When people talk of tolerance, I immediately cringe. I don’t find the word very attractive because let’s be real here. The word itself has an ugly ring to it. To put it bluntly, it sounds downright gross!
Sadly, many targets of bullying are so afraid of being alone that they settle for friends who aren’t friends at all. And the people the target associates with may keep the target under the impression that he’s being accepted when, in fact, they may only be tolerating him. And you can tolerate someone without accepting them.
I know a few who assume that acceptance and tolerance mean the same but they don’t. The difference between the two is huge.
For example, you’re in polite company and the man sitting next to you, (who happened to scarf three huge bean burritos for supper last night, then put away three eggs for breakfast this morning) covertly eases forth a silent but deadly fart. You catch the first nauseating whiff but can’t hold your nose nor leave the room without seeming rude to everyone else in the room. Instead, you only sit there, trying to keep a poker face, and nonchalantly hold your breath until you’re sure the smell has dissipated. That’s what tolerance is.
Tolerance means that people allow the target to be around but secretly wish he’d go the hell away. And it has a way of seeping through in how they think of the person, how they act around him and how they behave toward him.
So, how is the target to know if he’s being tolerated?
Here are the signs:
1. The target will be excluded from any events or social gatherings.
If you’re the target, you’ll often hear the rest of the group talking about the barbeque or sleepover they had over the weekend. You know, the one that none of them thought to invite you to? Show these morons you have a modicum of self-respect and walk away. You don’t need them.
2. The target will feel left out because the other members of the group will be communicating with all other members except the target.
You’d much rather be alone than to be lonely. Alone is when you’re physically by yourself. Lonely is when you’re among people, yet you’re still alone because to them, you don’t exist. You can be alone but not be lonely. Realize that if you ever feel lonely and you’re in a group, that’s the time to tell them to go kick rocks and be on your way.
3. The target will feel as if he’s tagging behind the group.
Again, if they seem to always leave you behind, eighty-six them and bid them goodbye.
4. Other members of the group will voice their hatred of the target anytime he isn’t around to hear it. The target will then hear about it later. If they stab you in the back, it’s time to ditch them. You’d much rather be by yourself and keep your dignity rather than stay among those who strip you of it.
5. There’s always that sickening “elephant in the room” feeling.
Feeling awkward around these people is a sure sign that they don’t deserve your friendship. Understand that this is only your gut trying to warn you about these people. Listen to it!
If people tolerate a person, they only permit having them around when there’s no other choice. And they’ll take every chance of voicing their seething hatred of the person when he isn’t around to defend themselves. They allow the person to be around because there’s no way they can make them go away or say anything without looking like a heel. When the tolerated person is present, you just grin and bear it.
Here’s why the target should drop these people:
1. By continuing to be around people who tolerate him, the target decreases his value as a person. That’s right. Anytime you must crawl behind people who don’t give a crap about you, you make yourself look like you have no other options. People who see this lose all respect for you and think you’re weak. Therefore, your value will drop like a meteor!
2. You’ll risk being used and abused. Any time you’re desperate to have friends, you’ll settle for any crumb of human connection that you’ll be willing to put up with shabby treatment just to keep from being alone. Users and abusers will take notice of this and hang around only to get something from you. And those who are decent people and would otherwise be good friends will want nothing to do with you because desperation is so off-putting and will only repel them.
3. You’ll only embarrass yourself and further erode your self-esteem. If you don’t have respect for yourself, no one else will either. No one respects anyone who’s pathetic. You need to muster up some pride and stay away from people who make you feel bad about yourself! Begin rejecting them and have nothing more to do with them. Then watch your value rise again and see how much better you feel about yourself afterward.
Tolerance just plain sucks! For both parties! It sucks for the others because they don’t want to be around the target but don’t know how to get rid of them. It sucks for the tolerated person because they’re in a place they’re not welcome and in a situation in which they’re mistreated and even abused. It sucks for everyone involved because the overall mood is bad.
Anytime a person in a group of people is only tolerated, everyone feels it.
Tolerance includes resentment. It’s gritting your teeth, sitting there with contempt on your face and drumming your fingers until the person finally leaves. Tolerance makes the tolerated person feel crappy because it’s begrudging and there’s suffering on the part of the tolerator. We tolerate people we find disgusting and abhorrent.
Acceptance is a much better term. With acceptance, people are at least willing to see the value the disliked person brings to the table although he’s a person they wouldn’t have chosen. It’s receiving the person and allowing them a degree of freedom and respect despite differences.
Acceptance is sitting quietly and letting the person just be. It’s embracing their good qualities regardless of your dislike of him.
With that said, understand that you don’t deserve to be around the people who only tolerate you. Better yet, they don’t deserve the privilege of even being in your presence. It’s much better, not to mention healthier, to be by yourself until you meet people who will not only accept you but celebrate you.
I can’t stress this enough! You deserve to be among those who love you and who care deeply about you. Never, ever settle for people who only tolerate you just to keep from being alone.
Sometimes life tests us and we must be alone for a while before it finally rewards us with people who are meant to be in our lives. In the meantime, use this time of solitude for a deep self-evaluation and for getting to know yourself again. You just may discover strengths and qualities you never knew you had!