It is not easy. All of it is hard. Being in healthy relationships, being a nurturing parent, living your best life (or even knowing what that means). What makes the struggle even harder is the lack of clarity around what we are actually trying to accomplish in this life. Be happy? What is that anyway? A feeling? A state of being that we can eventually get to and then kick up our feet and enjoy?
Despite having a mad passion for personal growth at a young age (which didn’t exactly make me the life of the party), I struggled with lack of clarity in what I was trying to accomplish by pursuing growth and change. This is probably why I felt such a relief when the metaphor of the iceberg was introduced in Satir Therapy training.
It was just after grad school, and I was taking the first level of a training that was based on the work of Virginia Satir, an incredible family therapist. In her work, she used the iceberg as a metaphor to describe us as individuals.
As I began exploring this concept, it was like someone finally gave me a roadmap of what change and growth looked like…and it had pictures!!! Or at least a picture. Now I want to share it with you, so that you can start seeing what you are trying to accomplish as you change and grow as an individual. It also gives you an incredible exploratory tool that can support your most precious relationships.
So, let’s jump in.
The iceberg is a metaphor because, as you know, the bulk of the iceberg is below the surface. Only the tip, or approximately 10% of the iceberg is visible above the surface of the water. This represents the part of us that is visible to others. This is what we look like, our behaviour, what we say, how we sound, and our body language.
The part below the surface is much more interesting to me. It contains our feelings, perceptions, beliefs, expectations, yearnings, and spirit. This is the filter or lens through which we see and experience the world around us. This filter is both nature and nurture, and it is developed in our subconscious in early childhood.
CHANGE AS A BOTTOM UP PROCESS
Many people try to change their experience of life by addressing the 10% of their iceberg that is out of the water. If I can lose weight, I will feel better about myself. If I can communicate better, I will get the love that I need. If I can earn more money or get more recognition at work, then I will feel more confident or successful. Are any of these sounding familiar? Culture also supports this misinformation through the marketing campaigns that promise the experience of love, success, or fun through their products. This change is often short lived as you slip back into familiar patterns, or the sweetness of success dulls after time, leaving you looking for the next solution.
For lasting change, we need to explore what is below the surface, flush out limiting beliefs, rework thoughts that are creating toxic emotions, and question expectations that we have of ourselves and others. Even if the goal may be something seen on the surface, such as a health, relationship, or career goal, the magic can be found in reworking the filter through which we operate from.
It is by using this model of change that I have been able to go from a fumbling self-help junkie to someone that confidently grows in everyway and enjoys the process. This has also been replicated with my clients as they develop clarity in their healing and growth journey, moving forward with confidence and (eventually) ease.
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