We often think of those who are “tolerant” in a positive light, as people who are open-minded and considerate of others. But toleration is one of those positive traits that can also veer into the negative.
Merriam Webster defines tolerant as
“inclined to tolerate; especially: marked by forbearance or endurance
- tolerant parents
- a culture tolerant of religious differences”
It sounds kind of exhausting, doesn’t it? Who wants to “forbear” or “endure” anything?
This week I have a challenge for you: take a few minutes to stop and think about what or who you are tolerating. Are you doing it willingly or grudgingly? How much mental or physical energy do you expend tolerating things? What would happen if you could direct that energy elsewhere?
Try this: make a list of everything you're tolerating, big and small. Everything from a squeaky door to a job that’s a poor fit. Now, try taking a small step each day towards eliminating the things you’re tolerating. Buy some oil and take care of that hinge. Ask a friend for a reference for a gardener to trim those out of control hedges one day, make the call the next. You’ll be amazed at how taking charge of even the smallest things can give you back a feeling of control and ease, and over time, how aware you will become of allowing things to be added to that list.
I think you’ll find that if you start with the small things it will both relieve your mind of the clutter that distracts you and propel you towards tackling some of those bigger challenges.
Becoming aware is the first step towards making change: so pick up your pen or fire up your notes app and see how many “tolerations” you can list. Nothing is too big or too small.
Here’s a link to the Google doc I like to use for my list, print it out if you like. You should include categories such as house, family, work, wellness, friends, and other. I go old school and hang my list on the fridge. Then I check things off the list, because admit it: who doesn’t like to check things off a list? Challenge yourself to make as long a list as possible: again, nothing is too small. Break things into tiny steps.
There are a few benefits to tackling tolerations in this way:
- I guarantee once you start working on your list you’ll feel better. So for example if you start working on tolerations around the house, you’ll feel happier when you walk in the door at the end of the day.
- You’ll start to see that even spending small amounts of time on the things you’ve been avoiding will make a big difference.
- You’ll notice that it doesn’t take as much time as you thought to accomplish things on your list.
- Accomplishing the tiny things on the list is addictive: you will want to move on to the big stuff.
Why not get things rolling by tackling the easiest item right now?
Speaking of tolerance: here’s a lovely story of the good kind of tolerance, to lift your heart and restore your faith in humanity. Times are tough, but so are we.
If you need some help tackling the more difficult things on your list, let's schedule a 45 minute chat and get you on track! My specialty is helping people edit their lives to delete distractions and add meaning so they find joy in their life’s work