our familiarity with what our comfort system feels like. We can create an inner dialogue that is supportive and non-critical. We can remind ourselves that taking a break to re-group is okay. We can prioritize self-care.

By expanding our window of tolerance, we move towards feeling more comfortable with our emotions,; we are better able to handle the ups and downs that daily life presents us.

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