The Iceberg Effect
It’s common knowledge that on average, nine tenths of a typical iceberg is beneath the surface while only one tenth can be seen above the water. Many ships during the centuries that were unaware of the sheer size and force of a large iceberg paid a dear price for their lack of knowledge, arrogance or sheer ignorance.
I am using this simple analogy to illustrate one of life’s vital ingredients that who you are, how you behave and act, what you decide and the quality of your life during all of your years is under the control of your mind, most of which lies hidden deep within your 300 billion+ brain cells. Just a few thoughts to consider before I get to the main message.
-You have over 100,000 miles of brain connections (4 times around the globe).
-There are over 3 trillion chemical reactions in the average human brain every second.
-Each brain cell (of the billions of brain cells) has over 10,000 connections.
-99% of your body’s actions and functions are under the control of your unconscious mind.
-For example you get over 80,000 heartbeats and 45,000 breaths every day none of which you need to monitor or control.
I could go on with the tremendous number of miracles your brain manages every second of every day, but my point is that – your mind, although it has been studied for thousands of years is still one of life’s biggest mysteries. There is still, to this day, less known about how this three pound organ operates than any other human organ.
OK, to my point of this article.
In the mind there are numerous actions which are driven by; values, beliefs, emotions and attitudes. Let me give you a simple formula – Beliefs contribute to values, values contribute to thoughts, thoughts contribute to feelings, emotions and perceived choices, feelings and emotions contribute to decisions, decisions determine actions and actions cause consequences.
Therefore to change consequences we must go to the source of the outcomes or beliefs and thoughts if we want to make any changes in our life or lifestyle.
On the surface this might at first glance seem a simple process, but if it is so simple, why do so many people live lives filled with; pain, fear, disappointment, discouragement, a lack of hope or poor self esteem or low self-confidence? It’s simple, but complicated, so let me see if in a few words I can help you see how your mind (beliefs, values, thoughts and emotions) are creating your moment by moment life regardless of whether it is positive, negative, good, bad or what you want or don’t want.
Beliefs – Beliefs are what you believe (whether true or not) about yourself, others and the world. They are your truths only and not in any way, shape or form reality. They are only your realities. These beliefs have developed during your life from a variety of sources; family, friends, teachers, church leaders and anyone who had influence over you. These beliefs are the foundation for each of your thoughts. If a thought enters your mind that is contrary to a belief – you discard it – let it go or dispute or defend your own belief. If it is in line with a belief, you acknowledge it, accept it and justify it. When a thought is triggered by another’s action or circumstance and is alien to your beliefs, you will tend to argue or defend your belief to the grave.
Thoughts – Your beliefs contribute to your thoughts and they come and go through the mind non-stop – 24 hours a day - and at an incredibly rapid pace. They come and go caused by any number of conditions, circumstances, expectations or actions by others or the world. You either dwell on them (worry, fret, stress or feel joy, peace and contentment) depending on how they align with your beliefs and values. Just think about a disagreement or argument you have had with someone – guaranteed you were defending your belief or value structure and the outside-in triggers – other’s words or actions. Thoughts can strengthen us or cause us to lose focus, confidence or a positive life outlook. Thoughts never stop even when we pray, relax, meditate or are watching our favorite TV show.
Thoughts are your companion or the enemy – it’s your choice. They can cause emotional or intellectual dysfunction or they can contribute to happiness and success.
Emotions – Your thoughts contribute to your emotions and emotions are feelings expressed either inwardly through pain, guilt, grief, sadness or happiness, inner peace or contentment or a variety of others both positive and negative. Emotions are often how we express our thoughts to others. Ever had someone say to you – you seem sad or happy or angry?
Thoughts caused you to behave in this way. Thoughts are simply our emotional body communicating with our world. The challenge is to have the ability to not let thoughts control your emotions especially when your thoughts are not grounded in reality but some automatic response they can often be either inappropriate or unnecessary.
Attitudes – Attitudes contribute to mindsets and are developed over time as a result of experience, expectations, objectives or just failing to grasp the significance of the impact of their various causes. When someone has a “bad” or “good” attitude what do we mean? Keep in mind that another’s attitudes are owned by them and we have the choice as to whether to let their attitudes impact or control us and our behavior. Attitudes are like barometers – they are public indicators of what you believe or how you feel.
Mindsets – Attitudes contribute to mindsets. A mindset is nothing more than a consistent way of looking at something or believing or behaving. If you are a judgmental person you have a judgmental mindset that developed over the years. If you are a happy person same is true. If you are a worrier or an optimist again, same is true. Mindsets are the mind’s way of controlling how we respond externally to our inner beliefs and values.
Choices – Choices contribute to our decisions. A choice is just a series of alternatives that we have when considering an action or response to any life event or circumstance. We always have choices although we may not like or be comfortable with them. Choices are neutral - they don’t have actions or consequences – they are just options for consideration. What gives them power or control is what we do once we choose. But choosing is not deciding. We all make choices every day, but we don’t always act on them. However, choices do contribute to the decisions we make and often how we make them and then act on them.
Decisions – Choices contribute to decisions, but unless we act on a decision it is just a choice and a decision, nothing more.
Actions – Decisions contribute to action, but they are not responsible for the outcomes that take place – this is a function of life and your behavior. But, to achieve any goal or state you must act – hopefully with maturity, common sense and wisdom, but in the end the outcome of action can’t be predicted.
Consequences – All actions have consequences some are positive while others can be negative. Some are immediate while others can take years to come to fruition. But in the end sooner or later, all actions have a consequence. If you don’t like your consequences your only choice is to make the best of it and if it was a negative one then rewind your mental clock and start again with an evaluation of your beliefs and thoughts and how they are influencing your outcomes.
The iceberg effect is understanding that your life and its circumstances no matter how delightful or dreary are the result of how each of the above ingredients contributes to the end result and if you don’t like the end result then you have to change. Change what – beliefs, thoughts and their impact on the rest of the process.
Well, there you have it. So I’ll leave you with a questions – are you in control of your mind and your life or is your life simply a pawn of your beliefs, values, thoughts and emotions?
“It’s not what we don’t know that hurts; it’s what we
know that ain’t so.”