We Get What We Tolerate …

We get what we tolerate

There have been countless times in my life where I have hit the end of the line.  There are times when I know in my heart that enough is enough. I’ve been pushed to the limit.  And, I’m solid and clear that I am simply not going to deal with or put up with ‘it’ (whatever it is) anymore.

And then … 40 minutes, 40 hours, 40 months, 40 years later … there I am … complaining about the same dang thing. And I find myself questioning that if I was really so “done” with it then …. how come I am still dealing with ‘it’ now?  I’m guessing some of you can also relate.

Or sometimes the end of the line looks something like this.  We catch our selves declaring, with complete exasperation:

“Why does this always happen to me?”
“I just can’t handle this any more!”
“This has to S T O P!”
“Oh no … NOT again!”

Well … there is a reason for the persistence of that which we say we don’t want anymore.  In the words of the infamous life coach, Tony Robbins:

“We get what we tolerate.” 

And so … if we are still enduring whatever it is that we were so ‘done’ with … whether it be personally, professionally, culturally, globally … it means we have continued to tolerate ‘it’ in some way … for some reason.

I learned in my life coaching training with The Ford Institute that we tolerate the unacceptable because despite our aversion to ‘it’ we are actually more deeply committed to something else.  For example:

  • We are deeply committed to losing weight, but we are more committed to snacking because it helps soothe the pain in our hearts.
  • We fail to set up firm boundaries with someone … because we are more committed to being ‘nice’.
  • We tolerate the challenges of staying with an addicted partner because we can’t bear to be perceived as the kind of person who abandons someone who is struggling?
  • We tell our kids it’s time to turn off their iPod … and then we let them ignore us because we are too tired to muster up the energy we’d need to argue them into submission.
  • We want to give up on something … but we persist because we rather not feel like a “failure”.
  • We give and give and give until we are empty because we don’t want anyone to call us “selfish”.
  • We tell ourselves that if the boss says ‘that’ one more time, we’re quitting … but we never do because we really need the money.
  • We desperately need to ask for help … but don’t want people to think we are weak, stupid or incapable.
  • We don’t stand up for ourselves because we feel so much compassion for the other person … we know they are just really stressed and didn’t mean to hurt us … again.

I could go on and on with the list of examples, but you get the picture. We say we want one thing, but in reality, as my mentor Debbie Ford explained … we have ‘underlying commitments’ that keep us stuck in unfavorable patterns.  And so, if we really want to be ‘done’ with ‘it’ … we have to be willing to uncover the subconscious pay off and risk losing whatever it is we’ve been getting from putting up with ‘it’.

And this is where we need a whole schwack of brave … and … a whole ton of determination.  This is where we must push ourselves beyond the ‘toleration’ and must challenge our deeper needs, fears and foibles.  This is where we need to take a really good look at what has been keeping us stuck.  And, this is where it can help to have a counsellor, a therapist, a life coach or a support group to help us figure our way through it all  … because … it is really hard to see the picture when you are inside the frame.  But, I have also learned that it can be one of the most fascinating journeys of your life!

Source Unknown

What if things could actually change? What if you really could be ‘done’ with whatever it is that is keeping you stuck? What if you didn’t have to keep tolerate ‘it’ anymore?

What if … for 2018 … as a gift to ourselves … we committed to surrendering one of the things we have been tolerating, Karen











Breakdown or breakthrough … ?


One of the most sacred but entirely daunting and deeply humbling parts of becoming a ‘Certified Integrative Coach’ is that you MUST do all the work yourself … long before you ever get to lead a client through any kind of process.  I learned really early on that Debbie Ford’s incomparable internal processes were not for the faint of heart.  They are designed to unconceal inner truths that most of us have consciously and/or subconsciously tried to avoid, justify, resist and/or deny. Sometimes in the midst of it all, it feels more like you are on the cusp of a breakdown rather than a breakthrough … BUT …

Over the past dozen years, I have learned to ‘trust the process.’  I have never yet failed to find the most bright, brilliant and beautiful gifts when I was courageous enough to face the most painful parts of my own past experience.  Which doesn’t mean it’s pretty.  No, definitely not pretty.  And …  you learn that the wisdom in your wounds, the blessings in your challenges and the light in the dark  are usually tucked somewhere within the ‘ugly cry’ (you know – that shoulder heaving, snot dribbling, swollen-eyed, red-faced kind of sobbing that makes it hard to breathe) … BUT …

