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Tolerate Nothing


Have you ever known someone who was just too darned nice? Once I had a client like that; we’ll call her Betsy. Betsy put up with a lot from her co-workers, her boss, her adult children and especially from her newly retired husband. She was actually a very accomplished, intelligent woman who over time had compromised her life away. Finally, when she came to me as a coaching client, she was ready to go postal.


Because she was so strong and could take a lot from others, she did. Eventually the burden of tolerating so much would cause her to blow up in frustration and anger. Then the people in her life would make promises, and things would cool down for a while. But the vicious cycle would soon return draining Betsy’s energy in the process.


I’m happy to report that Betsy is feeling much better now because she had the courage to systematically work through and eliminate what she once routinely tolerated. She made a list of her top 100 tolerations (most of us are tolerating hundreds of things we could fix) and agreed to permanently take care of five a week. Toleration is a made up word coined by author and life coach Thomas Leonard in his groundbreaking personal development book, The Portable Coach. Leonard defined tolerations as things that bug us, sap our energy and could be eliminated.


We need to realize that life is challenging enough without allowing extra drains on our energy. Someone once said that pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional. We have choices regarding our tolerations. We can choose to end our suffering and gain more time and energy. Admitting that it’s up to us and then deciding to make requests and take actions to eliminate tolerations once and for all is the key to greater happiness and well-being.


Are you ready to begin? Good. Let’s start with the easier ones, those relating to the objects and environments in our lives. Read over the list below and write down all the tolerations you have under each item. Since you are writing them down to eventually cross them off as completed, make sure that each toleration will take you no longer than 30-60 minutes to complete. If the job is bigger than that, like a garage you can’t use as a garage, break it down into smaller chunks.



(Possible) Tolerations in Your Life


  • Physical clutter
  • Things in plain sight that no longer brighten your spirits
  • Broken objects you have not decided whether to fix or throw out
  • Uncompleted projects
  • Home repairs that aren't scheduled
  • Physical surroundings that dampen your spirits
  • Stacks of magazines or newspapers with forgotten value
  • Anything out of place or objects without an assigned home
  • Clothing with holes or stains or any clothing you haven’t worn for two years
  • Anything in the way: Objects that you continually bump into or have to step over or around


How did you do? If you’re like most of us you have well over 200 items on your list. Feel good about this. Every single one of them you can permanently fix � one at a time. The rush of reclaimed energy that comes from this “fix” will make you feel so much lighter and younger.


Now for the more challenging items. This next list is made of personal productivity habits and relationship tolerations. Even though they seem more difficult to face, often it’s as simple as mustering the courage to make a request and set a personal boundary. Now add the tolerations to your list that come to mind as you read the following list. Remember: If they bother you -- they are tolerations. If you can do something about them then you must, in order to live a more fulfilling, freer life.


Personal Productivity, Relationship Tolerations


  • Personal habits that you find repelling or unattractive
  • Abusive or disrespectful behavior from others
  • Overloaded and never-ending to do lists
  • Un-seized opportunities
  • Any truth that you continually have to step over or around
  • Distasteful relationships that drain your energy
  • Little irritants
  • Unresolved issues
  • Decisions you have put on hold
  • Truths that need to be shared with friends or family
  • Situations where you routinely are less than forthright
  • Health issues you are ignoring
  • Compromised situations and justifications you have talked yourself into


Now agree to meet with a life coach -- or anyone who will hold you accountable -- to eliminate at least three of these tolerations every single week until your list is no more. Soon you’ll feel the delight of momentum and it will encourage you to act more frequently.


Leonard made a couple of brilliant distinctions in his book, The Portable Coach:


“Toleration Free vs. Intolerant � Someone who is intolerant refuses to allow others the enjoyment of their opinions, rights or worship. To be toleration free simply means that you don’t put up with other people’s behavior, or with situations, when they are bad for you. You can be tolerant and at the same time toleration free.”


“Tolerate vs. Cope � When you tolerate, you view things you are tolerating as solvable. When you cope, you’ve basically resigned yourself to the problem’s long-term presence.”


As a life coach, one of the saddest things I frequently overhear is one friend answering the inquiry of another. Friend one: “Hey, how are things going?” The second friend answers: “Same old, same old.” That declaration of admitting that nothing new is happening in one’s life sounds to me like it is coming from a person who has resigned from life. It sounds like they are just coping and going through the motions. I understand it could just be an automatic response, like one of those habits we unintentionally fell into. That’s what happens with tolerations. They sneak up on us, accumulate over time and desensitize us to the life we could be living. If this feels like a truth for you -- do something about it. Tolerate nothing and get your life back.


By Tom Volkar

for www.boomthis.com


Tom Volkar is a life and career coach who can be reached at 412-655-0872 or Tom@CoreU.com.Read about Tom’s coaching at http://www.CoreU.com. Tom enthusiastically blogs on work, life, freedom and happiness at http://DelightfulWork.com.
















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