Drop The Burden Of Tolerations

Tolerating things, people, situations, and environments holds you back from making changes to improve your life. Eliminating tolerations clears the way to creating your Excelerated Life™.

An Experiment

What was wrong with me? Although I was constantly busy, I couldn’t get anything accomplished. I bounced from one task to another, but there was always something that prevented me from finishing what I wanted to do.

So I decided to do an experiment. I had been reading Thomas Leonard’s book on personal coaching, The 28 Laws Of Attraction, and one of the chapters, “Step 15: Tolerate Nothing”, had caught my attention. Tolerations, Leonard said, are “things that bug us, sap our energy, and could be eliminated!” [Leonard]

And that, I thought, pretty much summed up what I was dealing with. Perhaps it was time to start eliminating tolerations.

Tolerations – What Are They?

Tolerations are those things that we condone or endure and that are less than ideal. They can be minor things: a missing button, never having a pen when we need one, a messy bathroom. Or they can be bigger: a “friend” that constantly cuts you down, a car that needs major mechanical work, the lack of an emergency fund.

Although we aren’t always aware of it, tolerations distract us from our BIG goals. And they can have other negative impacts. Small frustrations build up over time, so subtly you can’t always pinpoint the reasons you feel stuck or aimless or lacking in energy.

However, if you name and face the things you are tolerating, you get a reflection of what is going on inside you . . . “as within, so without”. And, as Thomas Leonard points out in an article on the Coachville website, “A toleration can be the grain of sand in your oyster that creates a pearl.” [Leonard – www.coachville.com]

Take Inventory

I decided to make a list of some of the things I was tolerating. I took a legal pad and a pencil and walked around my house, taking inventory of the things I was not dealing with.

The first place I looked was in my closet. There was my favorite shirt that I couldn’t wear because it was missing a button on one of the sleeves. I wrote that down. I didn’t try to fix it right then – I was simply making a list. There were also the two pairs of pants that no longer fit which I wanted to take to Goodwill someday.

In the bathroom, I made note of the leaky faucet. At my desk, I looked at the mess of files in the desktop file rack, then jotted them on my list. I added the stacks of papers and books, then the pens and pencils that kept rolling off the desk. As I walked through the house, I made note of the dirty windows I had been planning to clean for the last two months.

I walked out to the garage. There I observed my messy car that hadn’t been washed in a month and the back storage closet where I had been piling odds and ends that I hadn’t taken time to decide what to do with.

Types Of Tolerations

The first step in eliminating tolerations is to list them. Get them down on paper — don’t try to carry the list around in your head. Talane Miedaner, life coach and author, estimates that “most people tolerate anywhere from 60 to 100 things.” [Miedaner] If this is your first time to do this exercise, you may be surprised to see that you have 100 or more. But don’t worry about the number right now, just go through your house and your life and begin taking inventory of your tolerations.

Here are some areas to consider — think about things, people, situations, and environments.

  • Things that need to be cleaned and areas that need to be decluttered and organized: your car, your refrigerator, your desk, your closet, your bureau drawers, your house.
  • Things that need to be repaired: a missing button, a torn hem, malfunctioning electronics, leaky faucets, broken blinds.
  • Maintenance that needs to be done: oil changed in car, burned-out light bulbs replaced, gutters cleaned out, squeaky hinges oiled, HVAC filters changed.
  • Bad habits to break: smoking, drinking too much, mindless TV watching, incessantly looking at phone, chronic lateness.
  • Staying healthy: needing a physical, needing a dental check-up, needing to lose weight, not getting enough sleep.
  • Friends and family: a spouse’s annoying habit, friends that are always late, children not helping with household chores, people that criticize and complain, gossips.

Get Ready . . .

I now had a list of about 25 items. I looked over it thoughtfully, categorizing all the things I had been ignoring, putting up with, or hoping would go away. Some of the tolerations I could address immediately, for a quick win. Others would take more time and planning. I would need help for a few of them and I could ask someone else to do a couple.

Now I had a plan for dealing with everything on my list.

Deal With Them

Once you have your list, decide how you can address each item and begin eliminating your tolerations. Here are some ideas to consider. [Broderick]

  1. Act on it. Sometimes, we become so accustomed to something we’ve been putting up with that we forget we can fix it. Sew on the button. Repair the leaky faucet. Toss out the broken toaster. And if you can’t – or don’t want to – fix it yourself, hire someone to do it.
  2. Let it go. Are you tolerating some things that you could let go of? Your grandmother’s silver tea service that needs polishing and which you will never ever use? Those books you’re never going to get around to reading? “Friends” that constantly criticize you and others? Let them go.
  3. Improve it. You may face some situations, relationships, and environments that you cannot “fix” right away and that you can’t completely let go of. Is there a way you can improve it to make it easier to accept? Can you lessen your exposure? Change the way you think about it? Get someone’s help with it?

