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The Difference between Acceptance and Tolerance

Updated on October 3, 2011

Many people from a dysfunctional background often lack the understanding of the difference between acceptance and tolerance. When we grow up not being allowed to speak our opinion, or state our feelings, or express our thoughts without the fear of ridicule or punishment, we come to believe we have only one choice – to tolerate what “is”. We believe that there is nothing we can do to change anything, even if it goes against everything we wish. Sometimes, the lack of feeling a sense of worth or importance causes extreme stress on our whole being. Emotional, physical, and mental issues result from despair and despondency. A feeling of invisibility pervades the soul.

Acceptance on the other hand is an understanding of the deeper meaning of events. All happenings are meant to be just as they are, for the soul’s purpose towards personal evolution. Every event is seen through the eyes of each person individually. The same event may have the extreme opposite effect on two different people. That is why life is considered to be subjective. Life is based on our perception of the events revolving around us. The results of those events are based on how we view them. We can choose to “react” to our circumstances and get all wrapped up in our mind, the part of us that most often misconstrues the meaning behind the events swirling around us. Our mind often misunderstands the purpose of life.

We can choose to “create” a different result just by the very act of “flipping” our perspective towards it. When we choose to perceive things differently, we begin to see the transformation of the events in our life. We want to remember that “what we resist, persists” so tolerating something will only keep that same negative result we have always experienced in our past. Perspective comes from the spirit part of us, the part of us that is literally “out of our mind” because it comes from a bigger, more aware place. The higher, more conscious part of us is far greater and farther-reaching than the tiny space that our body and mind inhabits.

Tolerance is walking through life in resignation, with our heads down. Acceptance is walking through life, with our heads up. We are resolute in dealing with any situation with determination and an indomitable spirit. If we would only remember that we are empowered and stronger than we ever thought possible, it would make the world a lot easier to accept when things outside of us are beyond our human comprehension.


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    • Lene Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Lene' Lynn St. John 

      6 years ago from Glendale, AZ

      ytsenoh, wow, it's tricky to write "honesty" backwards, since I am a bit dyslexic to begin with - but it was fun! :) Thank you for your compliment. I appreciate you stopping by to read and leave your perspective! Blessings to you! :)

    • ytsenoh profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Well written and nicely stated of the distinctions between tolerance and acceptance. I particularly liked reading "Tolerance is walking through life in resignation, with our heads down. Acceptance is walking through life, with our heads up." Thanks for writing this piece.

    • profile image

      Lene Lynn 

      7 years ago

      soneblom, AMEN, sister! :) Thank you - I totally agree! :) Have a great week!

    • soneblom profile image


      7 years ago from South Africa

      Well done lene lynn! Vote UP! Yes, we grew up with alot of abuse becuase our parents knew no better hey. Many adults today are so confused about how to treat and love others that abuse is recycled (for lack of a better word) but we can make the change by doing it differently. Learning to love ourselves and those around us in a manner that will build the nations and the world into a better tomorrow one person at a time.

    • Susan S Spencer profile image

      Susan S Spencer 

      7 years ago from UK

      Very well written, and a great hub. Thanks! I'm following.

    • profile image

      Lene Lynn 

      7 years ago

      Tami! Is that YOU, Tami? :) Thank you SO much! I am so glad you read it! :) You are awesome, you know that? :) Love ya!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Lene, this is so well written and clear. I am proud to call you my friend.

    • profile image

      Lene Lynn 

      7 years ago

      embee, thank you so much! I am so glad you appreciate this article. It is something I have had to learn over the years and it doesn't happen overnight, that's for sure. You are very kind and I wish you the best in all you experience. Blessings and peace to you! :)

    • embee77 profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a beautiful and well thought out piece. Your ideas about the way we view things are the key, I think. We need to remember that we have those choices to make, and they make or break us. Truly growing as individuals requires us to accept ourselves, then others. It's a long road but infinitely life-giving and liberating. Thank you for this.


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