What are you tolerating in your life? Why?
It's a simple question. And you probably know the answer. But you don't want to go there. But first, what does it mean to "tolerate" something? By definition, if you are tolerating something, it is a negative in your life. You are "putting up with it," and there is no positive feedback loop. We don't have to tolerate things we love, things that are good for us, positive interactions and actions - we enjoy them, they feed us, and we get back from them.
Okay, so what are you tolerating? Sometimes this question opens up a big can of angry worms. That is not the goal here!
Here's one scenario: You start to list all of your grievances with everyone else in your life: your husband who doesn't listen to you, your kids who don't appreciate you, your boss who always yells at you. "Dammit! Why do I let all of these things go on?" You get pissed off - at the "offenders," and then you start to feel like a victim, and/or you get angry at yourself for tolerating all the abuse you have identified. This approach creates a vicious cycle of victimization and anger. It fills your brain with chemicals that won't allow you to think clearly.
Stop. Look. Listen.
Remember that lesson when you were a kid? Very useful now!
Stop: Let's start from a place of curiosity. This doesn't have to be an anger-fest. This is simply an exercise in taking charge, in being pro-active in your life. Breathe. Set the intention that you will honestly look at what you are tolerating. Promise yourself that when you feel "heavy" emotions, you will breathe through them, knowing you are taking a step in a very positive direction.
Look: At what, you ask? Your life. Where do you stop? Where does it get uncomfortable? When you start to list the things you are tolerating, from the mundane to the profound, try to be as objective as you can. Some of the things you realize you have been putting up with will hit you harder than others. Tolerating wearing ripped underwear is not going to carry the weight of someone crossing all kinds of boundaries with you. List everything. Everything: from having a messy bedroom that creates a chaotic energy to your employees who don't show up on time. It can be an unhealthy lifestyle or having to walk the dog every day. Everything that you tolerate.
Pretend you are an outside observer looking at your life.
Listen: Now, once you've made your list, go inside yourself. Listen to what your heart is telling you. Why are you tolerating these things? Where do you not feel empowered or deserving enough to have the difficult but empowering conversation, empty the chaotic closets or keep your books organized? What are the messages you are hearing? Is it self-sabotage? Are you perpetuating the victimization that everyone is doing it to you as opposed to your not having the chutzpah to speak up, delegate, dig in or generally do what you need to do to move forward in your life? Are you asking for help? If not, why not?
Act: Okay, I added a fourth one... but this is crucial. Pick at least three things off that intolerable "tolerate" list that you are going to tackle in a certain amount of time, like a week. Don't put it off too long, or you won't do it. Start with the easy stuff. Clean out your underwear drawer. Create order out of chaos. Take on an assistant. Hire a house cleaner to get into the places you don't want to get into. Or just invest in garbage bags and dig in.
Next, tackle those conversations you want to have. Plan them. Start from a place of "I feel" or "I'd prefer" instead of from a position of attack. You will avoid a defensive response if you come from a place of your own power and without anger.
Remember that first scenario above, where you listed all your grievances? Here is another scenario that will be more productive:
Scenario #2 Hmm. It seems I'm allowing my boundaries to be crossed. Where is that happening?
Problem: Well, when my husband requests my attention, I give it to him, but when I ask for the same, he tells me he's too busy. How can I solve this problem?
Solution: "I think I'll find a time when neither of us is stressed and it feels like a good time to share my feelings." And then you can plan the conversation in your head. "I will ask him how he feels about this, so I can get his take on it. There's a very good chance he's not even aware of how I am feeling, so I will start from that place." (As opposed to the assumption that he is selfish and doesn't respect you.) "I deserve to be heard, and our relationship deserves the respect of knowing where I am." (In other words, stand in your power.)
Problem: I feel like my kids take advantage of me.
Solution: "I'm going to call a family meeting. We are going to talk about responsibility in the community of our family. I am going to state my requests honestly, clearly and without emotion. I will listen to what everyone has to say, as well. We will create a 'task list' and rotate obligations. I will state calmly what I will and won't tolerate. I will also talk about responsibility and consequences for not following through. I deserve and honor my boundaries."
Remember, staying calm and being honest and objective are key.
You can do this!