The 4 reasons you started tolerating and what to do about it

 stop tolerating - set limits
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This could have been titled “how to learn to set limits because your health depends on it.”    Because we do teach people how to treat you, either by doing something or not doing something and whatever we end up tolerating  does have an impact on our health.  If you have been putting up with other people’s bad behaviour, this is the right place for you.

What you should not tolerate

When we say “ toxic relationships” a lot of what has been written is about romantic relationships and family relationships.  And those are the most important ones in our life because those people should be the ones who can be a soft shoulder to land on and they should be the safest.

However, any relationship can be hazardous to your health.  Bad bosses, insensitive co-workers, bossy friends, intrusive neighbours and all the other takers that are in your environment can impact your health negatively, sometimes as bad as closer relationships, if you let them.

Examples of stuff you should not tolerate: someone who does not respect your “No” and tries to intimidate you by making you feel guilty, stupid, not intelligent, etc.  Someone who insults you, calls you fat, stupid, or worse.  Someone who talks behind your back.  Someone who tries to force you to do anything.  Someone who does not respect the agreement you had with them. Someone who criticizes you constantly.   Someone, a boss who abuses of your goodwill and expects you to work overtime, either without pay or habitually, when he-she knows you have family or other obligations.  Someone who yells at you – be it partner, boss, co-worker, friend or neighbour. A co-worker who does not pull his or her weight.  Someone who takes your possessions without permission – borrowing means to ask first.  Someone who uses jokes to belittle you and tells you you have no sense of humour.  I could go on and on.  Usually you can recognize you are about to tolerate because you don’t feel good about what is happening.  I did not mention physical abuse: slaps, blows, pushing, etc. because they are obvious.

Why we tolerate

If you are in an unhappy marriage, friendship or other relationship or in the job with a bad boss for a while,  it may have become the norm. It most likely became the norm because you avoided speaking up the first time something unpleasant was said or done, by your partner or the boss or the colleague.  And if you avoided speaking up at the beginning, it was 1) most likely because you did not want to rock the boat, or 2) you did not think it would happen again, or 3) you were afraid of their reaction or 4) you did not think you had the right to. You may have convinced yourself it was no big deal.  The psychological forms of abuse are harder to pinpoint simply because we can be manipulated into feeling we are too sensitive, we have no sense of humour, we are party poopers, etc.  The literature is clear that many in those unhealthy relationships do not realize there are in unhealthy relationships because they have low self-esteem and they blame themselves for their problems (and they often never saw what a healthy relationship was.)  If they were treated poorly as children, they simply believe that that’s life.

Many of us have been brought up to “be nice”.  Not that being nice is not nice.  It’s absolutely better than being rude or arrogant.  But the being nice we have been told to practice means to be tolerant (tolerate), to try to understand, to put our needs last and stop being so selfish, to not ask for what you need or want.   Unfortunately not speaking up and swallowing your unhappiness can be can be lethal to your health, both your physical and mental health(s).

Speaking up is also scary because we are afraid it will lead to people breaking off the relationship.  The more unhealthy your family of origin was, the more likely you are to tolerate in life, unless you became an abuser or a bully, in which case you would not by reading this article.  The more the relationship is important, the scarier it becomes to speak up.  And the less self-esteem and self-confidence we have, the more we become sitting ducks for those who like to take advantage.

How tolerating affects your health

How does a lack of setting boundaries impact your health? Let’s just look at one time when you were nervous about an interview, or the time you almost had a car accident, or the first misunderstanding with your sweetheart, or the time a loved one was very late and you were worried “sick”.  All these events have one thing in common: stress.  Whether it was the nervousness, the sadness or the worry, you most likely felt it in your body.  Sweat, digestive issues, palpitations, headache, difficulty sleeping, etc.

Now imagine that this kind of stress becomes chronic.  So chronic that you don’t even realize it anymore.  Yes you have headaches, trouble sleeping, digestion problems, but you can’t pinpoint it to one single event like in the above paragraph..

In a 2000 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who had moderate or severe marital strain had 2.9 times more chances to need heart surgery, to suffer heart attacks or to die of heart disease.  The same holds for unmarried women who lived with their life partner.  Dr Dean Ornish, a cardiologist who treats his patients with diet, also reports that a good marriage has a huge influence on the health of his patients and their recovery from heart disease.  “The diet can play a significant role,” he said. “But nothing is more powerful than love and intimacy.”   You can read more in his book Love and Survival.

