Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Hello beautiful humans!
"Be careful what you tolerate. You are teaching others how to treat you." ~Unknown
A toleration is something that we put up with even though it upsets us, it drains our energy or we just plain don't like it. It can be as small as a crooked picture on the wall or as big as a relationship gone bad and despite the negative impact it has on our lives, we continue to accept it.
So many of us are willing to look the other way and tolerate the things in our lives that bring us down, but why? Is it because we're too lazy to straighten that picture on the wall? Is it because we are waiting for someone else to straighten it? Do we not have the time or resources? Maybe we don't even realize how one little toleration can have such an affect on us?
In some ways, we've been told, taught and trained that being tolerant is a good thing and in some ways it may be. Too much of a good thing, however, is never a good thing and there are some instances when tolerance is not necessary. When the things we have grown tolerant of start to affect our daily life by causing us undue and unnecessary stress, anxiety and simply just bringing us down and draining us of our positivity and energy.
Before we can do anything about these tolerations, we need to understand them.
When I first learned about tolerations, it was easiest for me to recognize my own by defining them. So below are some brief descriptions of different types of tolerations to simplify identifying your own.
Minor tolerations are just little things that get on our nerves. Like straightening a picture (as stated above), getting the spice cabinet organized, finishing a project, making the bed or putting the laundry away. Just little things, but they tend to add up after awhile the same way that one snowflake at a time can add up to an avalanche.
Then There Are The Big Ones
The big tolerations are more than just irritations or minor annoyances. They are the things that require work to address. They usually involve at least one other person and although we still have options of handling these things, they are more difficult than just organizing our desk or finding something for dinner. Relationship problems, including significant others, family, friends, etc., issues at work and things of that nature.
And The Concrete Tolerations
These are the tolerations like our mortgage, taxes and car payments, paying the bills, you know... the responsibilities of being an adult. They are the ones that you can't really ignore and sometimes they are tolerations that we can't change if we desire to have the things we want. In other words, if we choose to have a specific home then we are bound by the payments and terms of our contract which can be a toleration.
Self tolerations are things about yourself that you tolerate. Maybe it's a habit like smoking or drinking. Maybe you want to exercise more, eat healthier or learn something new. Anything that requires changes to yourself.
Once you know what your tolerations are, start getting rid of them! Start with some of the smaller ones first. As you go, you will find some that cause a ripple effect and will automatically eliminate others. These are known as Pivotal Tolerations. They create a pivotal change in your list of tolerations. By eliminating one pivotal toleration, you can remove or change several other tolerations from your list. Pivotal Tolerations are often hiding in your list. You may not even realize how much or how many other tolerations they can affect.
For instance, Let's say some of your smaller tolerations are getting your kitchen more organized, cleaning the bathroom, catching up on laundry... One of your big tolerations might be getting your home in order. When you complete the smaller tolerations, you might look back and see that now your home is in order.
Another example, let's say you want to get your hair cut, your nails done, take a bubble bath and buy an outfit for yourself. Taking care of these smaller things might contribute to building your self confidence or self esteem.
I've also found that they snow ball. Just like how not doing anything about them builds into an avalanche, once you do start addressing them, the sense of accomplishment and energy you get pushes you to do more and more until you are able to look down out your list and see that it isn't nearly as big as when you started.
When you are addressing tolerations that involve others, it can start to get a little tricky. Much like Concrete Tolerations, you may be limited in what you can do, but you do always have a choice. Sometimes, the solutions are not always evident and require some creativity or brainstorming. Sometimes, the outcomes of addressing the toleration will not yield a favorable outcome. You do have to consider the consequences of your decisions and be prepared to own them.
For instance, let's say there is a co-worker you are not getting along with. What are your options for eliminating this as a toleration?
You could always have a talk with the co-worker (and preferrably a mediator that isn't your direct management). This doesn't always work either, especially if they aren't interested in working with you towards a peaceful resolution.
You could try avoiding them, although this doesn't really give a solution to the problem it may create enough distance to eliminate the negativity you are feeling. But if you work in close proximity or maybe together on a project, so avoidance is not always a viable option either.
You could ask to be moved to another department, but there may not be any openings or another department to move to.
You could look for another job, but maybe there isn't one that pays what you are paid or perhaps you live somewhere with few employment options and you need your job to pay your bills.
Now what? Let's say you have explored every solution you can think of and are still not able to remove this toleration from your list. That's ok! The point is that you did everything that you can do. Just like your concrete tolerations, there are going to be things that are beyond your control. This is when you start working on ways to accept that you cannot change their behavior, so instead, you will need to either learn to live with it or address how you show up and react when dealing with them. Looking for ways to shift your engagements with them from negative to positive, or as positive as possible, could be one option. You could pay them some sort of genuine compliment each time you deal with them or just simply smile. It may not change the situation, but whatever positive action you can take to avoid the negativity will help you to decrease the validity of that toleration in your life.
Working On Your List
The point of creating the list is not to hang it on your fridge and check something off everyday. It's meant to bring you awareness to what drains your energy and drags you down. It gives you a place to start working towards goals that can have a small or even significant impact on your life. You may look at your list in a month and notice it has completely changed or that some of the tolerations just aren't as important as you thought they were. You might find that what you thought was a toleration is actually the side effect of a bigger issue and you might even discover that you've eliminated half your list and didn't even know it.
How many tolerations do you have in your life? 20....30....100... more? How long are you going to allow them to have a negative impact on your life before you finally start to do something about them?
Morals of the Story:
Tolerations are things that you put up with that drain your energy and create negativity in your life.
Creating a list of tolerations can give you a starting point for change.
Eliminating some tolerations can help eliminate others
Not all tolerations can be eliminated and that's ok! We do what we can!