Do you know the TV show Hoarders? I’ve watched a few episodes with curiosity and fascination. How do these people live like that? How do they live a life that is completely restricted and defined by these piles and stacks and rooms full of things that don’t serve them? Don’t they know how unhealthy it is?
They weren’t just dropped into that situation over night. It happened gradually, bit by bit, as they accumulated stuff. More and more stuff, that formed mountains and their lives become defined by these narrow little paths that they can navigate. AND THEY GOT USED TO IT! They tolerated and adapted.
Humans are phenomenal at adapting, which can be great – sometimes. But do we want to adapt to things that confine and restrict us? Do we want to adapt to things that aren’t healthy? (I am showing such restraint by not going off topic and following that path, just saying!)
Let’s go back to the tolerating bit. Tolerating is really the same as putting up with something that you don’t like, don’t want, don’t need, doesn’t serve you, etc. When I tolerate something, I already have decided that I’m not going to try to make a change.
Tolerate = resignation -> give up = quit
A long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I had piles of negative thoughts and beliefs about myself. I had mounds of thoughts that just sat there in the corner of my mind. I never examined them. I tried to cover them up with other things so that I wouldn’t really see them. Not going there, I would tell myself.
Ignoring them, walking around them, tolerating their very existence did not help me, and in fact did lead to some significant harm. And it certainly made my path in life pretty damned narrow – the walls were truly closing in. And yeah, my life was messy.
The way out for me was to stop tolerating the bullshit that I believed about myself, which meant that I had to stop being resigned, to un-quit, and to get to work. It was pretty much all thought work, too. I had to honestly look at those thoughts and beliefs that I had been tolerating, the things I just stepped around every time I got close. I had to examine where they came from, so I could understand if they were even mine.
It was kind of like having Marie Kondo come to my brain and do a hoarder intervention – or a 5S for any Lean fans. Take out each thought. Is it mine? Does it fit? Does it need a little adjustment or repair? Does it bring me joy? Do I need it? Does it block the path or clear it? Does it help me be/see/become a higher version of myself?
If yes, bring it back with acceptance and love (so NOT toleration!)
If no, into the giant firepit it goes. Burn it, don’t bury it. (And this is probably the one time I wouldn’t even consider recycling!)
Cleaning up the crap in my brain just naturally led to cleaning up the mess in my life. Funny how that works!
Once the crap is gone, it does take a bit of regular maintenance to make sure more doesn’t sneak back in. Mental tidying. Cranial housekeeping. Belief hygiene.
I do come across little piles of dirty thought laundry that I periodically need to handle. I’m sure I always will. I usually find them now because of some situation I am tolerating. Like an ache or pain that I put up with because I’m afraid of what it couldmean (about me), so I unconsciously start limiting my activities and narrowing my path.
So here’s a challenge for you: find one thing that you are tolerating. Take it out and look at how it is impacting you. Is it narrowing your path? If so, stop tolerating and CHOOSE what to do. If you’re willing, please share in the comments so that others can have more examples and we can learn from each other. Thank you!
And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!