Have you heard the story of the boiled frog?
If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out straight away.
If you put the same frog in water and slowly bring it to the boil, it doesn’t notice the increasing temperature and will boil to death.
I’m not sure how true that is. And really, I don’t know why anyone would want to boil frogs.
I was introduced to a concept by one of my clients (yes I’m always learning from them) called the Circle of Tolerance.
It won’t be long before you’ll see how this ties in with boiling frogs.
We have a circle in which the things we will tolerate reside.
When we make compromises and agree (even if reluctantly) to something that is outside our Circle of Tolerance, that becomes something that the other person will see that we now tolerate.
So effectively our Circle of Tolerance grows larger and larger, often filled with things we don’t really want to tolerate at all.
Because the other person sees that we will give ground and tolerate this new thing, they are reasonable in assuming that’s ok with us. For them it’s not a big stretch to think that asking just a little bit more next time is also not a big deal.
And this is how we wind up as boiled frogs.
We compromise a little (even if it doesn’t feel right). And then a little more. And a little more. And a little more.
Until we’re tolerating a whole heap of things we would never have dreamed of accepting.
Essentially, we’re in the hot pot, simmering away.
If you’d thrown us into a situation like this straight away, we probably would have bounced right out of there.
“That’s too many things I won’t tolerate” we would have thought and moved right along. But when it’s slow like that – small increases, it’s much harder to see how intolerable it really is.
If you’ve ever found yourself at the end of an abusive relationship, this is probably how you stayed so long.
If you’ve ever found yourself undervalued and overworked in a job, this is probably how you got there.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you’re feeling everything is really unfair, this is probably what happened.
Now I’m not saying don’t make compromises.
What I do suggest is that you don’t make compromises that are REALLY not ok for you.
You can even think about what is inside your Circle of Tolerance and what is outside it.
Then when you’re faced with a decision about what you will tolerate you won’t have to think on the spot.
And if you’re already feeling like a parboiled frog, pull back on some of the things you’ve indicated are ok and make your circle one you want to have.