Day 5 – Bad is not always… well, bad

Today we’re going to address that other negative thinking pattern I mentioned Friday… the one that’s worthy of an entire day all to itself… Here it is:  

Although it may not feel like it sometimes, even the seemingly intolerable is actually tolerable.


Let’s dig into this a bit:

For the conflict-avoiders out there, the idea of having someone mad at you feels like the worst thing ever. At the slightest sign that tension may be brewing, you immediately imagine the worst case scenario in your mind. What if we never make up? What if he breaks up with me? What if my boss never respects me again or even worse, keeps me from being promoted? If a friend is mad at you, you might think “oh no, she’s going to tell people and everyone is going to be mad at me” etc. The idea of being in conflict with anyone just feels awful.

So you end up behaving in such a way, that you do everything in your power to avoid conflict. You become a “yes man” (or woman). You lose your sense of self trying not to offend anyone. You get taken advantage of at times because you always put your own needs aside to meet the needs of everyone else. You even become resentful because it seems like no one ever cares how you feel or what you want. While the idea of conflict feels terrible the truth is, the outcome of avoiding it, can be even worse.

To put the above in ABC terms, it looks like this:

A – You’re in a conversation with someone and begin to express your point-of-view. You see that the person you’re talking to doesn’t necessarily agree and temperatures begin to rise.

B – You think to yourself “Oh no, he seems really mad. I am probably wrong anyway. What am I doing”?

C – You start to get anxious because his face is getting red and he’s pacing back and forth. You decide to cave and tell him he’s probably right. You’re not really sure anyway. It’s not a big deal. “Phew, we’re back on good terms.”

What is comes down to essentially is a low pain tolerance, only the pain is emotional instead of physical. The idea of experiencing:

* Weirdness * Discomfort * Tension * Awkwardness * A fight * The cold shoulder * etc. feels unbearable.

So how do you overcome this:

1) Push yourself to do what makes you uncomfortable. Like I mentioned in the last post, there’s a lot of good that can come out of difficult situations, like conflict. Even though while it’s being experienced, it feel simply terrible. You feel alone and sometimes doubt that you did/said the right things. But, once you work through it, your relationships can grow stronger through that difficult experience. To always avoid, keeps things on a shallow level.

2) Think back on hard times that have passed and remind yourself how you survived. Did God show up in and comfort you in unique ways? Did a friend emerge who could totally relate to your experience? Were you able to utilize your own personal resources to find a way through the situation?

3) Be careful what you think. If you tell yourself that whatever you’re dealing with is absolutely unbearable, you’re going to continue believing it. If you tell yourself you can get through it, you can. It may not be easy still. You may struggle though it, but you will survive and you’ll be stronger for it.

Finally, on a personal note… I experienced one of the worst tragedies I could have ever imagined this year when I lost my mother-in-law to an unexpected heart attack. She was a rock for my husband’s family and gift to everyone she met. The thought of losing anyone I loved seemed unbearable to me, but especially someone I loved and respected as much as her. But then, the unbearable happened. Yet I am still here, fully functioning and believe it or not, still living each day with joy and purpose. My husband and I have talked about how weird it is to realize that life has continued on and we are still happy despite this loss. We never would have thought it was possible.

You can tolerate what you think is intolerable. But, what you think plays a big part in how you feel and how you act. So think like a survivor.

See you tomorrow!

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