From The American Psychosomatic Society we learn that more conflicts and disagreements put one at higher risk of elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, and elevated bad cholesterol.

The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in a 1993 issue links marital conflicts with disruptions of the immune system and the Journal of Physiology and Behaviour links marital distress to a worse recovery from breast cancer.

Analyzing data from nearly 5000 participants, with a follow up at 10 years, researchers have scientifically established what most people know intuitively. If your relationships are bad, your mood is likely to follow.  “Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression,” says psychiatrist Alan Teo, MD, of the University of Michigan. …  “The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease,” Teo says. “What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression.”


I would like to say that speaking up and setting boundaries will always work out, but I can’t because there will be times it won’t.  Not only it won’t but it can cause huge drama and break the relationship.  Although it can be upsetting when it happens, we must remember that if we want to live a healthy life, we also must let go or minimize the time we spend with less than healthy individuals.  Even if it does not work out well, I can vouch for the fact that every time you exercise your “setting limits”muscle, you will feel more confident and you will be proud of yourself for really taking care of yourself.  I know it did for me.

If you are dealing with mature people, there is a good chance that you can come to an understanding and mutual respect for your needs and the other person’s needs.  However, the more toxic or immature the person you are dealing with, the worse the chance of a peaceful resolution. If you are dealing with someone who is emotionally immature or worse, toxic, there are good chances they will turn your request to respect your needs as an attack and it will end up in a shouting match.   If you are dealing with someone who has been physically violent or you fear can be, do not attempt to reason with them.  For your sake, get outside help or if, as it happened to me in a bus a long time ago, being harassed and threatened by a male passenger, keep quiet and try to get away, fast.

How to set limits

Give yourself a break if you are terrified of setting limits after many months or even years of tolerating.  It’s a process and we have to learn and practice.  It’s also easier to practice when the stakes are not very high. Easier to say no to an acquaintance than to a friend, or a life partner.  Start small.  Learn to say “No”.  One of my favorite sentences is “it does not work for me”.  I also used that sentence to terminate a romantic relationship.

I you want to come to an understanding with someone who is usually stable and mature, do use the “I feel…. when you…. and I need-prefer-want…….  Can we talk about it.”  A good way to start the conversation is to express how much you value the relationship and that’s why you are coming to them to find a solution that will benefit both of you and make you feel closer.

If you have found this article useful, please share it with your friends and your network.  If you would like to work on becoming more assertive and would like to work with me, please use the form in the Contact Us to send me a message.


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Putting things in perspective or how to feel better in 10 minutes or less



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What is perspective.  The dictionnary says :a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

I don’t know if it’s the full moon on the 18th but I have had a couple of upsetting happenings in my personal life in the last few days which have totally derailed the happy-go-lucky me.  As I am taking it all in and trying to make sense of it all (maybe there’s a reason my website is makesenseoflife), I needed to put things in perspective and stop the internal turmoil to better face the situations(s).

Luckily I remembered one method I used to teach my clients in my previous careers – that is “put things in perspective”, or look at it from another angle, in this case, against a background of potentially much worse situations.

The way to do so is awfully simple.  It consists in Continue reading “Putting things in perspective or how to feel better in 10 minutes or less”

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Rock your Retirement

couple at the beach

We usually hear about retirement planning from the Financial industry. In fact we normally only hear about retirement from the Financial industry.

When we do hear about preparing for retirement, it is all about urging us to save and top our retirement savings fund, and that’s great.  However, great but not enough.  There is very little education around the other aspects of retirement except maybe if you have an employer who offers seminars around the non-money side of retirement.  Most of us end up in retirement not really prepared to know how to make the best of the 45- 50 or so extra hours every week.  Unfortunately many end up bored, isolated and even depressed at a time where life could be so much fun.

Here are some of the best steps I took to prepare for retirement.

