Gunk of Low-Energy Living: toleration

  • Ellen hurt my feeling when she turned down my invitation.
  • I’m worried whether I’ll get the promotion at work.
  • My presentation needs to be absolutely perfect.
  • I’m so confused and really don’t know what to do.
  • I want to start my own business, but am afraid of failing.
  • Sue didn’t seem very pleased with my gift.

Are these just harmless, run-of-the-mill thoughts?

Well, they’re certainly common enough. In fact, you’ve probably found yourself thinking some variation of at least one of them.

But do you know what these thoughts all have in common—that make them not so harmless?

These thoughts feel bad

Thinking them doesn’t feel good. In fact, these thoughts feel kind of bad.

…hurt feelings …worry …perfectionism …confusion …failure …unmet expectations

These thoughts don’t feel so great because each is a thinking-related toleration.

There are 8 types of tolerations—things you’re reluctantly putting up with that create friction and drain energy.

Psychology-related tolerations are about what’s going on in your head—your thoughts. Limiting beliefs, false assumptions, and interpreting facts in ways that don’t serve you are classic examples of psychology-related tolerations.

I’m willing to bet there’s friction in your life right now because of thoughts in your head.

Psychology-related tolerations

Tolerations related to your psychology might include:

  • taking things personally
  • worrying
  • believing things need to be perfect
  • not trusting your instincts
  • fear of failure holding you back
  • being disappointed when your expectations aren’t met

Hurt feelings

When your feelings are hurt because of a declined invitation, that’s a psychology-related toleration.

For your feelings to be hurt, you’re making the “no” mean something, such as Ellen doesn’t value our friendship.

Now, imagine Ellen saying no to the same invitation. But this time your thought is: I’ll go to the Zentangle workshop on my own, which will give me a chance to meet some new people. This thought makes you feel empowered instead of hurt.

It’s the same exact “no” to your invitation. But the two thoughts feel entirely different. Hurt versus empowered. Feels bad versus feels good.


When you’re worried about not getting the promotion at work, that’s a psychology-related toleration. Worrying doesn’t feel good, and it’s a thought pattern that doesn’t change the outcome one way or the other.


When perfection is the only acceptable standard for your upcoming presentation, that’s a psychology-related toleration. Does perfectionism feel good? No, it’s a ton of pressure bearing down, cutting you off from joy and creativity.


When you indulge in confusion and don’t trust your instincts and intuition, that’s a psychology-related toleration. If you say I don’t know and I’m so confused enough times, you actually cut yourself off from the part of you that does know.

Fear of failure

When you let fear of failure keep you from trying new things and expanding your comfort zone, that’s a psychology-related toleration. The story you’re telling (aka: the thoughts you’re thinking) about what failure means is not serving you.

Unmet expectations

When people don’t live up to your expectations and you feel disappointed, that’s a psychology-related toleration. Having expectations about how other people should behave might feel good if everyone always did exactly what you wanted. But since that’s not the case, friction and frustration are inevitable.

Feelings follow thoughts

When it comes to psychology-related tolerations, it’s all about mastering your thinking.

Feelings follow thoughts, which means if you don’t like how a particular feeling feels, you need to think a different thought.

Start asking: Does this thought feel good?

  • If yes, keep thinking it.
  • If no, what thought would feel better?

The story of unreturned phone calls

Here’s an example: A client doesn’t return several of your phone calls. You think: They didn’t seem happy during the last account review. I’ll bet they’re taking their business to our competitor. Of course, this thought leaves you feeling worried and anxious. You make the unreturned phone calls mean the account is in jeopardy.

You return to this disempowering thought-feeling combo throughout the day, adding additional worry along the way: What will losing this account mean for my bonus? Will we still be able to go on vacation this year if I lose my biggest client?

Same scenario: A client fails to return your calls. Instead of thinking the sky is falling, you choose to believe they’re simply busy or out of the office. Unconcerned and self-assured, you go on with a very productive day. In fact, you’re feeling so resourceful and creative that you land a new account.

Manage your mind

If you don’t manage your mind, your thinking can be a significant source of tolerations.

Choose to think thoughts that feel good. Be deliberate about the story you want to tell.

Are you ready to master your psychology? What new, good-feeling thoughts will you think?