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  • Writer's pictureDympna Weil, MD

The Dimmer Switch

We all know that the holidays can be filled with mixed emotions.

Time with family can bring about lots of joy, but sometimes also other emotions, stress, and challenges. This holiday week, I want to share this idea of the dimmer switch of life with all of you.

As I have had to learn to navigate vestibular/balance dysfunction I have also had to re-learn a lot of subtle skills I had taken for granted.

This has created many challenges and also many opportunities for me to question

how I want to show up in those moments when it is not easy.

I learned very quickly that my vestibular recovery is incredibly nuanced.

If I don’t challenge it enough, I don’t recover.

If I push it too hard, it easily becomes overwhelmed and shuts down,

rendering my vestibular physical therapy ineffective.

Why am I sharing all this?

Because I learned that viewing my vestibular recovery

through the lens of a dimmer switch changed everything for me.

I could turn it up just enough to get the system revved to make meaningful progress,

but not so much that it was overwhelmed.

Overwhelm would leave the system unable to pave new neural pathways

and relearn how to reintegrate all the balance information my brain receives.

With a dimmer switch: dial it up, dial it down. Fine tuning it in real time.

And things started to move in the right direction.

I wondered, how might this apply elsewhere in life?

Owning the dimmer switch of my life allows me to adjust to where I am

on any given day, in any given moment.

Intensity up. Intensity down. It allows for grace.

It anticipates changes are coming. So I am ready to respond as it feels right.

And there is power and peace in knowing I can control:

  • up/down

  • on/off

  • subtle/fierce

  • harsh/soft

That element of subtle control in a dimmer switch restores the power back to me in a situation that had me feeling so powerless.

It is as I will have it be.

So this holiday week - and perhaps beyond - consider how the notion of a dimmer switch may serve you.

Is it possible to turn up your self-compassion?

Can you try to dim the self-criticism or the judgement when it appears?

You don’t have to turn it off, but maybe you can try dialing it down - even just a little.

Dial up that self-kindness and gratitude dimmer switch as you gather with your loved ones this year.

Be merry. And be well.

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