How To Make Progress By Being Intolerant

Sore feet
Image courtesy of Merlin

Imagine setting out for a long, delightful walk in the countryside.

After a few miles of happy wandering you notice that you have a stone in your shoe.

Would you:

A. Stop as soon as you could to take the stone out of your shoe?

B. Keep walking, ignoring or distracting yourself from the discomfort, eventually arriving at your destination with a shredded foot and a shoe full of blood?

I don’t know about you, but I’m voting for option A!

Imagine that you know EFT/tapping, or some other self-help process, that you have used successfully in the past. You set out into your daily life and during the day you notice you have a problem, perhaps:

  • Every time you think of your ex your blood boils.
  • When you get asked to speak in a meeting you feel much too anxious
  • You feel bad about about something you said all those years ago.
  • You can’t stop thinking about the argument you had with your teenager.
  • etc

Would you:

A. Set aside some time and work through the issue using tapping (or something else) until you were able to deal with the situation comfortably and resourcefully.

B. Tolerate the problem, getting used to it over time, until it seemed normal, allowing the stress to wreak subtle havoc on your system.

I’m voting for option A again. How about you?

I think this is an obvious choice, but many people who know EFT seem to choose option B.

Many people have a great time at an EFT training exclaiming about how wonderful it is, how much less stressed they feel at the end of the workshop than at the start.

They say they can’t wait to get started clearing up all the stuff that’s been bothering them for years.

Then they seem to get stuck in option B.

This is so common that I am even asked to run special workshops for people who know EFT, and benefit from it, but want some help to start using it on a regular basis.

If you are using EFT you need to be motivated to use what you know to make the changes you want to make.

There are lots of reasons for people not using tapping to help themselves: limiting beliefs, fear of change, lack of confidence, etc.

I suspect one of the difficulties people have in working consistently with their own stuff is that they are tolerant of the wrong things.

Are you too tolerant of your problems?

I think some people who don’t use EFT when they could are much too tolerant of their problems and much too intolerant of their feelings.

We have an innate tendency to get used to things, even if we don’t like what’s going on we can adapt until we can cope in the situation.

Some situations demand an adaption: a change of job, a bereavement, growing older and it’s good to have the capacity to adapt and endure.

However this ability has a downside, we can use it to adapt to difficulties that tapping could easily resolve.

After a while these resolvable feelings and reactions become part of the norm. We learn to tolerate them, by thinking: “It’s not too bad”, “I just get on with it”, “I’ll think about something else, watch TV, eat some ice cream”

We also find it difficult to be with uncomfortable feelings that are working below the surface of the problem.

If you want to change unhelpful patterns or reactions with tapping you need to be able to access the emotional charges that are part of the problem. For a little while you need to connect to what is going on beneath the surface of the problem to change it. That can be uncomfortable or even painful. You need to be able to be tolerant of the discomfort to be able to work with it.

Avoiding, suppressing or distracting yourself from your feelings is a common and understandable way of coping with the distress of daily life. Before effective methods for dissipating negative emotions were available these were probably the only options for most people.

If you are tolerant of the problem and intolerant of the feelings that you would feel if you worked on the problem then it’s not surprising that it is hard to summon up the motivation to start changing things.

How being intolerant might be good for you.

What if things were the other way round?

What if you were intolerant of your problems and tolerant of your feelings?

What if you started to think of your difficulties as stones in your shoe?

Imagine that after half an hour of ruminating about, and resenting, the argument with your spouse you realised you were doing it, then decided that enough was enough.

You might find a quiet place and take a few minutes to tap through the memory and its associated feelings. Having to connect with all those feelings might be unpleasant at first, but eventually you would get relief from the emotional turmoil and you would be in a much better state for the rest of your day and more resourceful for when it’s time to patch things up.

In this approach you need to become intolerant of the problem. Letting go of: “just getting on with it”, “gritting your teeth and carrying on”, disconnecting from your feelings and pretending it isn’t happening or doesn’t matter.

Treating your difficulty like a stone in your shoe can give you a much stronger motivation to change.

How to be more intolerant of your problems

Think about the everyday difficulties you are facing, the ones you tend to brush off or push to one side.

Ask yourself the following questions about each one:

  1. Is getting used to this good for me and the people around me?
  2. How many times do I have to have this problems for it to be enough?
  3. How is this little problem adding up over time? If I felt a year’s worth of this problem in one day would I be motivated to change it then? For more about the way problems build up over time visit the compound interest of suffering and freedom?

How to be more tolerant of your feelings

By being more tolerant of your feelings I mean being able to feel them and accept them as they really are, you may not like or enjoy them, but you can allow them to be present in awareness.

One of the best ways of being more tolerant of your feelings is to take up mindfulness meditation. There is a lot of evidence now that just simply being non-judgmentally aware of what is going on in our systems has lots of benefits: lower anxiety and depression, less stress, more clarity. You can find information and guidance on mindfulness meditation here.

Something I have personally found useful is paying attention to feelings as they are processed with the tapping. Noticing the sensations, qualities, intensity and movement of the feelings as they change helps you gain more confidence and awareness in your own processes and the power of tapping.


These suggestions are for modest difficulties that you could easily deal with yourself with a little tapping knowledge.

If the problem you are thinking of working on is big, intense or has a long/painful history get professional help.

I wish you every success in taking the stones out of your shoes

4 thoughts on “How To Make Progress By Being Intolerant”

  1. Andy
    Thanks this has resonated with me and makes sense. Time to remove that stone that’s been bothering me for a while.

  2. Andy, thanks for sharing your insights and experiences with the world. I’m happy to learn ways to use EFT even more effectively.


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