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The Payoff: Control over emotional outbursts and a deeper seat of calm Have you ever experienced a really big emotional outburst, from which you walked away wondering, Where did that come from? If you answered yes, you're in good company. Almost everyone has at one time or another. The greater readiness to actualize the self in social situations is exemplified in the following quotation: I gained a great deal of self-confidence just by being a member of the group and being accepted by all of them. It seemed to me that by being frank about my feelings in the group meetings, I was accepted by all of the others. This carried over, to a great extent, to other situations. Now upon meeting new people, I'm just me without repressing things and feelings for fear that others might not understand. The idea that the process may be taken over and continued within one's self is an interesting one. A statement by a group member may clarify the meaning of this. There's something I find myself doing when I experience tensions outside the group. I find myself kind of verbalizing the feeling as I do in counseling, kind of reflecting back to myself my own feelings; Well, I think that what happened was, I sort of took over the process or internalized it, so to speak, of what goes on in a counseling situation. Maybe you're a queer woman, for example, and you had the familiar experience where the dude at the bar muscled in on your conversation with your girlfriend, hitting on her and ignoring you. The sexual/romantic dynamics between you and your date weren't seen and respected. Not only was the intrusion on your space angering, but it also made a statement that you weren't deemed attractive enough to even be noticed. Or maybe you felt it when a salesclerk asked the stylish white guy behind you if he needed help, obviously thinking you weren't important enough to warrant attention. Or maybe a bystander stopped you from administering emergency medical care to a hiker, not anticipating that a Woman of Color might actually be a trained health provider. Or maybe you were flipping through magazines in the waiting room and couldn't find anyone who looked remotely like you.

Back at the gym, I speak up. Hey, I'm not a woman. He's perplexed. However I explain it, he's not getting it. Here are a few choice ones from meQuilibrium members: I kicked a parking meter and yelled at the traffic cop who gave me a ticket for being two minutes past expiration. When the tech guy at the computer store told me it would take a week to fix my laptop, I burst into tears in the middle of the store--like, the loud, gulping kind of crying. I got a phone call from my son at school, asking me to pick him up because he wasn't feeling well, but I had to be in an important meeting in fifteen minutes. I went into a wild panic trying to figure out what to do. These supercharged eruptions happen when we unknowingly crash into iceberg beliefs: big beliefs we have about ourselves, our world, and our future. Today you're going to discover how to unearth your icebergs and reroute your thinking when you hit one to quiet the emotional storm. The Evolution of Icebergs We've talked a lot up until now about the impact of faulty thinking on our emotions. But what about the power of our beliefs? That helped me in other problems that were not necessarily expressed here. I'm beginning to feel that maybe it's not just the particular insights, but the process that underlies the insight that is so valuable. You feel permissive about your own feelings, you can reflect them, and that makes you sort of an independent individual. Or this statement by another member: Much of this understanding was achieved in therapy contacts and much more after the cessation of contacts when I internalized the habit of trying to consciously be aware of my real feelings -- an internalization of what went on in therapy. These statements indicate something of the feeling of change which is experienced by the participant in group therapy.

Whether this is an alteration in feeling only, or is correlated with other changes, these data do not disclose. In the verbatim protocols of group therapy sessions there are reported behavioral changes which are perhaps a more substantial basis for appraisal of change than the final summary statements. A kind of change that is most frequently observed is that the individual begins to perceive his world differently. Circumstances may not alter appreciably, but his perception of the situation and his behavior in the situation change. I try again and there's a tiny glint of understanding. He's a nice guy. This was just an out-of-his-realm experience. His coworker chimes in, offering me some words of support. This is good, I know, and better than I usually get. I appreciate being in the progressive bubble of Berkeley, California. But it's still not enough. I'm holding on to my hurt. Sorry, he says, flipping the screen to show his colleague and me that it says female, so it wasn't entirely his fault for assuming. Now I'm perplexed. You know, those bone-deep assumptions we have about how things should be. What happens if they're not accurate? The two founding fathers of cognitive therapy, Albert Ellis and Aaron Tim Beck, both noted that faulty assumptions can get in the way of our happiness, productivity, and overall experience of success in life. Ellis called these irrational beliefs, and Beck referred to them as underlying assumptions. In his work at the University of Pennsylvania, Andrew began to see that these beliefs acted much like icebergs, in that 99 percent of them lay hidden, and he and his colleagues named them as such. The tip of the iceberg was our conscious awareness, but the rest--our subconscious mind--was what was usually running the show.

Andrew and his colleagues developed a step-by-step system to help people get to the icebergs below the surface and, even more important, learn to navigate around them. That's what you're going to learn today. If an emotional surge is so powerful that it takes you by surprise, you're likely bumping up against an iceberg belief. Andrew explains that icebergs usually show up as rules about how we believe things should be and how we, and others, should behave. Here is an excerpt from a verbatim protocol which illustrates the point. Mr Flowers: An interesting thing happened to me the other day. I got a letter from my father. He writes beautiful letters, but my wife and I, we talked it over, and we thought that his feeling was a little unrealistic. He didn't seem really to understand our problems -- We always felt a little hostile to him for that -- writing in altruistic terms -- my wife was making a noble sacrifice going to work -- and things like that. The letter I got yesterday -- I read it through and thought, Gee, that's a swell letter. So I gave it to my wife to read. I said, Don't you think that's different? And she says, Come to think of it, I don't see any difference from the rest of them. Smith: You mean that the letters haven't changed? When I signed up there were three options: male, female, and not specified. I chose the last one. Of course, not specified doesn't acknowledge me, but at least it's better than having to choose male or female. I explain this and ask not to be categorized as female. I point out that even my driver's license doesn't say female. Under gender, there's an X, which signifies non-binary.

Ah, the guy says, that not specified' category is for staff only. <a href=''>The</a> system must have bumped you into female. <a href=''>Can</a> you change it? <a href=''>No,</a> we have onlymale' or `female' for members. For instance, The world should be fair or I need to be a perfect parent. Sometimes they are conditional, as in, If I can't do something my way, I won't do it at all. We begin to develop these rules from the time we're cognizant, which is basically birth. By the time we're ten years old, they're very strongly formulated. As adults, we don't even know we're still carrying them around; If we did stumble upon them somehow, we might laugh at how outdated they sound, but it's as though that memo didn't make the rounds to every department in our grown-up brains. ICEBERG BELIEFS: Big beliefs we have about ourselves, our world, and our future; Let's say, as the oldest of six siblings, you developed the belief that I need to always be in charge or things will go wrong. It sounds silly when you say it out loud, as though it can't possibly be true. But if you didn't believe it, you wouldn't be running yourself ragged trying to control everything. Mr Flowers: Evidently, they haven't. I looked over it again and it did seem to be the same thing, but I extracted from it a feeling of interest, that's all. Mr Arnold: Well, I had something very much the same -- I realize that I feel different in my relation to my father and mother and that, uh, actually no change, or very little change, has taken place in them, since my feelings have changed. The change has been almost entirely in my department. Having spent part of the week end with them, I was able to look things over, and they're pretty much the same. But I can respond to them differently.