When we’re trying to change something like an overeating habit, it can feel good to take lots of action. But how many times have we failed when approaching it that way? And what if there’s another way?
- How the iceberg metaphor of change works
- The surprising way change actually works
- Why explorers of this understanding are like tuning forks
- Continuing our conversation about the back of the spiral
- How insight is what raises the temperature of the water around the iceberg
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Dr. Amy Johnson
- Ian Watson’s episode of Unbroken
Transcript of episode
Hello explorers, and welcome to Q&A episode 44 of Unbroken. I’m Alexandra Amor.
Today I want to do a follow up episode to episode 41. In that episode I talked about the natural shape of change, which is like a spiraling shape. And the way that our growth or change or learning happens in that kind of a spiral motion. And we want it to be a straight line, but it isn’t. Sometimes we can get into the back of the spiral, which can be a little more challenging.
So this is a bit of a follow up to that I wanted to share a metaphor that Dr. Amy Johnson, I heard her share it years ago. It’s the iceberg metaphor. And then I might go into a little bit of a mash up of these two metaphors.
Let me share the iceberg metaphor first. This is a metaphor of change.
If you picture an iceberg sitting in the water, in the North Atlantic near Newfoundland or down in the Antarctic. They’re really big. I was actually reading online today, there’s an iceberg down in the Antarctic, now that is broken away from some place, some ice sheet or something that it was near. And it’s the size of Oahu, the island in Hawaii, if you can imagine. It dwarfs the island of Manhattan by four or five times. It’s absolutely enormous.
Icebergs are really big. And that’s what an overeating habit can feel like, right?
What we’re what I’m talking about on Unbroken, and in my work, is a model of change that’s very different from the traditional model of change. And the traditional model of change looks like if you imagine that that iceberg is your overeating habit, what we tend to do, because we don’t know any better, we’re innocently we’re trying to change something, right? If it’s this big, bulky thing, it feels like a problem, it feels like we need to get rid of it.
We get up there on the iceberg and we chip away with our ice pick, which of course is a ton of work, especially if you’ve got an iceberg that’s the size of a Oahu. So again, we do this because we don’t know any other way. It’s just the way that we’ve been taught that change works.
Imagine how much effort it would take and how long it would take to chip away at an iceberg. Even if it’s not the size of Oahu. It’s almost an impossible task. And of course to because given where icebergs exist, if you made a little bit of progress, and chipped away at some of that iceberg and then moved over to another section it could snow, it could rain, and that place where you were chipping away, could just fill in with ice again. So it’s hard work. And it we really don’t make much progress. I will say now too, though, it looks like the only way.
So this model of using the ice pick on the iceberg is the diet model.
This is the self-help model that we innocently, innocently take in order to create change in our lives and resolve an overeating habit. What that looks like is controlling our food intake, it looks like using willpower, it looks like assigning ourselves certain foods we can eat and certain foods we can’t eat. It looks like holding ourselves to a really strict standard of behavior.
And that feeling of being on a really tight leash when it comes to food, like there are forbidden foods over there. And I can only eat these ones over here. And I can only eat certain amounts of them.
Of course, we all know we can only do that for so long. It’s just exhausting. And given that our design is trying to give us information about what’s going on with our insecure thinking the force of nature that we’re up against, is not movable by us and our little attempts to chip away at that iceberg, if that makes sense. We’re dealing with universal forces here.
No wonder it feels like incredibly hard work to try to control this thing that’s happening within us, this force of nature. And no wonder we fail all the time.
So that’s the first part of the iceberg metaphor. The second part is that in this understanding the three principles understanding that I’m exploring on this podcast and in my work, the inside out understanding:
What we’re doing to create change in this understanding, is we’re raising the temperature of the water.
We’re looking somewhere entirely different. We’re not really tackling the iceberg at all, with our brute strength, we are coming at it from a completely different direction. And like I say, trying to raise the temperature of the water. And when we do that, what happens is that the iceberg itself naturally melts, it has no choice, because that’s how ice and water work. That’s, that’s science. That’s physics.
How do we do that? How do we raise the temperature of the water? What does that look like?
