Repost: On Tolerating Stress and Letting It Affect Your Life

I had this Gulf News article bookmarked last year. It’s only today that I had time to read it thoroughly. Thought it’s worth sharing as I’m sure everyone can relate to it 🙂

Stop tolerating life’s little niggles

From burnt-out light bulbs to a colleague’s body odour and a glove box that won’t stay shut, we’re all tolerating things that are sapping our energy and increasing our stress levels, says Christine Fieldhouse

Tarub’s alarm clock goes off and she starts to wake up, aware that her bed sheets are feeling a little worn and rough. She picks up her dressing gown from the floor. She couldn’t hang it up the night before because the tag at the back has been broken for two months.

Her shower isn’t working properly – it’s like a hosepipe – but Tarub hasn’t called anyone out to look at it yet.

She’s run out of conditioner for her hair and finding something to wear that doesn’t have a button missing, a stain on the front or a tear is a challenge. Finally, she puts her shoes on and she notices that the heels are wearing down.

Every tiny thing that isn’t working well in Tarub’s life – from burnt-out light bulbs to holes in her tights – has an effect on her and will sap some of her energy. Before she has even stepped out of the door, she’s feeling drained, and that’s before she gets to the office, where she’s an administrator.

 There’s another long list of issues there – a filing tray that collapses when it’s holding more than three files, a computer mouse that sticks, a colleague who sniffs all day long and a boss who stands over her shoulder as she types and corrects her spellings before she’s even had a chance to check her work.

Annoyances add up

Life coach Talane Miedaner says we tolerate between 60 and 100 things in our everyday lives, and they range from our partner’s bad breath and a friend who calls us after 9pm, to 
a crammed inbox and pollution.

We may put up with an unsightly mole on our chin, a colleague’s bad body odour, a glove compartment that won’t stay shut in our car, 
or a huge pile of old paperwork that needs to 
be filed away. These annoyances may seem trivial, like Tarub’s, but they sap our energy, wear us down and increase our stress levels every time we are aware of them.

“These petty things are like barnacles on a ship,” says Talane, author of Coach Yourself to Success. “Barnacles look tiny in comparison to 
an ocean liner, but to make the liner efficient, it’s best to get rid of them. Tolerations are like that. We disconnect from them because they are so little, but they cost us more in terms of energy and fuel in the long run.

“The bigger your goals, the more critical it is to get rid of these little tolerations,” she says. “People don’t understand the connection between petty tolerations and big life goals, 
but if you free up the energy you’d waste on 
a missing button, a roller blind that doesn’t work and scuffed shoes, you’ll have far more energy to devote to getting your boss’s job or scaling Mount Everest.”

Talane recommends we start by making a list of our tolerations. It’s important to be specific, she says. If your colleague annoys you, state it’s the constant yawning or tooth-grinding; or if your partner is messy, write down that it’s the way they leave the kitchen full of crumbs attracting pests that is annoying. Write the list as a stream of consciousness and sort it out into different categories – yourself, work, home, children, friends – later.

Next comes the hard work. Set aside a convenient time slot to go through your list and address the annoyances on it, and find a friend to do the same. Report back to each other – or meet up – at the end of each session.

“You need to work through your list,” says Talane. “Start with the easiest. If you have a button missing, sew it on. If you can’t sew, take your garment to a seamstress. Replace your old light bulbs. Just tackling some of your tolerations will give you a burst of energy and create momentum. It’s a concept of physics that a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

“It may be that by eliminating one toleration, about 20 others automatically go too. Some can be very serious and affect your relationships.

“If you have a guest who has outstayed their welcome and you’re tolerating them eating your food, bringing their friends back, playing music loud late at night and leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor, just asking them to leave will save you a lot of petty tolerations,’’ she says.

This time it’s personal

The changes can also be incorporated into your personal life. “It may be that you’re tolerating things in your marriage and need to see a relationship counsellor, or perhaps you need to stop seeing your psychiatrist because you feel you’re not getting anywhere,” says Talane.

Dominic Knight, a clinical hypnotherapist who has his own practice on Harley Street, London, agrees. “When your life is on course 
or you are doing this work to improve your life, you will feel better,” he says.

“Seratonin, a feel-good hormone, is released with every act of accomplishment. You will also form a new habit of getting little things sorted immediately, which will give you a better quality of life,” he adds.

But what about the things we have no control over? How do we tackle our neighbour’s unruly children or the noisy traffic outside our home keeping us awake at night?

When she was living in New York City, Talane had two annoyances – homelessness and dirty streets – that were seemingly out of her control. But she managed to find a solution.

“I asked a homeless guy to pick up the rubbish on my block and in exchange I asked everyone who lived there to give him $1 [Dh4] 
a week,” she says.

“I made a poster and handed it round and bought him a broom and some equipment. 
This guy started doing the next street too and soon he wasn’t homeless. The project was taken up in other areas and the employees got uniforms – all because I once wrote down that I was tolerating the messy streets and homelessness in New York City.”

Often just writing down the tolerations is enough to give you a boost to properly address the problems.

“By writing them down, you’re moving them to a new level and miraculous solutions appear from nowhere,” says Talane.

By putting an end to tolerations you will be boosting your self-esteem, says Suzy Greaves, author of Making the Big Leap.

“When you put up with them, you’re giving yourself the clear message that you’re not coping, you can’t survive and you are inferior, but when you start tackling the little things, you show everyone that you’re no longer accepting second best,” says Suzy.

“Working through your list of tolerations brings clarity and a sense of self-worth and 
it lays out your boundaries.

“It’s a line in the sand. If you leave them to fester they will become toxic, but when you are clear about how you want to be treated, people will normally respect that.”


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