Tip of The Iceberg

May 08, 2023

Our actions and behavior are like the tip of an iceberg. It's only the 10% visible to the world. 

The 90% below the surface are our beliefs, attitudes, identity, habits of thought, and perceptions. 

But somehow we seem to get this backward most of the time. Usually we only focus on the behavior we want changed.

  • Don't yell!
  • Share your toys.
  • Why can't I exercise more?
  • Why can't I just eat less?

We focus most of our time and attention on changing the WHAT (the action or behavior we want changed) but don't spend the appropriate amount of time working on the WHY? (Beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, etc.) 

I recently listened to an interview with a psychiatrist talking about the effects of marijuana use, trying to figure out the actual addiction potential. The response he got from interviewing physicians and other professionals was that the actual substance (be that alcohol, overeating, porn, gambling, gaming, etc.) has less relevance than the reasons your engaging in those behaviors.

So if your engaging in those coping strategies to avoid discomfort, that behavior gets reinforced over time... But the coping strategy(be it porn, alcohol, gaming, eating, social media, binge watching, etc.) is fairly interchangeable. Those are just the things that we're going to, to avoid the discomfort. But the avoidance is actually the problem. The avoidant seeking out of a coping mechanism, is the largest predictor of problematic use. Not the substance, not the unwanted behavior itself. 

When looking at your own life and behaviors you'd like to change, perhaps use this as a starting point:

Next time, instead of mentally beating yourself up for "yet again falling short!" Get curious instead. You have to have a little compassion to do that, to be able to step back. But once you're able to give yourself a little space, ask yourself in what ways is this action/behavior helping me? What need is it filling? How is this helping me feel "better" in some way? Why do I feel a need to do this right now?

Because the truth is that it's doing SOMETHING for you! It's filling some kind of need. If it actually wasn't serving you AT ALL, you wouldn't be doing it.

So get curious. Dive into it to see what's actually driving your actions.

I promise that you'll make much more progress.

As you focus on the WHY, you'll learn how to stop hacking at the branches and better strike at the root of your actions/behaviors.


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