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What Are You Tolerating?

What Are You Tolerating? Collage ModernRetroWoman.com
“What Are You Tolerating?” Collage images courtesy of Paul Malon (Feen-A-Mint Laxatives advertisement), Polly/fidgetrainbowtree, and Jamie (Eaton credit card advertisement) all on Flickr.

To live a glamorous life filled with ease, we need to focus on energy management instead of time management.  All too often, we are told how to cram one more activity into a finite time period.  But we aren’t able to sustain that level of energy exertion.  Focusing on time management is like trying to run a marathon as if it were a sprint and we end up frustrated, overwhelmed, or burnt out.  The good news is that, unlike time which remains finite, energy is like a muscle that can be developed and increased if we learn to use it to our advantage.  And one of the first steps in managing our energy is to figure out the little ways we are losing it.  Today we will focus on those things we are tolerating that are sapping our energy resources.

First, let’s examine what I mean by tolerating.  I am not talking about it in a socio-political way.  For our purposes, tolerating is about all of those little things we put up with every day that are using up mental or emotional energy. At the very least, they are mind clutter.  At the most, they use up almost all of our energy reserves so that we have difficulty coping with the seemingly mundane aspects of life (such as when you can’t even seem to choose which package of frozen broccoli you want to buy).  

[Tweet ” Tolerations are those little things that use up mental or emotional energy.”]

For example, when I did this exercise with a group of faculty women a few months ago, some of the things mentioned were needing a new bathrobe, returning the plastic bags to the recycling bin at the grocery store that were taking over the pantry, needing to make doctors appointments, unfinished creative projects, missing buttons on blouses, lack of physical activity, the spot on the carpet that needs to be cleaned, dust bunnies, not being firm about boundaries, and toxic “relationships.”  As you can see, tolerating can run the full gamut of things that are constantly nagging at us for our attention.

Your assignment for today is to get out your Glamorous Whole Life Makeover notebook, open to the first sheet of paper and title it Tolerations List.  Then create four columns with the titles Toleration, Estimated Time Needed, Next Step, and Resolved. Now list 25 things you are tolerating in the “Toleration” column.  Don’t edit.  Don’t prejudge.  You may not be able to think of all 25 things in one sitting but as you go about your day, you will think of something that you can add to the list.  The purpose is to get it out of your head and onto the Tolerations List.

Now, I know you’ll want to go bonkers and want to start crossing everything off of that list in one day.  Don’t.  This is a mindful process designed to prevent burnout.  After you’ve made the list, think about each of the things you are tolerating and estimate how much time you would need  or the next step you need to do to resolve it.  Some will be easy and obvious to resolve–such as finally taking that donation bag to the thrift store.  The next step would be to actually take it out to your car so that it is already ready for the next time you are out running errands.  Or, if it is already in your car, the next step would be to actually stop at the thrift store to drop it off.  Other tolerations will require a bit more planning.  If this is the case, use another sheet of paper and title it Toleration to be Resolved: (Name the Toleration).  Then list the steps that need to be taken  to resolve it or thoughts you have about it. You may also want to ask yourself what benefit you are getting out allowing a toleration to continue.  Why are you putting up with it?  These sheets of Toleration to be Resolved will go behind your master list of tolerations.  

It is important to note that not everything you are tolerating should be viewed as negative.  Some things we put up with out of love for another person.  For example, my husband does our dishes because he knows how much I hate doing them.  It is one of the bajillion ways he shows me he loves me.  The so-called toleration is that there is no rhyme or reason to how he puts the dishes away.  I could allow myself to get frustrated about it or focus on the fact that if kitchen organization is that important to me, then I should be doing the dishes myself.

As hard and painful as it may be, some things we are tolerating can only be eliminated by invoking the Frozen theme song.

After you have done this exercise, your challenge for the week is to see how many of the easy ones you can get done without going bonkers.  You may want to resolve one or two each day. But remember that eliminating tolerations from your life will not happen overnight.  However, as you start eliminating the things you’ve been tolerating, you will notice you have more energy and clarity and will feel inspired to continue the elimination process.  You will also become more sensitive to those things that are ripe for becoming future tolerations and will be able to resolve them before they start sapping your energy.

Are you willing to share something you have been tolerating and what you can do to eliminate it?  My example is that I was tolerating very dull knives.  I knew better and would grumble about them all of the time.  I would mutter to myself about not knowing where my knife sharpener is and lament that I hadn’t sharpened my knives in the two years that we’ve lived here.  Finally, as I was wrestling with a Hubbard squash the other day, I mentioned my frustration to The Mister and that I was afraid I was going to hurt myself.  He looked at me with a “why didn’t you say something sooner” look and said he could sharpen the knives with the same sharpening stone he uses for his sculpting tools.  It really was as easy as that to eliminate something I’ve been tolerating!

Are you ready to free up your energy by eliminating what you’ve been tolerating?

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  1. I’ve been tolerating 2 shabby chairs that I love dearly. They are wingback-style recliners that my husband and I sit in every morning as we drink our coffee and read the paper. They’re incredibly shabby (mine more than his–go figure) and I’m longing to get them reupholstered, but I’m sure it’s going to cost a lot of money and we’ll have to live without them for a while. I’m estimating it will take weeks, maybe even a month or two? A friend gave me the business card of a reputable upholsterer. I guess the next step is to call him and get an estimate, so I can know for sure if the cost is within our reach.

    1. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say about how long it will take. I’m betting that it won’t take as long as you are thinking it will.

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