When You Feel Like Life is Pushing You Out of the Window

April 4, 2024

You may not have heard of the Window of Tolerance, but you have one and you have been pushed out of it before, especially if you have experienced trauma.

Like fingerprints, a person’s Window of Tolerance is unique and is reflective of the experiences they have gone through. It is the amount of bandwidth we have for navigating life’s ups and downs without feeling overwhelmed. When we are in our Window of Tolerance, we feel calm, responsive instead of reactive, and creative. We can maintain a focus in the present moment and more able to connect socially with others and feel safe.

Sometimes life can go sideways quickly, and it feels overwhelming. Imagine that you discover a busted water heater on a Friday night, you go through a breakup or an argument with your partner, or you lose your wallet; we have all been pushed out of our Window of Tolerance and it is stressful. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, the founder of the Window of Tolerance theory, when this happens, we can move into hyper arousal (panic mode) or hypo arousal (shut-down mode). Both are difficult experiences which people around us may or may not even know we are having. Sometimes we vacillate between these two extremes multiple times a day, which is exhausting and makes it hard to cope.

When we are pushed out of our Window of Tolerance, we become dysregulated and struggle to make rational, wise decisions and take a healthy perspective on ourselves and the situation at hand. (This is where the science comes in. Please check out the link below…)

I work with clients who are pushed into hyperarousal or hyperarousal by life circumstances for many reasons and need support and information to help them understand what is happening to them. With qualified counselling support, increased self-awareness, and the practicing of self-regulation skills, you can widen your window of tolerance, reduce distress, and feel more capable. I invite you to call for a free 15-minute consultation to talk more about the window of tolerance or any other issue you want counselling help with.


a woman sitting on a window sill holding a pillow

**Please Note: Counselling is not regulated in BC so anybody can call themselves a counsellor. They do not need to have a university degree or any training, and they can charge whatever they want, sometimes the same as or more than those of us with a master’s degree or PhD. Please be aware and make sure you see a counsellor who has at least a master’s degree. Your mental health deserves it!**


Wright, A. (2022, May 23). What is the window of tolerance, and why is it so important?. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/making-the-whole-beautiful/202205/what-is-the-window-tolerance-and-why-is-it-so-important

Things can get better. Talking helps.

Contact me and book an appointment today.