Get Set . . . GO

Looking at my list, I decided I could sew on the shirt button in about 5 minutes, so I did. Then I placed the pants to a box of items bound for Goodwill then put the box in my car to take later that day.

I couldn’t fix the faucet right away, so I added the parts I’d need to a shopping list for the next time I want by the hardware store. After that, I called a window cleaning service to schedule them to come wash the windows as I was never going to do that. I planned to take my car by the car wash when I ran the errands to the hardware store and Goodwill.

I continued through my list, dealing with the things I could do in a few minutes and making a plan for addressing the others.

Don’t Try To Do Everything At Once (But Do SOMEthing At Once)

Remember, your objective is not to handle all of your tolerations at once. If you have a good list of stuff you’ve been putting up with, it’s likely not even possible.

Focus on the things you can do today – the low hanging fruit. Then make a plan for addressing the remaining items. Try to deal with several items each week until you’ve worked through your list.


Here is a plan to get started eliminating your own tolerations. Take a notepad and pencil and begin listing everything that is hanging over you, everything you are putting up with, everything you are tolerating. Write down everything that comes to mind. Most people can name anywhere from 60 to 100 things they are tolerating. Put it to the test. Stop reading this right now and jot down 20 things that you are putting up with, I’ll wait . . .

Welcome back! Did you find it pretty easy to come up with 20? more? Did you find it hard to stop at twenty? Some people find it difficult to think of even 1 or two annoyances. In most cases, this is because they’ve become numb to the stuff they are putting up with. This is one reason it’s helpful to write them down — it helps to get your brain engaged and seeing one or two things will often remind you of others. Then the flood gate opens!

When you’ve listed everything you can think of, take your paper and pencil and walk through your house. In each room, look around and see if you are reminded of other items that need to go on your list. Write those down. Go out to the garage and do the same thing. Look at your car — what are you tolerating there? Walk around the outside of the house and in your yard and garden. What are the things that you have been putting up with or putting off? Do not waste energy on any of these items any longer. Add them to the list.

Of course, just listing the things you are tolerating is not the end of the project. Once you have your list — and there may be a 100 or more items, big and small — make a plan to take care of all of these things you have been putting up with.

Go through the list, item by item. Remember the 3 options of dealing with tolerations: Act on it if you can. Let it go if that’s what is needed. Improve it if you can’t eliminate it. If it can be done in 5 minutes or less, do it now. If it will take longer, schedule a date and time and put it on your calendar. Some things will be too big to do in one step. Break them down into discrete actions and work these into your schedule. There may be some things on your list that you don’t know how to approach. That’s OK, too. Just write them down for now. As you work through the things you can deal with, a solution may come to you.

Some of your tolerations may not be easily broken into tasks. These are the ones that deal with people. You may need to ask for an apology or to apologize, to forgive or beg forgiveness. You may need to heal a broken relationship or end a relationship that is draining you. These are the hardest ones for most of us to do. But the peace you receive from dealing with these issues is worth the effort.

Wrap Up

As I dealt with those things I had been mindlessly putting up with, I began to feel more energetic, more “with it”. It felt good to see things from this perspective – no more turning a blind eye to things I needed to deal with.

But how could I hold on to this good feeling? I knew how easy it is to slip back into old behaviors. So I began to take small steps to change the old habits I had fallen into. For example, I would put away books and files after I finished with them. And I explored ways to automate some things and to set up a system to automatically deal with them. I added a recurring calendar entry to change HVAC filters and smoke alarm batteries and I began keeping extra light bulbs on hand so I could replace them right away when needed.

I was dealing with my stuff and thereby eliminating tolerations.

And I hope now you are doing the same. Because that clears the way for creating your Excelerated Life™.

Dealing with the things you’ve been tolerating is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being and a life of meaning, purpose and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Broderick, Rich. “Tolerate Less.” Experience Life. Lifetime, Inc., April 2010. Web. April 11, 2020.

Leonard, Thomas. The 28 Laws Of Attraction. New York: Scribner, 1998

Leonard, Thomas. “Toleration Free Program.” CoachVille.com. CoachVille LLC, . Web. April 11, 2020.

Miedaner, Talane. Coach Yourself To Success. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary Books, 2000

eliminating tolerations

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