There’s been a lot of emphasis this year on being more tolerant – tolerant of different viewpoints, nationalities, cultural differences, and the like. That’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is tolerations as those parts of our lives and ourselves that perpetually annoy or irritate us, that drain us and sap our energy. The things we “put up with,” because it’s just easier that way.
Thomas J. Leonard, who many consider the father of personal coaching, felt that eliminating tolerations was a major factor in increasing life satisfaction and happiness. Tolerations can include people, circumstances, our own behaviors and bad habits, things in our environment, problems at work or at home. It can be as simple as a messy desk that we don’t take time to organize, or it could be a high-maintenance relationship that constantly drains us. Maybe we’re tolerating extra weight or that we keep meaning to start an exercise program but never do. Basically, we’re all tolerating something if we look closely enough.
The point about tolerations is that the things we put up, whether small or large, become drains on our energy and wear us out over time. That pile of books over there in the corner you keep meaning to go through? The conversation you’re avoiding? The box of donations sitting in your car you keep meaning to drop off? Any or all of these can get in our way, draining our mental energy and keeping us feeling stuck. All of it adds up to stressors that annoy us and can be avoided. The more we eliminate tolerations from our life, the more energy we free up for the things that really matter to us.
The best way to deal with tolerations is to make a list. Look around and think about the things that are draining you. Maybe you’re procrastinating on a home project. Maybe it’s as simple as sweeping out the garage. Write down as many as you can think of – you may come up with 20 or more than 100.
Once your list is done, review the items. There will likely be some you can take care of right away. Start with the easy ones and do those first. Maybe it’s sending off a thank you note you’ve been meaning to send. Or making an appointment for a checkup. Just do it. Once you’ve crossed one off your list, move on to the next one.
Don’t expect to eliminate all your tolerations at one time. Those that are more complicated, such as working at a job you don’t like, will take more time and thought. The point is to get started on removing those things from your life that just aren’t serving you, stress you out, or prevent you from enjoying other aspects of your life.
Many things that happen in our lives are beyond our control, but editing out and simplifying what weighs us down can help to get rid of that sense of stuck-ness and start moving forward in our lives again.