What Are You Tolerating?

“I will not tolerate that behavior anymore.” I remember my mother saying that to me more than once during my formative years. This was not a suggestion. She meant to do something about it had I not gotten the message. What the behavior was is not important to me now. It’s the concept of tolerating.

The mastermind group I belong to shares resources. Since we formed in December to begin around the first of the new year we had time to exchange goal setting forms as well as other tools that are helpful in general. The one that caught my eye first was titled, “What Are You Tolerating?” The page was separated into two columns, each column with numbered lines. I was staring at two pages worth, one hundred possible items one might be tolerating. “Wow, that’s an awful lot of tolerating” I thought. Then I started to fill in what came easily to my mind. I got to 32 without blinking an eye. And that was what came up easily.

Maybe I should describe the concept and why it might be important to take stock of tolerations.

When my mother said she would no longer tolerate my behavior her goal was to let me know that something I was doing no longer worked for her. She was probably, in her infinite wisdom and glory, hoping to correct a behavior that was not going to work for me either outside of adolescence. She had clearly had enough and took action to be free of what could likely be looked at as, annoying the s*** out of her.

Tolerations are things we suffer, work around, try to ignore and put up with for a time.

Can you think of something right now that provokes mother’s phrase in your life? If it’s the behavior of someone close to you or a work colleague you may have to carefully craft what to say and when and how to say it. Sometimes the hard truth is that a person needs to get pink slipped out our lives. If you feel it’s too hard to talk with said annoyer, ask yourself this question. What is the cost to your psyche and that relationship when you stuff what you feel ?

If we are talking something simple, however, like the lock on your door is loose and so getting the lock open is a jiggling and wiggling marathon to get the key positioned right-that’s a toleration with an easier fix. One you can probably eliminate with a call to a locksmith. (If you’ve got a handy hubby or sig other, you will tolerate it til they get around to the honey do list.) This is a good time to mention that tolerance is a different concept and welcome in a world where the many variations on a theme of being human live side by side.

Here’s a “for instance” of a former toleration. A couple of years ago I had to replace a wallet I loved. My wallet lover was expensive, Italian, perfectly broken in and a rich brown in color. In fact it was too broken in and cards and money were forever falling out. My search for a suitable replacement ended in frustration and an “ok for now” choice. Well “for now” lasted 2+ years and every time I looked at my red, perfectly ok choice, which was in fact fatter than I liked my wallets, I had a slight sense of annoyance. After doing my toleration sheet I decided to dig out a gift certificate to Coach leather and do some wallet shopping. My new black, thin, chic wallet makes me happy. I feel like myself again. The moral of this story is something doesn’t have to be falling apart before you move on from it. It just has to no longer be a fit.

Here’s another one from my list; my top drawer, aka, my underwear drawer. It’s was a mess. It was not just a mess it was messed up. Jewelry strangled thongs, which shared a bed with camisoles I no longer wore and unmentionables that make me go Hmmm? Daily I said to myself, “I am going to do this on Sunday. I’m going to untangle and sort, give away or throw away what no longer works.” But like you, I do work. When a day off comes I resist giving it up to do something I know will be satisfying but not nearly as much fun as say reading the Times from end to end or watching that Netflix flick which has been on the kitchen counter for 4 weeks. (Do I detect another toleration in the form of an innocent bit of plastic on the counter gathering dust?)

Here’s the bottom line of tolerating. These creatures of “ok for now” steal our energy whether you think so or not. Usually, not always, we tolerate things we can change easily. I think we do so because we don’t recognize the full weight of those things lurking in our corners, drawers, and garages. We may swear daily we will do something about the missing light bulb over the stove, and swear and swear until we have to make it happen. What shifts? Awareness I believe. Doing this toleration exercise can be powerful in moving towards a bigger and better sense of control and power in your life. For some readers, the things I mentioned may live in the “don’t sweat the small stuff” category. For many more of you, they steal energy and focus. And I’d like to add I think the first group is fooling themselves.

The folks at Coach U have a great couple of pages worth of categories and lists of tolerations. It resides within their concept of a Toleration Free Life, and their tagline is, “Life’s Waiting.” You can see it by clicking on this link. (http://www.coachville.com//tl/tolerationfree/tolerationbank.html?) Their ideas may or may not be exact for you but will probably give you some ideas for your own life.

Clearing clutter feels virtuous. Replacing a simple thing like a light bulb makes sense. The weightless feeling that comes with an intentional life, where everything works and supports us? Priceless.