Are You a Thermostat or Thermometer?
When I first came across this question, I immediately thought I had to choose one. I looked at it through the narrow lens of the very drained and busy mom I was at the time and I conjured up this image of a thermometer and a thermostat. I thought about each one’s function. Thermometers react to the temperature; thermostats control the temperature and BOOM! It hit me. I was something I didn’t want to be. I saw myself as a thermometer. It made me feel less than enough in my role as mother, wife, friend, and ME. Even though I was supposed to be the one in charge, I didn’t feel in control of my environment, because I felt overwhelmed and depleted.
I didn’t know what to do about it. I saw myself toggling between a reactionary hot head and an ice queen on any given day or time. I realized that no one was regulating the temperature in my home. It was erratic and unpredictable based upon my emotional tone and “temperature” reading. Then it hit harder, my children were all a bunch of thermometers with me! Double augh!!!
Here’s the thing about thermometers and thermostats I didn’t realize at the time though, they both serve a purpose, but function very differently. And in truth, there’s times in our lives when we’re both. What’s important to know is which one you’d like to be for the function you want. Let me explain.
In my role as the busy mom, I bring the metaphor of me functioning as a thermostat into my days and I set the emotional tone or “temperature” in my home. Like it or not, moms set the tone in their home. Keeping ourselves at the temperature we want is up to us to maintain. When you cultivate the skills of exquisite self-care and attune to your needs for wellbeing, it becomes easier to stay at the temperature you want – like a thermostat – and the payoff is HUGE. Life becomes lighter, with more ease and vitality to share.
Your power lies in your response to any given situation. For example, the kids break something (a ‘thing’ happened) you can choose to react and get all fired up over it OR you can choose to respond in a way that puts things in a healthy perspective and keeps you (and everyone around you) calm and comfy. It’s your choice.
And guess what? Kids are always expert thermometers. They have to be, they haven’t learned how to regulate yet. It’s up to us to teach them. Until then, they’re going to siphon off from you and the temperature you set through your modeling and guidance. Be like the thermostat in your home and set the temperature to keep you and everyone else comfy cozy.
Of course, there are times when we need to be thermometers too. For example, a social situation when it’s good to know if the temperatures rising and it’s time to step out for some cooling off or perhaps time to leave altogether. Afterall, we can’t control what’s not ours to control.
The point is, it’s not bad to be a thermometer or a thermostat. It’s dependent upon the role you’re filling, and the awareness needed for your desired outcome. You might need to be both. Having metaphors like these in your head make it easier for you to define your roles, by painting pictures of awareness for an organization of thoughts.
Arlene Figueroa is an NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Life Coach with the iNLP Center. Her online coaching practice is dedicated to helping women balance the needs of family with their own.Arlene is the mother of three who went from chronic overwhelm into a life that’s vibrant by equipping herself with tools for everyday living. When she works with women, they learn quickly that even making small adjustments in how they treat themselves can make a HUGE difference in how they show up in life. Arlene’s passionate about supporting women to nourish the woman within. Read about her coaching program for Overwhelmed Moms.