When I lived in Boston, whether I was feeling broke or simply in one of my “I should save as much as possible” phases, I would decide that I could lower the thermostat in my condo, and cozy up in wool socks and warm sweaters (see my post on inappropriate clothing here). It would last about a week until one day, for no apparent reason, and somehow forgetting all about my new plan to wear layers and save money, I’d become desperate to hear the (incredibly loud) whoosh of my forced hot air system kicking on.
This post is about that. It also has absolutely nothing to do with:
It is, however, about the fact that I am a human, and there is a weird dumb thing that we humans tend to do.
Just when things are starting to go well, we do whatever needs to be done to screw it up. Look around, and you’ll see evidence of it all around you.
Just as our bodies become accustomed to a certain indoor room temperature, we also get accustomed to seeing a certain amount of money in our accounts, and if we see a much larger sum in there, we find ourselves spending it as quickly as we can. Subconsciously trying to get back to our usual bank balance.
Our poor friend might have gotten to a point where being lonely and miserable felt more familiar than being happy and in a relationship. (BTW–I am NOT implying that one cannot be perfectly happy as a single person! Nor that being in a relationship = Happiness. It’s just a 1-person example.) And so subconsciously, they messed things up so that they could go back to feeling those old, familiar, miserable feelings.
The self-sabotaging student might not be able to even process the idea of winning, so they make sure they don’t. They DO know how to be disappointed–both with their performance preparation and the ensuing result–and they’d rather stick with what they know than risk the scariness of a new reality.
The trick, of course, is to recognize it and to get things in place to keep us from putting the thermostat back where it was. We have to learn how to lean into that temporary discomfort until our bodies and our subconscious minds can adapt to the new setting.
How? Well, here is what works for me.
If you’ve prepared well for an audition, and know that you actually have a shot at it this time? It means more is at stake. If you COULD win it, then NOT winning it will feel even worse. Acknowledge that being more prepared might make you feel more nervous at first, and then focus on the positive side of things. Being better prepared also means that you can relax into your playing and have more fun.
You’ve come into/won/made a large sum of money. More than you’ve ever had. Maybe the worst-case scenario for you is the idea that people will only want to hang out with you for your money. Okay. How would you handle that? Do you have a plan for your money? Can you set some boundaries? Maybe you can decide that you won’t spend a penny of it for 6 months. Whatever it is, think through it fully, until the fear dissipates.
We’ve already established that the old you is very uncomfortable with it. That’s okay. Lucky for us, change and growth are part of the long-term plan anyway. So, what positive shifts can you make as far as your identity is concerned? Can you start to see yourself as “one of the good players” amongst your peers? Someone to be taken seriously, win or lose?
Or can you see yourself as someone who is savvy with money? What would that kind of person do? Maybe they’d read books on finance and investing, or maybe they’d have a financial advisor who could help them.
Gay Hendricks writes about this concept in his book The Big Leap, which I read years ago, and highly recommend for his thoughts on this topic. I think it’s something that creatives deal with on a nearly constant level. We put self-inflicted limits on ourselves, and the second we come close to expanding those limits, we will do something stupid to get ourselves back to what we are accustomed to.
By being aware of the tendency, and using the simple thought tools above, you can set the thermostat to whatever you want, and know that you’ll be perfectly comfortable there in no time.
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