“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
This quote seems like a cliché and we’ve all heard clichés before. However, have you ever really stopped to think about what this quote could mean and how it might apply to you and your unknown issues that trigger your reactions?
If you study psychology or Sigmund Freud then this is no new concept to you. Freud suggested that the structure of the human mind is related to an iceberg sitting in water. Only the tip of the iceberg (above the water) represents our conscious mind or present awareness. Just (under the waterline) is our pre-conscious mind or dream state. The majority of the iceberg (our mind) is hidden from view (deep below the water) and hidden from our awareness. This is the unconscious part of our mind that contains our passions, instincts, fears, traumas and long-term forgotten memories. Freud further thought that bits of our unconscious could break off (when provoked) and float to the surface of our conscious awareness in terms of neuroses (stress).
In considering Freud’s theory and how we react to situations, we can say that the exposed portion of the iceberg is our 10% awareness and the parts under the water are our remaining 90% unawareness.
So in looking at what happens to us in our lives that we are aware of, an event or situation, it’s the 90% how we react to it, our unawareness. For example, let’s say that you had to be a caretaker as a child to your family but you have no conscious memory or awareness that you played that role. Fast forwarding to today, someone you care about is in distress and you try to help them and try taking on the caretaking role unconsciously but they reject your help. Your unconscious mind would trigger feelings that surface such as stress and you would then become aware there is a hidden pain in your past. There are many conflicts, disagreements or even painful events that happen to us that trigger our unconscious and therefore, we should consider this as an opportunity to heal ourselves and heal our iceberg of its wounds that we were not aware of before. Instinctively, when you catch yourself reacting in a negative or aggressive way this stimulates painful feelings in us that we may or may not really understand. When this happens, look into your iceberg and discover what has been hidden in your past that was just triggered to stimulate that reaction. How you react is your guide letting you know this is an opportunity to heal yourself from a hidden pain in your past. There is something incredibly empowering about realizing we are holding pain we were not aware of and that we are no longer required to cling to it. We can let go of it and experience new positive feelings. Once we learn this, the world suddenly seems more expansive and our issues become less catastrophic because we realize have not lost, we gained by recognizing. We can feel happy again and even better than ever. Embracing ourselves and appreciating that every time we let go of a past hurt, we make room for something new in our lives.
What is hidden in your iceberg that you are not aware of? What reactions have you had that suggested you look into your past and heal?