A private retirement savings fund

You need a retirement savings fund. I wish I had taken that step way earlier, but when I divorced in my mid-thirties, I remembered my mother’s advice to save money and her working until she was past 70  I no longer had a husband to depend on financially in retirement and I quickly started a retirement fund which is so treasured today.  I also wish I had put more money in it but I now have enough to not worry about money.  I don’t (can’t) live an extravagant lifestyle but I am quite comfortable.

Fund an “Education Fund”for yourself

Continue reading “Rock your Retirement”

Save on your Grocery Bill With These 5 Tips

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I like saving money on what I buy.  So much that I have made mistakes in the past by stocking up on perishables and had to throw food away.  However, there are ways to really save money on food.  These next 5 tips are some of the ways I do.  Mark Cuban, billionnaire of the Shark Tank has been known to advise to stock on non perishables, even saying “use that space under the bed for the storage of your non perishables”.  If he, with his wealth can say that, I totally want to do it.  Might not make me a billionnaire but “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

Here are some food items I never buy at full price: chicken breast, or legs, or thighs, butter, peanut butter, ice cream, whipping cream, olive oil, toothpaste, mouthwash, canned tomatoes, canned salmon, canned tuna, ground beef, steak, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup and pasta.  And maybe a few more I just don’t remember right now.

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1. Know your prices and check the flyers

To save money, you need to know what the regular price was (is) at the same store and elsewhere.  That means you need to learn the regular price of most items you use regularly.  Without that information you can be misled into thinking you are getting a deal.  Some “discount” stores often advertise big specials.  Some are real, others not so much.  If you really want to lower your grocery bills, you also should become familiar with the usual prices of the specials.  For example, the peanut butter  I buy(brand) is regularly over $5. a kg.  It often comes on special at $4.00 a kg but the real pleasure of stocking up is when I get it at $3. a kg.  Flyers are online a day or two before the day the specials start.  With a list it’s easy to go through my 5-6 stores in about 30 minutes and take note (I used pen and paper) of what is which price where.

2. Often it’s worth driving around to take save money

Well, it depends.  My car does around 12-14 kms a liter.  A liter costs $1. right now.  If I am going to save around $10. or more then spending $2. on gas is worth it to me most of the time.  I recently saved $26. on one grocery trip that cost me $2. worth of gas.  Food tastes better when I get a good deal.  However, I don’t travel if there is a snow storm or if it’s a really busy week.  In those cases,  I’ll wait until next time.   There is always a next time.  Everything always comes back on special within a few weeks. And because I have a well-stocked pantry, I can wait.

3. Buy generic.

At least for some items.  I admit I have strong preferences for the brand of some items, ok, a few items: butter, peanut butter, toothpaste, yogourt, ice cream, tuna and probably a few others I just can’t remember right now.  As I mentioned above, I only those items when they are on special. For me saving money is not about feeling deprived.  If I was financially strapped, then it would be generic all the way.  But I am not and I love food.  Better eat less and well.

4. Shop every two weeks or even once every month

I have not yet mastered the shopping once a month – except I have so much non-perishables in my pantry that for those items I can shop once every 3 months or so – but for perishables, I have recently put myself on a schedule of shopping once every two weeks – for fruits, vegetables, ice cream, milk and meat or fish.  I have found that I spent much less than I normally do since I no longer stop by the store for one item and, you may relate, leave with a full shopping bag.  The less often you enter the grocery store, the more money you save.

5. Be adventurous

Try recipes that call for less known but cheaper ingredients.  A vegeterian chili can feed a crowd and has as much flavor as the one with meat.  The same goes for spaghetti sauce.  If you want the meat flavor, adding half pound of ground meat, or less, to either does the trick, and you can also add chick peas (ground) to the spaghetti sauce.  It thickens it and adds needed proteins.

Pearls of Wisdom

Make a budget and do your best to stick to it.  Use leftover vegetables at the end of the week to make soup.  Put leftovers in clear containers – it makes it a lot easier to remember what’s in the fridge.  Same for leftover meat.  If you think you may not have time to make that soup, freeze it all until the weekend when you have more time.  Look at the “reduced” items at the grocery store.  I have gotten perfectly good green beans and cherry tomatoes at 75% off.

If you have other tips, please let me know.  I love saving money at the grocery store and eat healthy.

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Your best anti-aging tool

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I just could not resist one more post on this subject and how essential it is to respect your need for it.  (And it probably won’t be the last one).