It is hard to describe the sublime freedom, joy, and/or bliss of redefining the parts of your life you had previously been resenting, rejecting and blaming for your heartaches. Crazy but true … ask anyone who has attended a Shadow Process or been coached through this impeccable body of work. They have incredible stories to share.  Sorry, I’ve digressed … this was not meant to be a sales pitch for integrative coaching.  My intention was to offer you some honest, authentic  ‘truth-telling’ … BUT …

Some of the most profound shifting of my life emerged when I became part of Debbie Ford’s study group as she was writing her book Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence . Debbie has redefined courage as a quality of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ … not something that we ‘do’… but something that we ‘are’.  Huh?

I had been equating courage to a kind of brave and intimidating force … and relating it to qualities like strong and invincible  You know, the ‘roar’ of the lion … the bold retort … the willingness to stand up and defend yourself or your cause (at all cost). I thought it was what you mustered up when you couldn’t take it anymore (whatever ‘it’ is in a given moment).  Yep … I could see where I could ‘do’ courage like that … BUT …

As I journalled about how to ‘be’ courage, I could feel a large lump forming in my throat.  The unflattering truth that leaked out of my soul through the ink on the page was this:

“I don’t know how to ‘be’ anything … I only ‘do’ life. (Ouch).

Well … that’s not entirely true … I AM STRONG. I do know how to BE strong. (In truth, it’s become my comfort zone.)

But if being strong is doing courage … then what is being courage? (Totally baffled.)

No other thoughts or words came to me, but in my mind’s eye I got the most poignant, remarkable image of a huge tree (trunk at least 5 feet in diameter) … solid, unshakeable, and impenetrable. I could feel it was the visual representation of my strength.  And then … I could see some wee little arms struggling to reach out of two (almost imperceptible) holes in the massive trunk of that tree.  And … I knew it was me. More tears … big tears. It was heartbreaking to notice that she couldn’t reach anyone … and … very few passers-by noticed her.  She was hard to see  because she was pretty much concealed by the enormity of the tree trunk that protected her but also eclipsed her from view.

Then the tree opened (kind of like “open sesame”in fairy tales) and out came this little waif … a little strawberry blonde – so innocent, so tender, so trusting. She was about 2.5 feet high … such a fragile, timid, vulnerable little thing that she could have been knocked down by a feather . Her skin is so thin … so translucent … you could see clear through her and right into her heart. She was the essence of pure love …

It was in this poignant moment that the ugly cry started.  The tears were blurring my vision and flowing like rivers as they poured off my chin … BUT …

I got it.  THIS IS COURAGE!  To allow yourself toBE’ completely exposed, unguarded, unprotected and undefended takes a very brave spirit.  I could feel in my heart, as Debbie contends, that ‘courage’ truly is  ” to be and own all of who you are … without apology, without excuses and without masks to cover the truth of who you are.”

‘Being’ courage, therefore, is reflected in my willingness to really be seen … to come out from behind the tree!  To boldly face the fear being of mocked,  ridiculed, dismissed or ‘less-than’ and to stand in the energy of heart … to show my pain, my heartache, my sadness rather than concealing it behind my impenetrable veneer of ‘strength’. It seemed so incredibly clear in that moment. .  I have clearly used my strength to aptly avert anything that might invite me to be really, truly vulnerable.  I could also see that I had been motivated to do so because  life hurts. And, hurt people, hurt people!  Vulnerability did not feel safe.  At all. No. Not one bit … BUT …

You have to decide who is worth suffering for and/or with … and then …  let your heart show.  Because … here is the ‘truth’ that I uncovered.  It is ‘safe’ being tucked into the trunk of the tree, but it is incredibly lonely … and … painfully isolating.  In any given moment, I can  protect or I can connect … but not both.  With that awareness, Brene Brown’s insights about vulnerability being the quality that connects us were  speaking to me at a much deeper level … at least 10 layers deeper.    The dots were coming closer together around why I have often felt very alone in the world.  I have been unwittingly co-creating my own sense of isolation by choosing to be strong instead of vulnerable.  Argh.

I could see that the true challenge would be to actually show up differently … to actually let my waif-like warrior be ‘seen’ beyond my strength.  So, here I am …  blogging about it … attempting to drop my guard with this transparency.  It feels more like I’m destined for a breakdown than a breakthrough … BUT …

This is me ‘being’ courage.

It’s going to take some practice … Karen



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