When you put your hand on a hot stove accidentally, you remove it immediately. The pain is so unbearable that you don’t need to make a decision to move your hand. Imagine if you lived your life the same way. Imagine what your life would look like if subpar results hurt just as bad as touching your hand to that stove?
You’d live out Tony Robbin’s classic quote:
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
On some level, you’re okay with the results you have right now. Your life is tolerable. You start to live a life you tolerate because the things you’re willing to tolerate accumulate slowly over time. You’re like that frog who sits in a pot that slowly heats up until it eventually boils. But since it happened so slowly you don’t feel the need to act quickly like the hot stove.
How do you change this?
Instead of feeling a dull yet tolerable level of pain and anxiety your whole life, you find a way to rip the band-aid and make the changes you need to make now. This is something you logically understand but find it difficult to emotionally embrace. So is pretty much every other self-improvement concept. Let’s tackle this from every angle and see if we can find something that sticks.
If you’re living an amazing life with no room for growth, no need to read further. If you’re someone who is just content with what they have, stop reading. I’m not here to add fuel to the fire of self-help that seeks to only criticize. I’m just talking to people who know deep down that this ain’t it.
Back to the question, if your life isn’t the way you want it to be, why do you tolerate it? You’re willing to tolerate certain realities you do so because on some level you think you deserve to live that way. I’ve had moments like that in my life like the time where I tolerated a bad relationship because I felt it was the best option I had and I was afraid to start over and be alone.
You feel like you deserve to live that way because of the way you see yourself. You see yourself a certain way because of your behavior, your experiences, and your interpretation of both. This leaves you in a catch 22 scenario. Which comes first if you want to change your situation? How do you change your identity to become someone who will no longer tolerate your current reality when you’re currently tolerating your reality because you’re unwilling to change?
In short, you fake it until you make it long enough to do the work it requires to make that identity change become real. You have to tap into that deeper understanding that you do deserve more deep down, but you just haven’t done what it takes to become that person yet. You know that person is the real one. The person you know you’re supposed to become.
You just keep it real with yourself. We live in this culture where you’re not supposed to feel bad about yourself for any reason whatsoever. This culture teaches you tolerance of everything when you definitely shouldn’t tolerate certain aspects of your life. There’s nothing wrong with looking at your situation and realizing you messed up — that the results you have right now are just objectively subpar. That maybe you should be upset with yourself for letting things get this bad. At this point, you’re on your way.
Seems simple enough, right? Get fed up with your situation and do what it takes to change. But it’s hard. And you’ll have to go through a period of your life where you face massive levels of uncertainty. And I won’t lie to you, sometimes that period of your life will be brutal.
Using my relationship as an example again. After finally cutting things off and striking out on my own, I was depressed. Couldn’t leave my bed for days. It took a month for me to really get outside into the open world again. I had done the right thing by removing myself from an intolerable situation, but the rewards weren’t immediate.
It didn’t take too long to get back on my feet and the uncertainty I was afraid of wasn’t all that bad. The same will be true for you most likely. things will suck for a little bit when you try to start a new path for your life, but you’ll get over it.
Where are the areas in your life that you don’t like, but you’re willing to accept because at least you know what to expect? Where are the areas in your life where the fear of uncertainty keeps you stuck? Those tend to be the ones you need to attack most because they’ll lull you into a sense of complacency for years, decades at a time.
The best remedy for this involves looking forward and thinking about what your life will end up like if you let comfort and familiarity build a cage around you. If you want to escape, it just takes the simple realization that you just need to go through a period of challenge and struggle in your life to get to the other side. That’s it. You just have to deal with your emotions swinging up and down for a while. And then you’ll have changed.
You tolerate a life you really don’t want to live because the story you tell yourself about life maps better with your insecurities. Think about it. How many times do you have doubtful thoughts vs confident ones? How many times are you beating yourself vs lifting yourself up?
If you constantly spend time focusing on the negative, of course, it makes sense that you should be willing to tolerate certain realities. It makes sense to have flawed areas of your life since you’re so flawed. In reality, though, you’re just telling yourself a story that’s blown way out of proportion and you know it.
You get over that story by repeatedly reminding yourself that it’s BS. When you remind yourself that it’s BS, and you believe it for just a tiny bit, it gives you a window of time where you actually do act like that person you’re supposed to be. The more you act like that person, the more your identity changes. As it changes, you’ll no longer tolerate certain things.
I have so many things from my past that I’d no longer tolerate at all now. I got there by slowly changing my story. I’d keep reminding myself that I didn’t have to live a certain way, that I was capable of much more, that I didn’t have to just lay down and watch the rest of my life go by.
Have that conversation with yourself. You’re better than this. You’re better than working some crappy corporate job you don’t really like so you can pay that $500 car payment. Screw that job and the car, go live your dream. You don’t have to settle for that person you know deep down isn’t the one. You don’t have to live in the shadows and be a wallflower on the world’s stage to fit in.
It’s okay to admit what you want from this life. Stop being afraid to ask for it. And don’t let people shame you out of asking for it because they’re afraid. Let them tolerate their existence. Consciously build your life exactly the way you want it and don’t stop until you fully make it happen.