On April 15, 1912, British ocean liner RMS Titanic sank midway through her maiden voyage after grazing an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. The collision tore a series of holes in the ship’s starboard hull below the waterline and ocean water immediately filled five of Titanic’s 16 watertight compartments.

The ship reputed to be ‘unsinkable’ was doomed.

Titanic’s crew was inadequately prepared for an evacuation and Titanic had lifeboats for fewer than half of those aboard. The ship sank over the course of three hours. Hundreds were plunged into lethally cold, 28°F seawater and perished of hypothermia, cardiac arrest, or drowning within minutes.

In all, more than 1500 people died in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

What’s below the water line in your life?

You’ve probably heard that


However, as demonstrated by the tragedy of the Titanic, while icebergs may appear innocuous and even beautiful, it’s the stuff below the waterline that kills you. To wit, Titanic’s sinking led to the formation of the Do you pay attention to potential threats?

We each have icebergs floating through our lives, as well.

There are pressures inside each of us resulting from tragedies we’ve lived through, wrongs committed against us, mistakes we’ve made, and other disappointments, failures, and insecurities.

But most of us don’t pay enough attention to them, and our icebergs often go unrecognized or even ignored. From a distance, they may appear innocuous, but they have the potential to be deadly – to sink our lives just like the Titanic.

Our internal issues inevitably manifest themselves in our behavior and decisions, and undermine our strengths and good intentions. In other words, we often find ourselves doing more than we have the ‘inner-life’ to sustain.

There is nothing we can do to avoid it, and ignoring our problems doesn’t make them go away!

Instead, we need our own ‘Internal’ Ice Patrol! The only solution is to identify, monitor, and report on the icebergs in our lives to mitigate the threat they pose. Doing so allows us to understand how they are affecting us and keep them from sinking our lives.

Gain a more accurate understanding of your icebergs.

The following four questions are a starting point to help you gain a more accurate understanding of your icebergs by gauging the state of your ‘inner-life.’ I’ve included a few examples under each question to help you get started.

Do yourself a favor and take some time to really think through these questions and write down your answers. Be honest and transparent with yourself – after all, it’s your life on the line.

Note also that this process may be cathartic and reassuring, surprising, or even difficult and uncomfortable.

Whatever it is – it is. That’s ok.

Four questions for a more accurate understanding of your icebergs:

1) What are you mad about?

  • Job situation
  • Financial pressures
  • Failure

2) What are you sad about?

  • Relationship gone wrong
  • Bad decisions (yours or another person’s)
  • Hope delayed

3) What are you anxious about?

  • Health issue
  • Looming adversity
  • Tenuous situation

4) What are you glad about?

  • Job
  • Relationship
  • Dream come true

We are NOT ‘unsinkable!’

Let me say this again: If you merely breezed over these questions and did not take at least five minutes to jot down some answers, please go back and do so now…

Because unprocessed emotions do not die – they’re actually buried alive.

They remain alive under the surface in your ‘inner-life’ and manifest themselves physically, emotionally, and relationally. These icebergs then cause problems because we unwittingly steer our lives straight into them and suffer tragedy as a result. You may be resilient and you may think you can close off the flood chambers – but you’re not ‘unsinkable.’

The good news is that we don’t have to be.

Sometimes we don’t deal with our icebergs because we think we’re too busy. Who has time for emotions, especially related to things that happened a long time ago?

Other times, we’re actually afraid of what we might find below the waterline.

These are legitimate feelings, but we shouldn’t let them dissuade us from evaluating our icebergs and getting to the center of our inner-lives.  While doing so may be uncomfortable, it’s less uncomfortable (and less frustrating) than dealing with the results of running into the iceberg later.

What’s more, there is help available: For many, a mentor will suffice. I constantly recommend developing a ‘Personal Board of Directors’ and have written a fairly comprehensive guide to doing exactly that.

But you may also want to consider professional counseling, as well.  Don’t let negative connotations stemming from pop culture’s portrayal of Freudian psychoanalysis fool you – psychotherapy is for people who appreciate the tangible need to be self-aware. What’s more, if you adhere to a particular faith tradition, it’s likely you can find a good clinician with similar beliefs and clinical expertise. My lovely wife is one such example, and I am extremely proud of the life-changing guidance she provides to her clients.

Whatever your approach, it’s important to recognize that you can deal with your icebergs in a healthy way.

You don’t have to be ‘unsinkable’ and you don’t have to ‘sink.’

Leave a Comment: What are you mad about? Sad about? Anxious about? Glad about?

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