Writing Group Topic: Tolerance based in humility

While I was reading, I was making up my mind how I would feel about it, whether I would beat myself up about my inadequacy or whether I would look at it from a positive angle. So much of what I take in, I default to a reaction, and it’s encouraging when I find myself choosing my response and attitude actively.

So, tolerance. I come from a background of opposites: my father and especially his mother, my grandmother, are extremely intolerant of anyone that isn’t like themselves. My mother was the opposite – nothing phased her, she was never bothered with anything or anyone, a lethargic personality. Since I aligned myself with her much more than the others, I think I took on a certain kind of unquestioning acceptance of others. People just are what they are, who they are, and I normally just accept them as such (and some I want to be around, others not). At age 15, when I moved in with my cousins, my youngest cousin (3 years younger than I) made me her “best friend” and opened my eyes in a way I hadn’t known. She judged everyone from the first look. She would whisper her judgement to me when we met new people, pointing out things I had simply not noticed. I wish that hadn’t happened, because that way of looking at people did to some degree absorb into me – not as extreme as with her, but I wish I could get the obliviousness back that I used to have. Because tolerance then never really seemed to be an issue, there was just acceptance.

Perhaps it’s just part of growing up, and my cousin isn’t to blame. Who knows. I am where I am: there are some people – or rather behaviours – that I am intolerant of, that I do not “lovingly accept”… and to some degree that does have to do with my pride, or lack of humility, because it’s exactly those things I’m strong in (and proud of) where I despise others who aren’t strong in these things. For example, taking action. I am an action person: there’s a problem, let’s find the solution and then use it. Others aren’t like that. I must admit that people with my mother’s personality (lethargic, letting-things-happen-to-them, victims) are really difficult for me to “lovingly accept” – I may grudgingly put up with them for a while, but generally I’ll try to avoid them. Or those who like to wallow in their misery when there is a solution. But then again, if I were to “lovingly accept” them, would I be enabling the behaviour? Or is it prideful again to think that any reaction of mine would influence them at all?

Ah, but I’m well into pop-psychology talk here and I don’t care for that. I recognise my need for humility, and reading through my share I even see where some of it comes from a place of pride. How do I get this tolerant humility without kissing my brains goodbye? I do struggle with pop-psychology definitions of humility (“lovingly accept”) – at church I have been taught that humility is to be realistic about oneself: not undervaluing, and not overvaluing oneself. It’s pride to think “I am a nothing” as much as it is “I am awesome”. I like that definition, so I pray for the gift of perspective and a sober judgement of myself – a realistic view.

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