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The Upside of a Meltdown

A company I follow, Adaptiv Learning, recently shared an article on strengthening resiliency for navigating "iceberg beliefs." It calved a few thoughts of my own that I thought might be beneficial to share.

To start, an iceberg belief is a deeply held belief of our place in the world and whose "mass" is greater below the surface of our consciousness.

Iceberg beliefs reveal themselves in a couple of ways: 1) when our emotional response to a specific adversity is out of balance, like when you react with terror to an email from the boss that hits your inbox, and 2) when our belief is a universal judgment, like "as the boss, I need to know everything."

Melting our iceberg beliefs begins with an awareness of what we're thinking to be true. If there is one universal mesearching melting pots I could share, just one, it would be this: Don't believe everything you think. Put that $#!+ on a tee shirt.

When we find ourselves navigating an iceberg belief, understand this: the emotional reaction to the belief–stress/anxiety–is there to help you, not hurt you. Its job is to get your attention to a situation it believes is a threat. (ICEBERG, RIGHT AHEAD!) Your anxiety is priming you to melt the iceberg belief. It's asking you the question, "is this truly a slippery slope?" It's looking TO YOU for an answer to assure your conscious and subconscious self that everything is chill, so to speak.

But why do some adversities ignite this response and not others? An iceberg is a belief about you and your place/purpose in the world*. DEEPLY held beliefs about yourself. That sweaty, heart-pounding threat-based reaction to your boss's email? Iceberg belief. Perhaps it's a deeply held belief that you're a fraud, an imposter, and that she's figured you out and has just sent you an email calling you out. We all know the hailstorm of thoughts that follows if we don't stop and turn the heat up on the iceberg belief.

Crank up the heat. Immediately. Start the melting process with facts, not fiction. Disrupt the emotional arctic blast with an equatorial heat wave of your own wisdom.

Resilience is our floatation device when crashing into an iceberg. Its buoyancy is limited by the perspective from which we view the perceived adverse situation. Our beliefs dictate that and the stories from our lives that gave us that belief, amplified by the feelings associated with it, give it its "truth"– its mass under the surface. It's what makes the beliefs feel so real.

Give yourself an ernest chance at a complete meltdown by going Shackelton on it. Strap on your crampons and step off your mental ship of fools and onto the perceived slippery slope. Build a fire of facts on it and melt it. Accept it will be a test of endurance, but trust me, it WILL melt. And when it does, rehydrate your resilience with its liquid. You've gotta stay hydrated on your mesearching journey.


*Martin Seligman, Ph.D., Karen Reivich, Ph.D, Andrew Shatté, Ph.D.

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