The first thing I want to say is that it is a model that looks like we have so much less control, or even there is so much less for us to control. I think one of the reasons that we have so often reached for the ice pick method, the diet and managing control method is that it’s satisfying, in that it feels like we’re doing something. We’re taking action, we are making a plan and trying to stick with it. And that kind of action, that kind of structure and just that feeling that we’re getting something done, temporarily, that can feel really satisfying.
We feel like we’ve got control over it. And therefore, things are going to be okay.
Now I can speak for myself personally and say I tried that hundreds, hundreds of times over 30 years, probably thousands, and it never worked. But in the beginning, I always felt that feeling of satisfaction, okay, I’ve got a handle on this. I’m really holding on to this tightly. And I can do this, I can do these things.
And of course, they never lasted. But I think it’s that feeling of satisfaction and control that we keep going back to over and over and over again.
Instead, in this understanding, we were searching for insight.
The way that we do that is by listening to podcasts like this and listening to people talk about this understanding and reading books and that kind of thing.
I had Ian Watson on the show a couple of episodes ago, on the Thursday interview show, I can’t remember what episode it was, what number, but he talked about how when we begin to explore this understanding and really get our heads around it we become almost like a tuning fork for others. I loved that metaphor that he used because I can feel that when I’m having an interview when I’m talking to someone on a Thursday episode, and they share what they can see. And I can feel that when I’m listening to someone speak on a podcast like Dicken Bettinger or whoever it is, Dr. Bill Pettit. Any number of people, Michael Neill, Sydney Banks.
There’s that real tuning fork feeling and what happens with a tuning fork here I go into another metaphor, but sorry about that, but it’s just occurring to me now. I think that the way tuning forks work, if you tap a tuning fork on something and get it vibrating, that the thing near it will begin to vibrate at that same frequency.
That’s how this understanding works is that we come close to someone else who’s vibrating at this frequency, not to get all woowoo about it, but metaphorically. And we begin to vibrate at that same frequency. So in that, there’s really nothing for us to do other than listen, and pay attention to our own wisdom and our own experience. And that can be a tricky thing to do.
This is where we circle back around to the conversation we had an episode 41, about the back of the spiral.
Because when we’re in the back of the spiral, like I am right now – I looked it up, I have a little spreadsheet and I’ve been here now as of this recording, for about two months. And that’s tricky. It’s frustrating, and it’s challenging.
I can feel that what my mind wants to do is get the ice pick out.
My mind starts thinking, “There’s got to be something I can do to chip away at this iceberg.” Instead, I’m just floating here, waiting for the temperature of the water to rise. Now, fortunately, I’ve been exploring this understanding for long enough that I trust what’s happening. I’m sure from the outside, it looks like I’m doing nothing to raise the temperature of the water, to create the next bit of change in my life and to have insights.
Insights are what raise the temperature of the water, they are the thing that creates change.
I’m sure from the outside, if someone was watching really closely, it would seem like I’m doing nothing to make that happen. I’m sure that that person, whoever was watching, would tell me to get the ice pick out again, to start weighing and measuring my food. I’ve talked about my affection for rice and potatoes, to cut those foods out of my life and just make them go away and use willpower to make that happen. And that kind of thing.
Thankfully, I know now enough to know that that’s not the answer. But it does take a bit of faith. And I have had some days recently where I’ve felt frustrated. Being in the back of the spiral is frustrating. But as I mentioned last time on episode 41, this is where the learning happens. This is where the insights happen. So I’m not getting the ice pick out.
I’m letting the iceberg be what it is for right now. It can seem like it’s growing, or it’s this big looming thing. And it feels much better. Of course, when we’re on the front of the spiral, when things are going great. When I personally feel like I’m eating in a way that really is aligned with my values and what I’m trying to accomplish. And of course, that always feels so good.
And then when we come into the back of the spiral, it’s it feels less good. It’s can be frustrating.
So I just wanted to do that little metaphor mash up for you. And talk about the back of the spiral, a little bit more. I don’t think I had ever mentioned that iceberg metaphor before. So I thought this would be a good way to, to share something that might help you to see something new, and also to illustrate how change really works.
What we can do to create change is stay in the conversation. Listen to what’s what other people are saying. Bring your tuning fork up close to somebody else’s tuning fork. And know and trust that insight will find you and then it’s just as close as your next thought.
I hope that’s been helpful for you and that you are doing well and taking good care. I will talk to you again next week. Bye for now.