YOU ARE LIKE AN ICEBERG
Dee Chadwick
20 Oct 2019
No, I’m not saying that you are a cold person or one who floats around, capable of causing mayhem. Though I have to say that over the years I have met, fortunately just a few, who could probably be described in this way. Rather, I am thinking of the concept of an iceberg as used to illustrate aspects of ourselves.

WHAT OF THOSE ACTUAL ICEBERGS?

The geographer/geologist in me was simply unable to pass by the opportunity of giving them a mention.

An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open water. Wikipedia tells us that small bits of disintegrating icebergs are called "growlers" or "bergy bits". I have to admit that these are descriptions that are new to me, but I feel that they transfer very well to human equivalents, so use will be made of them shortly.

It is difficult unless we are up close and personal to grasp the huge size of some of the icebergs. A gigantic iceberg recently broke away from, calved from, the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Its official name is D-28 and it comes in at 1,636 square kilometres (around 50x30 kilometres). I find it hard to visualise this, but when translated as approximately the size of Sydney’s built up area, or the Isle of Skye, I begin to grasp what a huge piece of ice D-28 is. I like the concept that the scientists awaiting this happening described the area from which it parted company as the ‘Loose Tooth’ area. So, I wonder does this mean that mother nature is the tooth fairy whisking away the iceberg into warmer waters there to gradually melt away?

BUT, CAN THEY BE USED

Let’s begin with the teeth, the answer is a categorical ‘yes’. They can be saved, in readiness for the extraction of stem cells if this may be of help in serious illness later in life. I quote from one of the sites offering storage of these cells -‘Cells found in your child’s milk teeth, as well as those in healthy adult teeth, are important as these clever cells have regenerative potential and can convert themselves into many different types of cells. These cells are considered to be naïve and it is because of this it could allow them to change which could lead to repair of cells and fix joints, muscles, bone, nerves, and even a damaged heart.’

So what about the icebergs? Just as those teeth can be made use of, so it is theoretically possible to make use of the fresh water locked up in the icebergs. Having said that, The Sun newspaper makes mention of Chilean breweries in the mid 1800’s towing small icebergs, sometimes fitted with sails, for use as refrigeration units. Sounds like science fiction, but they also talk of ‘bagging a ‘berg’’ for use as a source of fresh water. It is something that the UAE are considering – at a huge cost. Trial runs over the shorter distance to South Africa or Australia could pave the way for the longer journey to the Arabian Sea. There they could be used in UAE where water supply is a huge on-going problem. The financial cost would be enormous, but also needing to be considered are environmental costs including desalination of the water of the Arabian Gulf and the affect this would have on the marine environment. It will be interesting to see if this becomes science fact and if so, will the environmental factors will be taken in to account.

WHEN DESCRIBING OUR MINDS

Turning from actual icebergs …. when working with individuals in therapy or couples for hypnobirthing, I use the iceberg as a way of illustrating the concept of our minds. A concept originally used by Freud.

Our Conscious mind

Consider that iceberg floating in the sea. It can look big, huge especially I presume, if you are nearby in a smallish boat, or even one as large as the Titanic! However, it is, as the saying goes, only the tip of the iceberg – this part that is visible above the water. It is estimated as being approximately ten percent that we can see. The rest, the vast majority is below sea level.That ten percent equates with our conscious mind – the part of our mind that we are aware of and is used for our day to day processing, decision making etc.

We are constantly being bombarded with visual, auditory, tactile information. If our conscious minds took all of these on board, we would struggle with an overwhelming information overload. Only a small percentage of the information is registered and processed or acted upon. Filters cut out much which is deemed to be unnecessary to us at that moment in time and an even smaller percentage of the information is remembered a day later.

Just take a moment to identify the information that you are surrounded by. I am in the familiar setting of my conservatory. I am vaguely aware of the plants, the furnishings that are within my field of vision, though I am paying them no attention. I am ignoring the sound of passing traffic on the main road, though when I think of it, I could easily become annoyed by it. I may, however, be momentarily startled by a sound – usually when a wood pigeon lands on the conservatory roof, then tip taps its way from one end to the other. It momentarily clicks in to being considered as the sudden noise may be a sign of danger. I am switched off to the smell of the hot blackcurrant and tangerine tea by my side. I take for granted the feel of the chair beneath me, the clothes against my skin. If my conscious mind was to focus on all of these aspects of my surroundings, then it would be difficult for me to be able to focus on my task in hand. The more intricate, intense the task in hand, the greater that focusing tends to become.

