#Askingforafriend: A lesson from the Titanic

By Kristin Wyse
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

I’ve never seen an iceberg before, but pictures I’ve seen of icebergs are truly amazing, beautiful and majestic looking. A mountain in the water. And what the world learned about icebergs after the Titanic sank were not only life-changing but life-saving. Essentially, what’s on top of the water is the smallest part of the iceberg.

Let’s consider our emotions as an iceberg. What we see on top is the smallest part of what’s really going on – they are our secondary, defensive and protective emotions. Emotions such as anger, frustration, bitterness, jealousy, anxiety. These emotions feel a lot more comfortable to us when we think that we’ve been wronged.

But there’s a lot more underneath the water. What’s underneath is the biggest part of the iceberg, and it’s the most important part of what’s really going on emotionally for us. These are our primary, core and most vulnerable emotions, such as hurt, sadness, loneliness, fear and shame. We don’t like experiencing these emotions, so we tend to move to the surface emotions in order to guard and protect our hearts.

Unfortunately, defensive begets defensive, which only leads to more conflict in a relationship. And typically, if we’re talking when we’re not calm, we tend to say things that shame and blame the other person rather than share our vulnerable emotions.

So here are some things to consider about our emotional iceberg:

  • Choose vulnerable emotions vs. protective/defensive: “I feel hurt and fearful about losing our relationship when we don’t spend time together” vs. “You should want to spend more time with me if you care about me.”
  • Honor your emotional experience: Our emotional experiences are true and valid, just as others’ emotional experiences are true and valid to them. We cannot tell each other what to feel or why they should feel a certain way. And most likely, our emotional experiences will be different. Let’s be accepting and nonjudgmental toward our own emotional experiences and others’.
  • Notice where you feel your different emotions in your body: Anger in your hands, sadness in your chest, fear in your stomach. Use these as cues to help you know what emotions you may be experiencing.
  • Observe the progression of your emotions: Typically, our emotions build up and escalate. Knowing how your emotions progress will help to stop the escalation sooner than later and also stop any potential conflict before it occurs.
  • Take the time and space needed to calm your emotions and identify them BEFORE trying to communicate them to others.

Knowing what’s at the bottom of our emotional iceberg will help us connect with ourselves and others. And when we’re able to share our vulnerable emotions within our close and emotionally safe relationships, vulnerability begets vulnerability and strengthens the bond in our relationships.

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/