This week marks the spring equinox, which is the time of year that brings us out of winter and officially starts the season of spring. If you are someone like me, who lives in a very cold and wintery climate, this calls for a bit of celebration. There’s now hope that scarfs, boots, and winter jackets are a thing of the past.
To me, spring has always been a season that makes me think about fresh beginnings, new opportunities for growth, and more broadly speaking, a renewed energy for life. As we literally shed our layers of jackets and sweaters, it also is a great time to think about shedding anything else that is unnecessarily weighing us down.
In other words, what are we tolerating in our life that we don’t need to? What are we doing that no longer is serving a purpose to us? What is stealing away precious amounts of our time and energy? Is it a variety of tasks that have lost their relevance, a relationship that no longer is healthy, or maybe it’s something within ourselves that we are a bit overdue with accepting or resolving? Whatever it is, spring can be the perfect time for this sort of “evaluation.”
Sometimes the most challenging part of this exercise is figuring out what it is that we are tolerating. Oftentimes we have become so accustomed to tolerating things, that they seamlessly blend into our lives. We become blind to them and can no long easily separate them out.
A short brainstorming session, creating a list of tolerations, can be a great starting point. Oftentimes, the first few items for this list are quite easy to identify. Then, if you find you are struggling to add to your list, oftentimes it’s easiest to think of the main buckets in your life. For example, I think about what I am tolerating within my relationships, my household, my work, and sometimes even my symptoms. When it comes to my symptoms, sometimes I find I’ve grown so accustomed to a symptom that I forget to explore solutions to them. Seems silly, but it’s quite easy to do. Especially when you have so many symptoms. Lastly, if you are still finding yourself stuck, ask your friends or caregiver what they think your main tolerations are. Oftentimes we can become blind to them while those on the “outside” can identify them in just seconds. Maybe they’ve even been dying to help us but have been afraid to say something. This outside, objective perspective can be just what we need to boost our list.
So we have our list, now what? Well, here comes the fun and bit creative part. Systematically eliminating them. This is such a freeing experience that you may wonder why you haven’t done it before. The time and energy you save as you drop each toleration off your list feels wonderful. Sometimes it can be as simple as just stopping doing a task, other times it may involve a challenging conversation or finding a workaround. While there may be a bit of work to this initially, it is generally well worth the effort in the long run.
Eliminating these tolerations is an incredibly freeing exercise. For those of us with little energy, removing anything from our lives that is not necessary and is draining our energy can be monumental. As you find yourself making progress with your list, next comes the final, even more fun, step. Freeing up all this time and energy can give us the opportunity to explore things that better serve us and it also allows us extra time for the self-care we need and so richly deserve.
Often, I find this is the time of year that I dedicate that time-savings to some of my favorite things – reading more books, an extra gentle yoga session per week, meditation, counted cross-stitch projects… Whatever it is that I felt like I had no time to do before but find fun and want to do or do more of – it’s now on my new “fun” list!
I also use this extra time to do more of what I should be doing all along – self-care. When we are crunched for time, it seems like self-care is often the first thing we drop off our plates, when in reality these are the times that we need it the most. By freeing ourselves from what we are simply tolerating in life, what no longer serves a healthy purpose for us, we are providing ourselves with less opportunities to drop self-care from our day. This may sound like a simple add-on, but allowing yourself the self-care and even being able to proceed through your day at a better pace can make a great difference for how you feel at the end of the day.
So, as we spring forward, I encourage you to try this exercise with me. Since I’ve become a coach, I’ve worked through this exercise myself every year and with all my clients. We’ve found it to be relatively easy to do and incredibly freeing. It’s almost like having a 10-pound weight suddenly lifted off of you while at the same time creating space for new and exciting things to come into your life.
Who doesn’t want or need that?