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Iceberg Beliefs

Your self-limiting beliefs are below the surface, impacting your best self.


“Iceberg beliefs cause you to overexperience certain emotions and underexperience others. Emotionally resilient people feel it all…but they feel those emotions at the appropriate time and to the appropriate degree. Less resilient people tend to get stuck in one emotion, and that comprises their ability to respond productively to adversity.” The Resilience Factor

Your iceberg beliefs could be the root cause of challenges in your life. Awareness of your self-limiting beliefs brings them to the forefront and allows you to begin a journey of self-discovery. When you take the time to examine your thoughts, actions and behaviors below the surface, real change can be made to live your best life.


Iceberg beliefs generally fall into three categories:


1. Achievement: Belief in success to the extreme of perfectionist, often feeling anxious about

performance, or may be highly critical of others. May also feel overwhelmed and

immobilized by unrealistic standards and procrastinate as an attempt to avoid any

sense of failure.


Have you every found yourself spinning because something wasn't perfect, or spent a lot of energy worrying you didn't perform well?


Last week I did a training presentation for an organization. I was well prepared, had effective handout materials and I practiced. Still, when the session ended I felt dread, like I didn't help the participants enough. I had to remind myself of my iceberg belief, "who am I to think I can help?" I got this loving message from my older sister...LOL. Over my 40-year career, I developed an "If, Then" statement to help me with my achievement iceberg: "If I feel I am not enough, then I tell myself sharing my experiences and insight may help."


2. Acceptance: Belief in a strong need to be liked, accepted, praised, and included by others. Focusing on others’ acceptance can lead you to say things to get approval or not saying things to keep approval.


This happens to me periodically, how about you?

Can you identify an "If Then" statement for yourself?


3. Control: Belief in a need to be in control and become uncomfortable when circumstances aren't in direct control, having unrealistic expectations about the level of influence over

themselves and the environment. Can believe not doing enough, or that an unsuccessful event or encounter is a sign of personal failure. Those with a control iceberg may experience feelings of exhaustion or depression when things move out of their control.


Do you experience emotions from any of these iceberg beliefs? Think back to the last time you felt you were triggered by one of these and ask yourself some questions to get to the heart of why you felt the way you did. The Resilience Factor recommends asking “what” questions. "Why" questions tend to make you defensive.

  • What does that mean to me?

  • What is the most upsetting part of that for me?

  • What is the worst part of that for me?

  • What does that say about me?

  • What’s so bad about that?

Once you better understand your self-limiting belief then you'll be more prepared the next time you feel triggered. You can plan to respond vs. react to your own emotions.


If you hope to be your best self, you may need to change your thought patterns.

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