What Are You Tolerating?

When I began my training as a life coach nearly a decade ago, one of the areas we explored was "tolerations."

Tolerations are those things that you put up with but often don't need to.

They are the habits, relationships, physical objects, beliefs, etc., that drag you down and get in the way of a richer quality of life.

Here are a few tolerations in my own life right now:

  • a messy office/studio
  • not having a summery wrap or jacket to wear when it's hot and sunny to prevent a sunburn
  • a crazy bad haircut (getting fixed this afternoon!)
  • tension in my chest and shoulders
  • limited range of motion in my feet
  • living too far from a more natural/peaceful environment

All of these are things I can address. And if I don't, they will nag at me. Get in the way of me doing what I really want. Nudge my self-esteem down. Make life less enjoyable. Leave me less able to experience life's fullness. 

It can be an incredibly powerful - but sometimes overwhelming - thing to look at all of your tolerations at once. But it can also lend itself to opening up new possibilities. 

For example, at my first coach training, one of my instructors shared how she addressed a LOOOONG list of tolerations by selling her house. Her husband had passed away in it and being in the house surrounded her with painful memories. There were a ton of repairs needed. And the space and location didn't really suit her needs. So she sold the house and life drastically improved.

I wonder what you are tolerating? What in your life are you simply "putting up with"?


There's another side to this, though. It has to do with your ability to tolerate discomfort, your ability to maintain your sense of self in the face of opposition, in the face of stress, in the presence of unwanted realities. It has to do with capacity.

Perhaps you've explored this understanding of toleration, too. When your life - your relationships, your body, your profession, your whatever - challenge your sense of self and your steadfastness and your ability to be present. When you are beyond your capacity. 

I was thinking about this in the shower this morning (still my favorite place to think, even with a 4-year-old constantly checking in!). I was thinking about a specific relationship that has really challenged my capacity and I was being with my sadness around being misperceived, I stayed with feelings of shame that I would be seen in these particular ways. 

And the question arose...."Can I tolerate this?"

And the answer arose..."Yes."

Yes, I can tolerate the fact that there are people who think poorly of me. I can tolerate knowing that I am misperceived. I can tolerate that I am misunderstood and maligned. 

It felt good to know this. 

The question evolved from there, though, and became, "What can't you tolerate that you wish to tolerate?"

And I thought of my belly - and the distension that I've dealt with for years (which went away recently and just returned following this miscarriage - something to be with, for sure). And I thought of the pelvic floor discomfort that sometimes arises. And I thought of parts of my husband. And particular behaviors of my son. And certain behaviors of myself.

I felt sad that there were these parts of life that leave me unmoored. That when I encounter them I get lost and anxious and unable to consistently stay with myself (and others). I felt sad that my capacity for toleration is so low in these places. 

And that felt okay, too. 

I feel sad, and I can also see how my capacity has doubled, has tripled, has just grown and grown over the last few years. As I wrote about to you last week, my recent miscarriage really brought that home to me. So my sadness wasn't mixed with hopelessness. I know I'm on the right path. But it can be hard to see the ways I'm not able to be the person I want to be. 

Have you run into those limits in yourself? Those places where maybe you freak out about your body? Or you lose your shit with your partner or kid? Or you punish yourself in some way or another? 

Clearly, I totally get it. 


Over the years, I keep discovering how the body becomes this way in. This way into encountering these places. This way of seeing and knowing and changing, yes, changing!

Whether it's noticing what happens in your body when you go visit someone or pick up an object in your home...

Whether it's staying in touch with your feelings of panic as you get into a particular position...

Whether it's playing with the breath as you talk about particular subjects...

Whether it's opening yourself up to changing your definitions around health and your willingness to change your self/life to meet those definitions...

Whether it's observing the moment that you lose or gain sensation, awareness and a loving posture toward yourself...

Whether it's exploring the way your movement habits change depending on the situation...

The body helps you know what you are unnecessarily tolerating and where your capacity for toleration could stand to increase. 


My 8-week course, HeartBody Method is about this capacity. 

HBM is about finding your physical capacity - the limits to your range of motion - so you can move without getting injured and begin to make real change.

HBM is about meeting yourself where you are - no matter your capacity - with love and curiosity and showing up over and over again. 

HBM is about working at the edges of your capacity so that you can extend your capacity. 

But it's also about eliminating tolerations. 

HBM is about ending your toleration around NOT being in true relationship with your body. 

HBM is about giving you the tools to take care of the body issues that you are tolerating. 

HBM is about you being able to see more clearly what you need and don't need in your life to bring you toward wholeness.