Many of us grew up with the story of the Titanic — an unexpected and tragic encounter between an elegant, state-of-the-art, transcontinental luxury ship and… ice.
Here’s the thing about large, unsupervised chunks of floating ice — what you see is not what you get. The part at the surface is only a small part of the whole. Apparently it’s the part that’s not visible that creates disaster.
[Tweet “Apparently it’s the part that’s not visible that leads to disaster.“]
Isn’t that a lot like certain parts of our lives? There’s what we see and then there’s the rest — which is often a whole lot bigger. That’s certainly true of our brains: the rational part is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s probably OK to not know about ALL of the rest. Where things get dicey is when we pretend that what we see is all there is.
Many people use the iceberg image to talk about the unconscious. I’m not that fancy: I like to think about it in terms of unawareness.
[Tweet “Many people use the iceberg image to talk about the unconscious.“]
So, if the dangerous part of our lives or our thinking are the parts we don’t see, what can be done? The first step is becoming willing to become aware. Take a look at this cycle and see how it feels to you.
I feel stressed. I have a lot of information about self-care, but I haven’t been applying it. Recognizing that makes me feel more stressed because I now add “guilt feelings” to the pile. “I should know better,” you say to yourself. The ache in the pit of your stomach gets stronger. You call yourself a nasty name. Your palms start to sweat.
Familiar? Yuck! You don’t want to feel like that. So what can you do?
The good news is there are lots of things we can do to better manage stress and most of them start with awareness.
[Tweet “Our Inner Critic gives us an edge, tossing us a whole range of physical cues long before we are consciously aware.“]
Becoming more aware does not have to be complicated and, when it comes to stress, our Inner Critic gives us an edge, tossing us a whole range of physical cues long before we are consciously aware.
So the first step to avoiding a tragic encounter with a “giant chunk of ice” is to increase body awareness. From scheduled stretch breaks to regular, brief, head to toe scans checking for tension and temperature. Are you tired or hungry?
Using the “conscious brain” to notice physical signs of anxiety or stress allow us the opportunity to take the next step… to check in with ourselves about other types of stress and maybe manage to avoid a collision with an iceberg!
Do you have any advice for increasing body awareness to decrease stress? Hints for making peace with the noise in your head? Please share them in the comments section.
Increased boy awareness can help turn that Inner Critic into an ally. The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten is now on Amazon.