Tolerance or Acceptance? Which Leads to A More Open Heart?


We often talk about the word Tolerance, that we teach it. One of the definitions is “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.” 

Now if we look at the verb form, Tolerate, one of the definitions is, “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.” I know you can think of a ton of things that you tolerate, every day all day, right? When we tolerate something, sometimes we are doing that with gritted teeth as not to express our displeasure, and/or we can find ourselves tied up in knots, contributing to a plate that’s already overflowing with stress and anxiety.

To me, there always seems to be a breaking point with any of the forms of Tolerate, meaning we’ll take whatever “it” is for as long as we can. Smile through gritted teeth man, gritted teeth…


Now On The Other Hand…


The word Acceptance has a few different meanings as well but I’m going to go with Wikipedia on this one: “Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher who is alive today, defines acceptance as a “surrender to the Now” response to anything occurring in any moment of life. There, strength, peace and serenity are available when one stops struggling to resist or hang on tightly to what is in any given moment. What do I have right now? Now what am I experiencing? The point is, can one be sad when one is sad, afraid when afraid, silly when silly, happy when happy, judgmental when judgmental, overthinking when overthinking, serene when serene, etc. To simplify, acceptance means allowing, allowing unwanted private experiences (thoughts, feeling and urges) to come and go without struggling with them.”

I’ve kind of moved his quote around a bit…but I ask, Tolerance or Acceptance? Which has a more open heart? Which way sets up least resistance, stress and anxiety?

I do realize these words are for many, interchangeable and some would say ‘OK Bird, you’re splitting hairs here,’ but in the context that I understand and present the two words, there is a difference. Acceptance Allows our hearts to open more; with Tolerance, our hearts open just a bit if at all. I feel to some degree that Tolerance suggests a sort of disapproval and disagreement. In Acceptance, agreement isn’t necessary. In other words, it is what it is. Where a person is, is where they are and we Accept them as they are. To Tolerate them is like putting up with them and that can have some pushback eventually. 


And Then There’s The Mirror We Shine Upon Ourselves…


…when it comes to dealing with ourselves, which do you think is more Loving? Tolerance or Acceptance? Is Tolerating yourself a feel good thang or is Accepting Yourself as You are even mo bettah? You are the captain here, how You feel about Yourself is EV-VER-REE-THANG.

Sooooo many of our self-esteem issues are rooted in our inability of Accepting ourselves fully without judgement and with a deep Love and Gratitude for our very Existence. We Tolerate our noses, our faces, our bodies, and our habits until we can’t stand it anymore. And it’s all based on another’s opinion be it on social media, the media at large and/or the opinions of our families, friends, co-workers, bosses etc.

The best barometer is YOU–notice how you feel when you Tolerate something. Take note of how you feel when you Accept something. (And the comments I am making in this post are in regard to things that are not hurtful or harmful to Yourself or to another Being).

One of the hallmarks of lowering our stress and anxiety is to lower our pushback reflexes either verbally or mentally. Learning to Go With The Flow more. Judging is always a stress-inducing sport whether we’re aware of it or not as it makes our blood begin to boil depending on the heat, persistence and intensity of the judging.


Acceptance is The Gold Standard of Living Your Best Life


Acceptance is the less-stress way to me. Being in the moment of whatever that moment is. BE there, because when we are Present, we are giving our full attention to whatever it is that we are engaged in. With Acceptance there is no resistance to what is, no judgement either. It just is. Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean you Love whatever it is, but that you lay down the resisting of it in mind and action. Find more things you can be Accepting of if possible, you’d be surprised as to how much freer you’ll feel.

Tolerating Yourself. Does that sound very Loving? Accepting Yourself. Ahhhh, now THAT’S Open Heart Time!! Tolerating a particular habit of Your partner, yeah ok, but in any given moment You want to throttle them. Accepting a particular habit of Your partner? When You get to that place, the habit can’t get a rise out of You because You Accept that part of them without judgement. Which one gets You closer to Unconditional Love in those moments? You may not practice Unconditional Love on a regular but having more Accepting moments is Priceless and Peace-full.

Here’s a goodie for ya: “I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don’t want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.”― C. JoyBell C.

Tolerance or Acceptance? Which has a more open Heart?

Holla back, I welcome your comments and thoughts…




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Jacquie Bird, Spiritual Wellness

Your Wellness Guide


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