|Helena S. Mock, Esq.
Tolerations are the little annoyances we put up with on a daily basis. They are the things in our work and home lives, relationships, health, and finances that we simply accept because it would be too difficult, or too painful, or just take too long to resolve. Or so we think. And they really aren’t that bad, are they? After all, we’ve been living with many of them for years, and we’re still doing okay
My tolerations are not keeping me from being successful; they are not keeping me from being happy; and they are not keeping me from living my life to the fullest. Or are they?
Studies show that tolerations drain energy, but we don’t usually notice it because we are so used to living with them. Some examples of tolerations include:
•My desk is so full of work that needs to be done, I feel overwhelmed;
•I haven’t been to the dentist in 3 years;
•My husband has been telling me he will clean out the garage for months;
•I never seem to get enough sleep;
•The kitchen faucet drips incessantly;
•My teenager is constantly staying out past curfew and doesn’t call to say he’ll be late;
•I really need to set aside some time for exercise;
•I hate spending weekends cleaning my house; I really need to hire someone to help me;
•Employee Y is creating office drama and disrupting the work environment.
These are just a few examples, some of which were on my own tolerations list for quite some time before I finally tackled them. And I know you probably have quite a few on your list as well, some of which are not even your responsibility; or rather you don’t see them as your responsibility; and the fact that someone else hasn’t done them is just plain annoying. For example, I drive into that garage every day after work and just cringe at the mess. Why doesn’t he clean it, I ask myself every day… do I have to do everything myself? Now you don’t really mean that; you are just frustrated because you keep seeing the mess… or hearing the dripping faucet… or not getting that
phone call from your teenager. Sometimes we think we are dealing with things best by ignoring them, but they are still there, annoying you a little more every day, and getting harder and harder to ignore.
Note that none of these things are particularly difficult to deal with. Yes, some will take more effort, or time, on your part than others, but in most cases, the tolerations we live with are relatively minor. Start by identifying the items on your list that would take the least amount of time to resolve and work up to the biggies. For example, let’s take the dentist off my list. All I have to do to resolve that one is to make (and then keep) an appointment with my dentist. So why don’t I do it? I start by asking myself why I haven’t been to the dentist in 3 years. That’s the first question. Step 1 – Identify the “Why”.
Once you are honest with yourself about the why, the next step is to identify what’s standing in your way of resolving this issue now. Maybe my dentist retired and I just don’t know who I should see. Or, maybe the last time I had a checkup, the dentist told me I would be needing a root canal soon, and I definitely don’t want to do that. Is it a matter of taking the time? Is this something I need help with from someone else? Does it require an uncomfortable conversation with someone? Whatever the reason, stopping to identify, and then acknowledge, what’s holding you back, will help you move forward. Step 2 – Identify and acknowledge what’s standing in your way of getting this done? Once you have answered this question, you are one step closer to finally striking it off your list.
The next step is to determine what you need to do or who you need to talk to in order to resolve the situation. Do I need to ask friends about who they would recommend as a new dentist, or do I simply need to make the call and schedule the appointment? Again, we are just determining what needs to be done here; we are not yet taking action. This step is important if the project requires some planning first. For example, if I need to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone, this step in the process will allow me to think about the best way to approach the subject with the other person. Obviously, with the dentist example, there’s nothing to do here except decide which dentist to call. That may take some time for research, checking patient reviews, talking to friends, etc. But it’s certainly not as involved as deciding how best to discuss the garage situation with my husband or how to approach an employee who is not working up to expectations. These situations take more time and more consideration to decide the best approach. Step 3 – Identify what needs to be done to resolve the situation?
The tolerations that involve other people can be the most frustrating and the most difficult to resolve because marking them off your list requires you to confer with someone else. This is why Step 3 is so important. Step 3 gives you time to analyze the situation and determine the best approach. Without Step 3, you may wind up simply getting angry and blowing up, which creates other problems. Taking time to analyze the situation and prepare for a potentially uncomfortable conversation will likely produce a better result than simply exploding from frustration. This step also gives you time to consider the situation from the other person’s perspective. Why isn’t he stepping up to clean the garage? Doesn’t it bother him as much as it bothers me? Maybe it’s just as overwhelming to him as all those files on my desk are to me. Once I can calmly look at a situation from another’s perspective, suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.
The final step is to move forward. It doesn’t do any good to go through steps 1, 2, and 3 above if I still never make the call to schedule the appointment. You might think this step is the hardest part because it requires you to take action. But once you have gone through the first 3 steps, this part really isn’t as bad as you imagined. Sometimes there is a lot involved in taking action. Scheduling an appointment with my dentist may only take a few minutes, but sitting down with an employee to address job performance will definitely take more time. But after you have gone through the first 3 steps, you are on a roll and it’s not that difficult to just roll into Step 4. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel by now. One more step and you get to cross that annoying toleration off your list. You’ve come to far to stop now. Step 4 – just do it!
A toleration generally refers to the conditional acceptance of a situation, and we all have them. But living with a lot of tolerations can zap our energy and negatively impact our well-being in a variety of ways. Take the opportunity now to cross just one toleration off your list. I guarantee it will feel so good, you will want to tackle another, and then another. Watch how your mood and energy improve as your list of tolerations gets smaller and smaller.