As I am working on this new blog, I find myself learning so much new stuff – mostly technology related, which for me is like learning a new language.  On Sunday I tried to work on the appearance of the blog and I was just getting nowhere.  To the point I was ready to call for help from my tech person.  I decided to sleep on it and contact her in the morning. Which I did when I got up – well, I wrote the email but decided to try one more time to solve the problem.  And I did.  My well rested brain was much more effective and it took me less than 5 minutes to figure it out.

Arianna Huffington in her bestselling book, Thrive, mentioned Continue reading “Your best anti-aging tool”

Prepare to change career at mid-life

Changing career at mid-life and beyond

retour à l'école - stock photo

Do you feel stuck in a job you hate?  Do you think you are too old to learn something new?  Are you afraid of leaving the security of a job, the prospect of loosing that retirement pension? Do you dream of changing career?  Do you secretly envy someone because they did it?

I did not think about changing career throughout my 20s or 30s because I thought it was impossible.  I did not have a Bachelor degree and never thought I could get one.  Much less a Master’s degree.  At 39,  I was a single parent, working in the government with good chances of promotion but I was not happy in my job.  I distinctly remember the day I realized I still had 25 years before retirement and how I could just not see myself doing this kind of work for another 25 years. It was a scary thought.

I was lucky during a course to meet a teacher who was doing the work I thought I would enjoy.  But then it required a Master’s degree and I thought it was out of my reach.  Then I met a fellow about my age who was doing a Master’s degree part time and I figured I was as intelligent as him and if he could do, so could I.  And I could

That year, when I was 39, I decided to risk it all.  I took an unpaid leave of absence (from my $15,000 a year safe job!!!), mortgaged my home and went to University full time for 2 years to complete a Bachelor degree I then added another year to start a Master’s program. (While I did not finish that M.A., I started another one part time, which I completed in about 5 years)

How did I pull it off, with 2 young kids and very little financial support?  Luckily, I was able to take a line of credit against the equity in my home.  For one semester I also worked part-time.  What really helped was that I was able to live very frugally during those years.  Money was spent on essentials: mortgage, food, clothes for the kids.  I did not buy one single item of clothing during those 3 years and what really saved me was that I did not own a car, lived close to downtown and loved walking.  My biggest extravagance was buying a bottle of wine every few months, and having a glass once in a while while cooking on the bbq.  The sacrifices were well worth it as I enjoy a great career as a psychotherapist for 20 years and never regretted my decision.


The biggest financial mistake I made then was to not investigate whether I could have been eligible for student loan or grants – while the line of credit was great, for me who was not very financially savvy, it cost me money.  Since I only had to pay the interest I did not see the need to pay the principal for a long while – today I know better and I would work hard to eliminate that debt as soon as possible, and I would definitely look at grants, bursaries or student loans.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I was now close to official retirement age and eyeing a 3rd career.  It became obvious that if I was going to start this 3rd career in a private business and did not want to work 7 days a week, I had to make some changes regarding paid employment.

I was working in social services where the rate of pay is historically poor.  I was also working with a coach as part of my coach training and I continually heard myself tell her “I did not have the time”.  Finally I made a big decision: to go from full time to a 4 day work week, with a corresponding 20% pay cut.  As scary as it was, this new schedule was fantastic and it gave me some breathing room and a chance to work on my business.

After a year or so of this new work arrangement, I had the chance!!! to further cut one day of work, and yes, another 20% pay cut.  At that point my coaching business was making up for the lost salary and I was also being careful in the way I spent money.

Finally, in 2008, due to health scares, a poor work environment and the fact that I had lost 3 colleagues to cancer, I chose early retirement.  That’s a 100% pay cut.  Fortunately my coaching business was making up part of my lost salary.  Having lived on 60% of my salary for a while, I had become quite good at not wasting money.

I remember the first few months – it was in the Fall – the pleasure of really enjoying my boss (myself), of sipping my coffee slowly, of scheduling my first client after 10 a.m., of scheduling my work around my bi-weekly swimming.  Pure heaven. Exactly what they mean when they say “money can’t buy happiness”.  Would I like to have more money? Absolutely!  Would I change any of the choices I made?  Absolutely not!


