It takes a lot of energy to stay on top of things. It takes even more energy to grow, be productive, effective and positive. So it’s always a good idea to take a close look at anything that saps our precious energy.
In the world of personal coaching, we call certain energy-zappers “tolerations.” They can include people, situations, behaviors, pressures, etc. Somewhere along the line you’ve decided to put up with a few things. Maybe you’re a little numb to them by now.
In his book The Portable Coach, Thomas Leonard theorized that our tolerations reveal an awful lot about what’s going on inside of us. They can tell us what we think we deserve and how we choose to live.
When I work with clients, especially in the area of stress-reduction, I ask five questions designed to help them identify, understand, and eliminate their tolerations:
1) What are you tolerating? It can be large or small. Maybe it’s the burned out light bulb in your closet that results in your choosing an outfit in semi-darkness for the past week? Or it could be the way your spouse criticizes you in public.
2) Why are you tolerating it? Common answers are “I’m lazy,” “I don’t care,” “I’m too busy,” “It’s not that important.”
3) Okay, dig a little deeper. What’s the REAL reason you’re tolerating this? “I don’t want to rock the boat.” “It’s easier to tolerate than to change.” Giving honest answers here is an important step! It shows you where you’ve lost sight of what’s truly important to you, where your boundaries have been breached.
4) What is the cost of the toleration to you and those around you? This is another big one. Is this just an occasional annoyance, or is this toleration affecting your happiness, the quality of your relationships, your stress level and your health?
5) What action can you take to eliminate the toleration? Maybe it’s a list of household chores you can knock off on a Saturday morning (Change the light bulb, already!). Other times changes require more introspection and maybe some outside support from a friend or coach. Either way, addressing your tolerations clears the path of friction that builds up there.
We may not acknowledge the stress we put ourselves under by tolerating niggling inconveniences, a messy house, annoying people, work that isn’t challenging, or people who mistreat us. Remember, whether minute or huge, your tolerations can be recognized and eliminated. And it’s not about fixing everyone and everything around you, it’s about being mindful of your own choices and behaviors.