How Being Tolerant Can Ruin Your Health - Retirement Net by Mary J. Yerkes

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How Being Tolerant Can Ruin Your Health

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Eliminate these four common energy drainers from your life

Posted June 8, 2011

Life coaches agree that people sap their energy and increase their stress by putting up with a multitude of things that bug them, what life coaches call “tolerations.” And for the chronically ill, lingering stress can translate into increased pain. Enhance your quality of life by identifying—and then eliminating—those things that deplete your energy and dampen your spirit.

Here are four common tolerations, along with practical suggestions for addressing them or eliminating them from your life:

Health Tolerations

If you live with chronic illness, you probably realize there are some things you just can’t control. But what about the things you can? Why add to your distress by eating too much junk food, not taking your prescribed medication, or failing to do your exercises, designed to increase your range of motion or reduce your pain?

Take a few minutes and write down your health goals. Just make sure they’re realistic. Don’t set a goal of jogging three miles a day when you struggle to walk to the curb each day to pick up the day’s mail. When making your list, make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. A goal of eating healthier this year is too vague, but eating five serving of vegetables a day is SMART.

Environmental Tolerations

It’s hard to keep on top of housework and home repairs when you’re in constant pain and struggling to just make it through the day. But, let’s be honest. If you feel well enough to sit at your desk and work, couldn’t you take a few extra minutes to clear that pile of papers from your desk so you could actually see your computer screen?

But what about bigger projects around the house that you can’t do yourself?

If finances are tight and you can’t afford to hire someone to tackle larger projects, barter your services instead. For example, if you’re skilled at graphic design, offer to create a brochure for your neighbor’s new business in exchange for shoveling the snow off your walk.

You get the idea.

People Tolerations

Face it. Some people are just toxic. They consistently say hurtful things like, “But you look so good!” or “You need to take your mind of your sickness. Get out of the house; it will do you good.” They chide you for canceling at the last minute and raise their eyebrows when you say you’re having a bad day.

You don’t need relationships like this. Don’t tolerate them. Honor your limits and draw firm boundaries. If people don’t understand or consistently try to manipulate you into doing something you’re not comfortable with, find some other friends.

It’s a little more difficult if you’re dealing with toxic family members. To maintain your sanity and preserve your health, learn to maintain appropriate boundaries. To better understand how to set healthy boundaries, I recommend reading, Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Spiritual Tolerations

Are there areas in your spiritual life you need to address? Do you struggle with unforgiveness or harbor resentment or bitterness toward your spouse or children for failing to understand your pain, help with the housework, or give you the emotional support you need?

Nothing will rob your joy or sap your strength more quickly than unforgiveness. Author Ann Lamott points out, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Harboring bitterness and resentment can suck the life out of you, too.

Deal with destructive emotions that rob you of you peace of mind and move on.

By reducing or eliminating the people, places, and pursuits that drain you, you’ll gain energy for the things that matter most.

Go ahead. Try it. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Mary Yerkes is an author, speaker, and chronic illness coach who fosters spiritual and personal transformation in people's lives, especially those living with chronic pain and disease. Like many of her clients, she lives with multiple chronic illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis. She is the Chronic Illness Expert for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. Visit Mary online at


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