The only regret I have is not to have done it earlier.  The early retirement I mean.  Honestly everything – from the going to University to complete the degree to cutting the workweek to early retirement.  Except, we do things when we are ready.  I obviously was not ready before I did take the plunge.

Life has been great.  I have enjoyed every minute of my new careers and, another surprise, I am on the brink of starting yet another career: professional blogger.  It’s exciting, I am learning a lot.  I am meeting new people, I feel my brain is growing again.

Should you take the risk?  Only you can answer the question. There is a good chance you will be poorer.  There’s a good chance you will have to work hard, whether to get a degree  or to start the new career.  Are you willing to cut expenses?  Are you willing to have to say no to the luxuries you take for granted, at least for a while, whether it’s eating out, traveling, nice clothes.  Depending on what career you are moving to, you could also make a lot more money than in your old job.  Many bloggers for example make six figure income and many make very little.  Many corporate executives who are now business and life coaches also make as much if not more than they did in their paid employment and many barely make enough to survive.

If you decide to make a change, do your homework.  Talk to people who do what you want to do.  Look at the employment opportunities in the new field.  I admit I did neither which seems a bit reckless.  However,  my leave of absence from the government also included the option of returning to my old job or a similar one.  That was my safety net.  I am glad I never needed it

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Let me know what you are dreaming of changing in your life

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Avoid big money mistakes

Money mistakes, by Marguerite Tennier, M.A                                           This post may contain affiliate links

Avoid those big money mistakes

big money mistakes,



Money.  Money..  Money. I like to think that I have always been careful with my money.  Yet, when I do a quick review in my mind – as I am doing now – I can see where in my life where I could have been a lot better in the money department.  I made huge money mistakes that ended up costing me a lot of money.

Mistake no. 1

The first money mistake I remember doing was to neglect investing the cash value of a life insurance my parents had taken for me at birth.  I don’t remember how much it was, maybe $1,000.  Not much by today’s standard but $1,000 invested at 7% when I was 20 could have grown to close to $15,000 at 60.  At 10%, over 40 years, that would have grown to over $45,000. – yes forty-five thousand dollars.

Pearl of Wisdom

Obvious – if you have some money falling from the sky, whether it’s the cash value of a life insurance policy or a gift from a generous relative, and you don’t absolutely need it to survive, invest 90% of it – and treat yourself with the other 10%.  If we are talking about huge amounts of money, invest it all now.  Consult with an independent financial adviser (fee for service) first.  And yes by all means treat yourself but remember that even a million dollars does not go very far these days.

Mistake no. 2

Continue reading “Avoid big money mistakes”

Make Better Choices in Love – Part 2

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couple walking

Great relationships are possible

Barbara de Angelis’s “Are You The One For Me?”  is the first book about creating great relationships  I remember reading.  It’s about how in the beginning of a relationship we can use certain criteria to make a better choice of a life partner for a healthy, happy  great relationship.  Not that other people are bad, but they are not the right fit for us and we are not the right fit for them.  And sometimes it feels like the right fit, but for the wrong reasons (our childhood wounds choose for us).  That will be the subject of another post.

This book was about choosing the right partner.  Unfortunately, I missed a previous book where she talked about being the right partner, and this was unfortunate, as I learned later that knowing myself should be the first step in the love dance.  (I just emailed her to ask about that first book and I will try to get my hands on it and report in a future post).

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that like me you Continue reading “Make Better Choices in Love – Part 2”

Make Better Choices in Love Part 1

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carrots hugging

Relationships!  Love that is.

WOW! Where do I start?  What do you think about relationships!  Good, bad, ugly or great?   Relationships, romantic relationships should be a mandatory subject in school.  Middle school.  Many of us have grown up with role models that were less than good role models.  The problem with bad, or not great role models is that unless they are obviously toxic, it’s very difficult for the child and the young adult to see that they are not what we should aim for.  I firmly believe that the high rate of divorce in our society is due to the fact that we are totally ignorant of what’s important to have a healthy, loving long term relationship, and because we don’t know, we don’t practice – from the beginning, including our criteria for choosing a partner and then being a great partner (which I did not know much about).

The map we get at birth

Continue reading “Make Better Choices in Love Part 1”