Gunk of Low-Energy Living: tolerations

Did you know there are 8 different types of tolerations?

Oh wait—are you saying, “What the heck is a toleration?”

Well, a toleration is just a semi-fancy way of referring to things you’re reluctantly putting up with. You could also call them energy vampires, the gunk of life, or holes in your personal success cup.

Whatever you call them…

Why should you care that there are 8 different kinds of these energy drains?

Because when you understand the different types of tolerations, you can start to see where your particular points of friction and energy drain are coming from.

And when you see that many of your tolerations are of the same type, it can help you address that particular aspect of your life.

Sounds good, right?

So let’s look at the eight kinds of tolerations.

  • aka: things you’re reluctantly putting up
  • aka: things causing friction, frustration, and overwhelm in your life

Toleration #1: Compass

The first type is what I call a compass toleration. These tolerations result when you’re unclear about your direction or are out of alignment with your values and priorities.

If you struggle with direction, vision, or purpose, tolerations are bound to appear. Likewise, tolerations are a byproduct when you’re not fully engaged in some part of your life or not living up to your potential.

Knowing where you’re going, what you want, and what’s important to you can keep these tolerations at bay.

This type of toleration might include:

  • being in a career that’s no longer a good fit
  • wanting to be more involved in your community
  • having a poorly understood sense of purpose
  • losing touch with your creativity
  • not really having dreams for your life anymore.

NEXT STEP: Look at your compass. What is it telling you in terms of your direction, values, priorities, and alignment?

Read more: Your life purpose: 43 questions you need to ask yourself

Toleration #2: Upgrade

The second type of toleration is when you need to upgrade your skills or knowledge. This is about what you know and what you know how to do.

For instance, some of your tolerations may be related to time management, but you simply don’t possess the skills you need to be effective in this area. Or perhaps you have tolerations related to not understanding the software on your computer or your financial investments.

In these cases you need to acquire knowledge to eliminate the toleration.

In addition to upgrading skills or knowledge, you might need to acquire some type of resource. Let’s say you’re having trouble finding a reliable babysitter, which has created a whole host of tolerations. So you need a resource—a reliable babysitter.

NEXT STEP: Upgrade your skills. What do you need to learn and learn how to do? What resources do you need?

Read more: Maybe it’s not a lack of willpower…but a missing skill

Toleration #3: Environment

The third type of toleration is about what’s going on around you—your surroundings, conditions, systems, processes, equipment, etc. Even a cursory scan of your environment will yield tolerations.

This category is about the drab gray cubicle you work in, the pile of unfiled paperwork on your desk, the chip in your car windshield, or mold in the grout. It’s about not living where you want to live, your computer that requires frequent rebooting, and tracking appointments on multiple calendars.

Your environment—in the broadest sense—is not neutral.  It’s either giving you energy or draining your energy. When you optimize your environment, you eliminate tolerations.

NEXT STEP: Optimize your environment. What needs to change for your environment to be a source of energy that allows you to be your best?

Read more: The truth behind why you’re so stressed out

Toleration #4: Psychology

The fourth type of toleration is about what’s going on in your head—your thoughts. This includes limiting beliefs, false assumptions, powerlessness, negativity, and interpreting facts in ways that don’t serve you.

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

When it comes to this type of toleration, it’s all about mastering your psychology. Feelings follow thoughts, which means if you don’t like how a particular feeling feels, you need to think a different thought.

When you master what goes on in your head, thought and feeling-related tolerations simply disappear.

NEXT STEP: Master your psychology. What new ways of thinking will help you become toleration free?

Read more: Do these thoughts make you feel bad?

Toleration #5: Behavior

The fifth type of toleration is about your actions and inactions. This is about your personal standards, the boundaries you set and protect, what you say yes to, your habits and routines, the crucial conversations you have—or don’t.

Behavior-based tolerations might include:

  • working too many hours
  • over promising at work
  • getting too little sleep
  • procrastinating
  • being a poor listener
  • mindless eating
  • checking email too often
  • being disorganized
  • always running late
  • never asking for help
  • losing touch with old friends

When you accept full responsibility for your behavior, you can start acting in ways that eliminate existing tolerations and avoid future ones.

NEXT STEP: Master your behavior. What new ways of behaving will help you become free of tolerations?

Read more: Bad behavior: When you get in your own way

Toleration #6: Body

The sixth type of toleration is about how you look and feel in your body. Tolerations are very common when it comes to health, wellness, and appearance.

Body-related tolerations might include:

  • feeling frumpy in your clothes
  • a daily energy slump in the afternoon
  • having to take medication
  • being addicted to sugar
  • not keeping nails groomed
  • poor posture
  • being overweight
  • outdated, aging makeup

NEXT STEP: Optimize YOU. What needs to change about how you take care of—and think about—your physical being?

Read more: Are you feeling frumpy in your clothes?

Toleration #7: Others

The seventh type of toleration is about the actions and attitudes of others.

This category of tolerations might include:

  • a spouse who overspends
  • clients who cancel last minute
  • friends who gossip
  • a co-worker who talks over you
  • moody teenage children
  • a hair stylist who doesn’t listen to what you want
  • your boss asking for things last minute

Unfortunately, a lot of energy is spent trying to control and fix other people, which is a significant source of friction and a pointless energy drain.

Addressing tolerations is not about “fixing” or controlling other people. While you may have influence, you do not control others.

NEXT STEP: Stop trying to control others.  Who do you need to stop trying to fix or control?

Read more: Mind your own business and have more energy

Toleration #8: The World

The eighth type of toleration is all about external facts, factors and forces. This category is about the world at large, which you don’t control.

This type of toleration might include:

  • unreliable public transportation
  • corporate red tape
  • high cost of childcare
  • snowy winters
  • being required to travel frequently for work
  • the state of political discourse
  • airlines charging for checked baggage
  • high property taxes

While you may have influence, you do not control the external world. Disappointing, right?

NEXT STEP: Stop trying to control the world. What do you need to stop trying to control?

Read more: It’s a great big beautiful world, but…


Tolerations are self-imposed obstacles. Which means you have a choice. Are you ready to stop leaking energy and spending your life in friction?