Wise Words: Weeding the Garden

Eliminating Tolerations for a Lush Life

Over the years, we learn to put up with, accept and settle for less, and take on what’s not really ours. We can become dragged down by our behavior and the behavior of others and by situations that are born out of our habits and patterns. Our needs go unmet. Our boundaries get crossed. We face incompletions, frustrations and reoccurring problems.

Think of it like weeds in your garden. If left alone, the weeds take over, rob the rich nutrients from the soil, choke off the healthiest of plants and block the life-giving sun. Just like a garden overrun with weeds, what you’re tolerating has the potential to strain your physical, mental and emotional well being – leeching your energy, draining your resources, impeding your growth. These tolerations can keep you stuck and limit your life in ways that you may be unaware.

This exercise is designed to bring awareness to such things. It’s time to weed the garden! I won’t promise any results, but if you’re like me, you will gain more clarity about you and your life, feel less stress, quiet more of your mental chatter, discover  more creative solutions and resolutions, and generally feel a greater sense of ease and flow in life.

I invite you to open to the new potentials that can be revealed here. Cultivate courage. Find the discipline. Be bold. And then approach this exercise with playfulness and curiosity. Remember to leave the judgment out of it. Take a look with gentle eyes and a compassionate heart. Compassion for you.

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.
– William Ellory Channin


Make a list of your tolerations.
Write down everything you consider a toleration. Remember a toleration is something you’ve put up with, settled for, allowed to continue even though you are dissatisfied or frustrated. Don’t limit yourself. Be highly observant. Get it ALL down on paper.  Don’t worry about the solutions. They will come. Write down the obvious things first. Keep your list with you so you can jot things down as they come to you. It is not uncommon to have 200-300 items on your list.

Here’s a few things that were on my list when I did this exercise:

  • Unpack the boxes in the guest room (the ones I keep tripping on)
  • Repair the leaky faucet in my bathtub (that is annoying and frustrating me)
  • Find a way to resolve my frustration with my boss and be heard
  • Take the car in for maintenance so the light on the dash stops blinking
  • Find a more comfortable chair for the living room

Explore all aspects of life.
Areas of your life to examine include:

  • The space around you…home, yard, office, car, storage, etc.
  • Your relationships…family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, strangers, personal business associates – past and present, pets
  • Your job/career… how you feel about them, what you believe about them
  • Your stuff…clothing, furniture, books, knick knacks, keepsakes, items in storage, hobby items, etc.
  • Your body…how it feels, how it looks, how it gets you around, how you care for it, etc.
  • Your finances…how you feel about them, what you believe about them, how you manage them
  • Your habits, patterns, behavior
  • Your fears and beliefs
  • Things you’re NOT doing, but feel you should be.

Need some prompting?

Consider these questions to open up greater awareness.

  • What’s broken that needs fixing?
  • What no longer serves you?
  • What feels like it doesn’t fit anymore?
  • What do you really need?
  • What do you really want?
  • What occupies your thoughts?
  • What tends to cause stress in you?



Find the meaning
Explore and journal about the feelings and findings that came up for you during this process. Look for patterns in your list. Take a look at each item and explore your answers to these questions:

  • What is it “costing” me?  (i.e. – time, space, energy, relationships, integrity, true expression of self)
  • What does having this toleration “get” me? How does it serve me? How does it “juice me up”? Does it get me attention I desire, even if it’s negative attention?
  • What do I “get” if I let it go?
  • How will it feel to be free of it?
  • Is it a symptom or the source?
  • Will eliminating it be temporary or permanent?
  • Observe your willingness to give the item attention.

Make a Plan
There are many ways to approach the process of eliminating your tolerations. You may choose to set up a schedule, eliminating 1 or 2 a week, for example. Or maybe you want to set up a Toleration Table, a central location where you can put the items that need to be dealt with. Do what feels right for you.

Notice what changes for you. What happens to your energy level? To your mood or spirits? How do you feel about the way you’re handling this exercise? How do your relationships change? Just notice. NO JUDGEMENT. Journal about it if it suits you. Sometimes being able to look back and see your progress is helpful.



Pivotal Tolerations
A pivotal toleration is one that when released or resolved, clears several others at the same time. These are the ones that give you a big bang for your buck! For example, perhaps finding a better job solves boredom at work, dislike of co-workers which causes stress and long commute to work. What pivotal tolerations can you find on your list?

Explore the idea that these tolerations have been gifts in your life. See them as a way to become more aware of who you are and clear about what you want from your life. Is it possible that they are an impetus for taking some needed action now or in the future? Can you thank them for what they offered and then let them go? You may just be surprised by what happens in the wake of it.

Toleration vs. Condition of Life/Personality
After spending time with this process you may discover something that you miss, some things you’d let go of but now long for. Sometimes what you thought of as a toleration, a weed in your garden, a blight on your landscape, once pulled leaves a very obvious hole. Maybe it’s something unique about you that adds to the beauty instead of taking away from it. This exercise is not about perfection. So keep what’s yours, what’s authentically you. Pitch the rest.

And may your new landscape (life) be lush!


lush oregon garden

Images found on Pinterest
Image of the lush garden via The Oregonian