I’ve been reminded several times recently about icebergs.
(Most random sentence you’ve read in awhile, yes?)
Let me explain.
Icebergs are essentially giant floating chunks of ice. And ice is just frozen water. Not so scary, right? Except…
…you only see a small fraction of their mass above the water. The rest is hidden underneath the sea with an unknown width and depth.
Now, think about people being icebergs.
When we observe others – friends, family members, coworkers, acquaintances, or complete strangers – we are only seeing a tiny piece of their width and depth, particularly when it comes to thoughts, emotions, and feelings.
Any number of things, positive and negative, can be going on beyond what we can see on the surface. We don’t get the full story just by observing what’s happening above the water.
I myself been on both sides of this coin. I’ve been cool, calm, and collected on the outside when inside I’m bursting with happiness, dying to jump for joy or squeal with excitement. I’ve also smiled and laughed and put on a good front when I’m really confused, scared, over-thinking, anxious, and worried (probably about several different things at the same time).
I think remembering the iceberg image is a critical piece of interpersonal relationships, whether it’s a family member, a best friend you’ve known for years, a coworker, or heck, even your accountant whom you see once a year to do your taxes.
There’s always more than meets the eye. We may find out what it is; we may not. Sometimes all you need to do is ask, but you have to respect being told “no, thanks”. And then, we may understand it, or we may not. (Lord knows I struggle with not knowing the whys or getting the complete picture. See this post here.)
But as my mom says, c’est la vie. That’s life.
When talking to, working with, or simply observing others, keep in mind that you’re not getting the whole picture. There’s always something going on beneath the surface 🙂
P.S. – Yes, I know this theory has been around for many, many years. Not my original thought, but it’s what was on my mind today 🙂