At the root of intolerant behavior is a pattern of thinking that some people can fall into to the point they become unaware of it.
For many people, their intolerant behavior cannot change for good until they become aware of this pattern of thinking and feel the negative impact it has been creating for them personally to the point they choose to begin looking for other ways to look at and think about the world.
The basic pattern is that the person thinks:
“I can only feel important enough if they (the people or group of people they are being intolerant of) become more ___________, or less ___________.”
The blanks might get filled in differently for different people, but the pattern is the same for all intolerance.
In some people, this pattern can become broader and broader to include more and more of the world’s population to the point where a person can think:
“I can only feel important enough when the world becomes a more _________place or a less____________ place.”
Again, the blanks might get filled in differently for different people, but the pattern is the same for all intolerance.
The broader the pattern becomes for a person, and the more committed the person becomes to their intolerance, the more overwhelming and painful it can be for them because their ability to change a larger and larger amount of people’s behaviors can feel less and less possible, making their underlying desire to feel important enough seem less and less possible.
Below is a short 5 step, fill in the blank survey you can ask someone you feel might be suffering from this pattern to take that might help them recognize they have fallen into this pattern and might help them more easily find their way out.
Fill in each blank. For each new sentence, fill in the first blank with the same words you put into the blank at the end of the previous sentence. The word “they” refers to the person or people you wish would change.
“I wish they were acting/ being more _______________, or less ___________________.”
“If they were more _____________, then I would feel more _______________about/in this (situation).”
“If I felt more ________________ about/in this situation, and about/in situations like this, I could probably be more________________ more of the time.”
“If I could be more _____________, I might feel I could be a more________________ person in general.”
“If I felt I was a more ______________ person in general, the situations like this might feel less __________________ to me and I could just ________________ instead of thinking about it so much.