Our Subconscious mind

Then we have our subconscious mind, of which we are not actively aware. It is the depository for information of which we do not have a conscious awareness. The stuff that makes you the person that you are, and me the person that I am, as it stores a memory of what we have said, done, seen, heard and been influenced by. A memory that allows my conscious mind to cut out all of the superfluous background details as being safe, acceptable. It affects our confidence, self-concept, self-esteem for either good or bad.

It has information that can be recalled, retrieved. At times, it may spring surprises on us – for example, I was at a quiz and I didn’t think I knew the answer to the question – but, lo and behold, my subconscious mind had squirreled that particular microscopic fact away and it popped through to my conscious mind with apparently little (conscious) effort on my behalf. It does make me wonder just how many ‘facts’ are stored away and how I could improve my recall of them - It’s my very own portable encyclopaedia.  I do wonder how much information my subconscious has binned over the many years of battling to revise for exams. Revision that included learning specific blocks of information in different settings in order to have a link to assist with recall when the dreaded exam nerves had taken over. No place was sacred to being used as a part of this process!

Some years ago, I decided to visit my grandparents grave. It isn’t near to me and I hadn’t visited it for many years. It was in a large Manchester cemetery and I was amazed to find that I walked straight to it. From somewhere in my subconscious, there was a recognition of a chapel and I remembered that I had to turn right there. Along this path, the shape of a tree jumped out at me as being familiar, although familiar from over fifty years ago. I knew that I had to take the next path on the left. I got there thanks to my hidden, but still retrievable memories. It is when buildings have been demolished, trees felled along what used to be a familiar road that we can become lost as our sign posts to our subconscious mind have been wiped away.

Just as I used location as a method to help with recall, so a smell, a sound can trigger a link. The smell of mint sauce takes me immediately back to see minute details of my childhood family home and included are tiny details that I didn’t realise I could remember. There can be times when you may not realise that you have ‘logged’ something as your attention was focused elsewhere. However, on recall of the original event, what you hadn’t consciously logged pops up in full glorious technicolour or hi-fi sound.

It is felt, and I include myself in this feeling, that through hypnosis it is possible to access the subconscious mind enabling change. A change of behaviour or ways of thinking that are harmful, unhelpful, unhealthy, even self-destructive for the client. This can take place more effectively in hypnosis as communication is aimed at the subconscious.

That subconscious mind is aware of what you feel are ok places or states of mind for you to be – your comfort zones. This means that you get those feelings of unease, discomfort if you step beyond your boundaries of comfort. This is an area of which we need to be aware in order to prevent our comfort zones becoming our ruts thus preventing progress, and change from taking place.

BACK TO THOSE GROWLERS AND BERGY BITS

I like to imagine that within both our conscious and subconscious minds we have growlers lurking, those bergy bits, maybe waiting to catch us unawares and bite us on the bum if we felt that things were going well and we were becoming as my Mum used to say ‘too big for our boots’. They are those bits of our memories that remind of us of just who or what we really are; just how much we could achieve if we applied ourselves more effectively; or that we have changed before, so certainly can change again. Maybe these are the growlers, nipping at our heels.

Some of the bits I feel carry reminders for our well-being - that we need to have a brain break; that we need to focus our attention more efficiently in order to succeed; that we need to be kind to ourselves. These, I feel, are the bergy bits, giving us a lift, giving that support when we need it. Support that comes from within us and is there if we only take the time and effort to log into it and be aware of what our subconscious mind is reminding us of.

In can’t help but think of the song by Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio, in the Disney film from way back in 1940. The song is ‘Give a Little Whistle/Always let your conscience be your guide’ – or maybe it should have been your subconscience! Jiminy Cricket suggests to Pinnochio that giving a little whistle, would help him to link with his conscience.  Maybe we should develop a direct way to communicate with our inner mind especially as it can sometimes be that those growlers and bergy bits are difficult to identify. When we do, they serve us well when we quieten our conscious mind, step away from the hamster wheel it can become and tune in to the messages from our subconscious mind. Maybe using relaxation, meditation, mindfulness whereby that conscious mind is quietened and allows for such moments of clarity to occur. Is this just a different version of giving that little whistle - allowing use of all of our mind rather than simply focusing on the tip of the iceberg.

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