Day 5: Thermometer or Thermostat?

I’m just about to start my Superbrain Quest with Jim Kwik. It’s a memory program and it’s one of the reasons I decided to ditch the wine – drinking is rubbish for brain health.

This morning, I’m working through the “warm up” material in preparation for the course. In one of the videos, Kwik says this:

You are not a thermometer. You are a thermostat.

He goes on to say a thermometer takes the temperate while a thermostat sets the temperature.

Coincidentally, I recently wrote some things in my journal about self-perception as I worked through a series of exercises in Brendon Burchard’s book, High Performance Habits. At the time, I was blown away by what came out, how I perceived myself as ‘constantly scanning and correcting’ based on those around me. In the past, I spent most of my time perceiving myself through the eyes of others, rather than considering what I actually thought and felt.

I kept safe (metaphorically speaking) by adapting to those around me and being whatever version of myself would fit best in that situation. I remember seeing this as a strength when I was younger. “I’m a chameleon”, I would think, as I adapted again and again.

I didn’t realise it made me constantly vigilant and always scanning outside myself for information about how to act, constantly monitoring myself through the eyes of those around me – or at least what I imagined those eyes were seeing.

I was a thermometer.

The trouble is, this type of scanning and thinking is exhausting and it creates a disconnect within the person themselves- or at least it did that in me. At some point, relief has to be sought – from the need to be vigilant in the presence of others and then later, from the fractured sense of self after you lose touch with your own temperature gauge.

Looking at it this way, it’s easy to see why socialising without alcohol seemed nearly impossible to me and how, even alone, wine helped dull the constant whirring, examining and judgement.

I have already taken huge steps in the direction of becoming a thermostat and now I’m taking this one because wine makes it easy to stop this painful progress in its tracks. It draws you in with it’s invitation to let go and relax, to switch off. But now is the time to switch and set the temperature.

I am my thermostat.

Do you feel like a thermometer or a thermostat?

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