Understanding Your “Window of Tolerance” & Why Healing Can Go Wrong

What is the window of tolerance in healing and why you should be careful not to unknowingly harm yourself in your spiritual awakening.

The deeper my training extends with the Institute of Coaching Mastery, the further I realize that psychology is actually a beautiful conduit of growth that works in great harmony with our spiritual journey. The two have so much overlap! Recently, I learned about the technical term, window of tolerance as a part of our education, and want to bring it to your awareness now.

Note that this post is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for any medical or professional advice.

What is the window of tolerance?

Every person has a window of tolerance where they can deal with their emotions with some level-headedness. This window is also called the state of calm arousal, meaning you experience an emotional charge by something but not beyond your capacity to work through it.

However, if we become overstimulated and our nervous system goes out of whack, we exit our window of tolerance and experience hyper-arousal. This could look like:

  • Fight or flight mode activates;
  • Feeling anxious or panicking;
  • Becoming overwhelmed;
  • Experiencing an overload of emotions or energy that you can’t release;
depressed woman having headache and stress, anxious, outside window of tolerance, hyperarousal

On the opposite end of the spectrum, your nervous system might shut down and put you into a freeze state. This would look like:

  • Fazing out or becoming numb;
  • The mind going blank (not in a good way);
  • Experiencing an eerie sense of calm that makes you feel indifferent;
  • Distracting yourself or living in your imagination for long periods;

Either ends of the window of tolerance are our nervous system’s way of telling us that we’re getting heavily uncomfortable. That it’s time to back way down, and out of the situation.

Why You Should Know About Your Window of Tolerance In Your Spiritual Journey

In the initial stages of a spiritual awakening, most people experience intense emotions, and fluctuate way outside their comfort zone. You can have phases where you are hyperactive and ‘super spiritual’, and then you experience burnout and want to just sleep for 12 hours straight!

And so many times, people mistake disassociation with detachment in their spiritual journey. Truth is, our disconnect from the world isn’t a spiritual achievement, but a coping mechanism that we’ve designed for self-preservation.

It’s important to understand that our nervous system takes time to regulate itself. So as much as we want to heal rapidly, we have to cut our bodies some slack. It’s important to not push yourself to the point of exhaustion, in the name of healing.

There have been times where people have pushed way beyond their capacity and re-triggered trauma they were not ready to heal yet. This is especially true in the case of past life regression, where if done without proper care can leave you hanging in limbo with the memories you recall.

Of course, none of this is to scare you. But to tell you about your own limitations so that you can be informed and have the right methods available to overcome any hiccups.

As you keep healing, your window of tolerance will naturally expand and you will be able to hold space for more of this healing. But as you get there, go easier on yourself.

Like we’re so profoundly taught in our training, treat your healing journey like a kettle through which you release some steam. Every time you open the pandora box for healing, don’t try to empty it one go! Work through it in bits and pieces.

let out some steam, healing is a gradual process

What To Do When You Cross Your Window Of Tolerance

Our body is self-correcting, which means that even if we do nothing to actively calm it down, we will gradually come back into a calmer state. However, why self-inflict harm by pushing yourself beyond the level of tolerance, when you can be better informed and not drive yourself to that point of overwhelm or underwhelm?

This should be a mandate for every spiritual practitioner. It’s important to keep grounding your energy and slowing things down. Otherwise, it is very easy to get sucked into a whirlpool of emotions and spiral down until the point of a meltdown. Especially if you’ve had a lot of trauma in the past.

If you’re in hyperarousal state, pick activities that help you release the built up energy. These are typically things that require movement of your physical body, like dancing or going for a run.

And if you find yourself zoned out, try to interact more with the physical world through your five senses. This will help you re-stimulate your state of ‘freeze’.

Some of the simplest grounding techniques that can help you move back into your window of tolerance include:
  • Drink tons of water and hydrate your system;
  • Eat something healthy and calm your root chakra by letting your body know you’re safe;
  • Listen to calming music;
  • Using aromatherapy to help your sense of smell calm your nerves;
  • Look around your room and identify things you can see and touch;
  • Wrapping your arms around yourself or getting under a weighted blanket to self-soothe;
  • Go for a walk in nature and away from any noises. You can try this free guided walking meditation to help you tune back into the present;
  • Another advanced tool is to think about a different, happier memory.
aromatherapy to help you with your window of tolerance
In general, if you find yourself getting worked up more often than not, suspend your attempts to heal whatever it is that you’re working on. Sometimes, we do ourselves more harm when we scratch at old wounds, versus letting them sit and heal.

The best thing you can do for your healing, is to be very self-compassionate and treat yourself like a little child that’s just learning how to walk. You can’t beat yourself up for not getting through this – you can only hold your inner child close and encourage them to do better tomorrow.

Concluding Thoughts

I find it deeply fascinating to look at our minds and behaviours through different studies. At the end of the day, whatever we learn about ourselves helps us grow into being more of ourselves and less of what we’re not.

I would like to repeat that I’m not psychologist, but just a curious student of the human mind. So consider this article as an invitation to learn more about how well you cope with reality, and what to do when your body says “stop”. I hope this simplifies a much heavier concept for you!

Happy healing, dear one. 🙂

Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to setup a complimentary 30-minutes call using this form, and learn how you can set your spiritual plans into action. See you soon!

