Gunk of Low-Energy Living: tolerations

Does this sound familiar?

You sort through the mail and find yet another promotional offer from one of your credit card companies. Or even worse, those dastardly cash advance checks. You know—the ones that try to tempt you into credit card debt while simultaneously making you fear unauthorized use if they get in the wrong hands.

Tempting me to spend

Well, that scenario played out in my life for months.

It seems Bank of America and Capital One had nothing better to spend money on than sending me promotional offers for balance transfers, low APRs, and cash advances. On a very regular basis.

They were quite invested in tempting me to spend. And I was equally invested in not heading down that particular path.

My reaction was to complain

My reaction was as familiar as the receipt of these “offers”.

I would complain about the waste of paper, grumble the offers were unsolicited, fear the potential for identity theft or fraud…and then I would sort out the non-personally identifiable parts for recycling and shred the rest.

I hate to admit how long this scenario played itself out. I was indignant about the waste and the unwelcome nature of the mailings, but repeated my part—complain, worry, recycle, shred—time and time again.

Familiar, fat envelopes

Then a few days or couple weeks later the mailbox would again yield those familiar, fat envelopes stuffed with blank checks and promises of a better life if I would just go into hock to buy a few things, remodel my house, or take a long vacation.

Sometimes I received offers from both credit cards in a single day, which made me wonder if the two companies were in competition for my would-be debt.

What was my role in all this?

But here’s the thing: for months (years?) it was “easier” for me to tolerate than get into action and put a stop to the mailings. Why was it easier to complain and be “acted upon” by Bank of America and Capital One than it was to take action?

Finally the day arrived when I saw clearly my own role.


The marketing efforts of the credit card companies may have been unsolicited on my part, but I was clearly failing to take responsibility for what I did have control over. So—in a moment of clarity—I dug out the two credit cards in question, called the toll-free numbers on the back, spent a few minutes on the phone with each one opting out—and took back a bit of control over my mailbox and what it yields.

My point reaches far beyond this specific example of unwanted mailings.

It’s about what we put up with in our lives (our tolerations) and how tempting it can be to hand over the reins and give up our control. All the while complaining!

My challenge to you: Give thought to whether there is a daily, weekly or monthly toleration that persistently drains your energy or irritates you. What would it take to eliminate that toleration once and for all and get some long-lasting relief?