Tolerance for Good 6/365


We talk a lot in my profession about widening the window of tolerance for discomfort. In the trauma work I do, I find that people are often so uneasy with uncomfortable emotions, that they run pretty fast to avoid them, whether it's using drugs and or alcohol to self-medicate, or endlessly doom-scrolling on social media, or creating drama in their relationships... The ability to sit with discomfort is a skill that has to be nurtured and developed. 

But there is another side to that, especially with people who have a lot of trauma. We also have to widen the window of tolerance for good things, for pleasure, for contentment. For not being in struggle. Most of the people I work with have a very hard time with the whole concept. It is a trauma response to think you have to pay for every good thing. That "payment" takes a lot of forms: hypervigilance, fawning, giving beyond what feels healthy, worrying, and catastrophic thinking.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, because it hits people in different ways. In my own life, it tends to show up in the way I end hugs first, moving away from casual touch before it feels too intimate or comforting. For some of my clients, it shows up in how they receive sexual touch or pleasure from a partner. It shows up in food restriction or not allowing themselves to do something they feel they haven't "earned." It's leaving a party before it's over out of fear of overstaying. It's doubting that a new friend is feeling the same connection.

How's your window of tolerance for joy? How does foreboding rob you of your joyful experience?

daily gratitude: warmth, connection, laughter


Unknown said…
So glad you’ve restarted your blog. I love reading your thoughtful insights. Thank you
psam ordener said…
One of the things my husband has taught me is that I am good enough and that I deserve good things he does for me. I never felt good enough, or deserving, before he joined my life. I'm not sure I can ever live up to his image of me!
Rosie C said…
Hi Barb,

This is a very important subject and I thank you for writing this so eloquently. Never really thought about it this way, I have thought about it many way but never quite this deep yet I felt it intimately.