Gratitude : 8 Powerful Tips to Be More Thankful Everyday

Here are 8 simple techniques to live a life of more gratitude and joy. Practical ways to live a more thankful life on a daily basis.

I was first introduced to the idea of grateful living around 2014. I started following a YouTuber’s vlogs, in which she’d share about her journaling practices. Gratitude writing was one of them, and I started practicing it too.

It felt nice redirecting the mind to think of at least five unique things from my day that I was thankful for.

As I started doing this, I had to look for more and more unique ways to count my blessings. As a consequence, years into self-development, gratitude writing became a fundamental way of becoming a more optimistic person.

Even today, when I look back at those notebooks, I smile from ear to ear. Those were small but valuable moments which I would have forgotten about, had I not written about them. So not only did the practice help me in those moments, it left me something invaluable to look back at and be even more grateful for!

But why bother? And what is the point of gratitude? I hear you.

Ever since the 2000’s, the ‘gratitude’ philosophy has exploded. But what is grateful living? Is it even necessary? And how do you get your mind to appreciate the world, when sometimes it can feel like nothing is even going right?!

Gratitude is about having a positive psychology in a world where we’re constantly hustling. It’s about rewiring the mind to acknowledge ourselves, and those around us. It’s about taking out the time to see the good in things, even if at first that seems impossible.

As the saying goes, it’s all in your head. And philosophies, both ancient and modern confirm this.

The more you try it, the better you’ll become at it.

And when you feel better about your reality, you’ll love living more too. When you love living more, you give more to yourself, to others around you, and to your life. As a consequence, things become even better! It’s all an upward spiral of positivity, really.

But how do you put gratitude into practice? Let’s talk about it now.

How Can You Be More Grateful?

I want to share some practical and genuine tips with you, to talk you into living with more gratitude in everyday life. I hope they spark your creative side too!

Tip #1 – Start your day on a positive note.

When you set your feet on the ground, acknowledge the basics. And as you carry out your morning routine, keep counting everything as a blessing that’s been making your life better. Here are some examples to get you started.

I have a comfortable bed to sleep on (and an air conditioner/heater),
I sleep with food in my belly,
and I wake up to the opportunity to live another day

morning ritual, gratitude ideas

Tip#2 – Check-in with yourself during the day, especially in the moments you’re feeling crappy.

What are somethings that have been going RIGHT today?

Ask yourself that question and let your energy swing from anger or helplessness back to hope and happiness. The answer doesn’t have to be significant.

It could be something as simple as getting a cold glass of water on a hot summer day when you desperately needed it. Or receiving a compliment from somebody, which made you smile!

self care, self love, gratitude

If you haven’t already, try checking-in with yourself during a bath meditation.

Tip #3 – Identify the people and things that make your life easier, instead of harder.

We take a lot of things for granted, especially people. Start recognizing everything comfortable about your life, even in the situations that make you unhappy. Here are a few prompts to get you thinking.

Who made your day better today?
Does somebody drop you off at school/work everyday, to whom you forget to say thanks when you get out of the car? Or to wish ‘good morning’?
Do you have a steady internet connection that lets you talk to that long-distance partner or friend you’re pissed off at?

happy, grateful, people, relationship, love,

Tip #4 – Don’t be shy to tell people they make you happy!

Feeling gratitude in your heart is just the first step. If you want to experience the true ripple effect of thankfulness, you have to put it into deeper practice.

Find ways to appreciate and compliment people, genuinely.

Not only will this break barriers in the most unstable of relationships, it will help you see people for their goodness, not just everything that’s wrong with them.

photo of women hugging each other

Tip #5 – Write about it.

At the end of your day, take out 5 minutes and write yourself an email about the 5 highlights of your day.

email yourself a gratitude note every night

If you enjoy journalling or want to make this more intimate, this could actually make a great journal idea too. I’ve put together tons of prompts in my newsletter, which you can get access to as soon as you sign-up. It’s free!

Tip #6 – Return the favor.

Give other people the opportunity to feel your gratitude towards them, for what they did for you. But in your own style.

thank you signage, gratitude writing

Sometimes, a small, handwritten note can go a long way, or buying someone a coffee. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just heartfelt.

Lately, as a part of my art therapy practice, I’ve been painting thank you notes for strangers and acquaintances. You can try it out too!

Tip #7 – Be the change you want to see.

You might not be in an environment that promotes gratitude, but it doesn’t mean you can’t create it.

If it’s at work, be the person that always drops a mail to the whole team to acknowledge them for their hard work (no matter what level you are at).

At home, be the person that resolves tough situations at home by seeing the good in both parties.

Tip #8 – Change your vocabulary.

If you want to think gratitude, speak of it.

Start using words like “blessed” and “grateful” in your day to day conversations, and not just as an Instagram hashtag!

Social, Social Networks, Grateful Living, Conscious Living, Inspiration

Concluding Thoughts

Ultimately, gratitude is an attitude, and also a skill. It takes some retraining and inner reprogramming, but the more you practice it, the larger the ripple effect will be in your life.

Let me also take the opportunity to express my gratitude to you, for reading this and supporting my blog, in whatever capacity that you do. THANK YOU! 🙂

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gratitude 2020, pin for pinterest


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