One of the university administrators asked us to “help out” at her daughter’s elementary school every month. They want us to share our “drama expertise” with the school’s drama class.
At this point you might ask yourself if Chuck and Laraine have much experience with drama. The answer is NO. But because we are Americans and Hollywood is in America, there is an assumption that we all must surely know how to act. Fortunately, we have drafted our fellow teacher, Judy Batschi, who DOES have drama experience to join us. We had a great experience our first time with the class.
Since we DO have experience with emotional literacy, we used that experience to help students learn how to show more emotion in their acting.
by Charles J. Chamberlain, co-founder Chamberlain Leadership Group LLC
We have worked with many clients over the past 10-11 years who have used our tools to overcome emotional issues, or to simply develop better emotional control and awareness in leadership roles. But as people gain more emotional literacy and increased ability to manage their emotions, the same two frustrating phenomena show up time and time again. Perhaps there are better words to describe these phenomena, but two metaphors do a great job in helping us visualize them.
Due to its buoyancy in denser sea water, an iceberg floats
with approximately 10% of its mass showing above the water and 90% submerged. When
we embark on a plan to understand behaviors and underlying emotions, we see a
similar pattern in ourselves and others. Only 10% of our emotional “mass” is
visible as conscious behaviors, vocalizations, and consciously controlled non-verbal
The remaining 90% of our emotional world is “submerged” beneath
our consciousness. But just because an emotion is below the surface doesn’t
mean it has no impact on us. To the contrary, because it is submerged, it has
even more power over us, especially if we continue to be consciously unaware of
it. This 90% carries significant weight as we form and maintain our identities,
create relationship habits, develop meaningful motivations, and navigate the
challenges of our lives.
The extent of our enjoyment of life and relationships is
largely determined by how well we understand and manage the entirety of our
emotional iceberg. Whether or not we are at ease in our lives or at “disease”
can be a function of how well we are managing the submerged portion of our
emotional existence. Submerged emotions can interact with our physical bodies
in unexpected and unwanted ways. They can come “out of nowhere” and affect our
verbal and non-verbal communication. They can cause illness. They can also
cause us to do things that don’t make sense to our rational minds. Have you
ever said, “I don’t know why I said that?” Or, “I don’t know why I did that?” Our
submerged emotions can be particularly sensitive to triggering stimuli, thrusting
us into “mysterious” episodes of despair or confusion, leaving us wondering, “Why
am I suddenly so upset, worried, or depressed?”
You could think of the self-directed tools we offer as scuba diving gear, allowing us to dive beneath the surface and explore the submerged 90%. And, like a scuba diver’s equipment, the emotional tools allow us to go as deep as we are comfortable going. No one is there to pressure us to go beyond our comfort level. If we want to stay just a few feet beneath the surface, we can do that. If we want to dive deeper, we can do that too. The tools allow us to gain an appreciation for the extent of our emotions, while at the same time working on specific areas of concern.
Emotional Leaky Roofs
Once we have discovered some tools to work on specific emotional areas, we often face another phenomenon we’ll call the “leaky roof” phenomenon. Anyone who has experienced a leak in the roof can relate to this dilemma: After a hard rain, you notice water coming through a small hole in the corner of your dining room. At first, you place a bucket under the hole to collect the water, then when the storm has subsided, you look for the source of the problem. It is unlikely, however, that the hole in the roof is directly above the hole in the ceiling. Water has a tendency to enter from one hole, travel many feet away along trusses and structures in the attic, and create another hole as it follows gravity. An inexperienced homeowner might patch the drywall in their ceiling, thinking they’ve fixed the problem. A later storm comes along and it becomes clear that the source of the problem is not where it appeared to be.
Likewise, in our work with people who come to us having
identified a specific issue, more often than not, “the issue” is not the real
issue. For instance, we’ve worked with people who have taken our anger
management classes in lieu of jail time. It is tempting to say, “I have a
problem with anger,” especially when a judge has confirmed that indeed you do
have a problem with anger. But in our anger management approach, we recognize
the fact that you probably do NOT have a problem with anger, but you most likely
have a problem with fear, guilt, confusion, or an array of other possible
This “leaky roof” dilemma appears everywhere. A man who can’t
control his spending is really struggling with depression. A woman who puts on
too much weight is really protecting herself from pain. A combative, rebellious
teenager is really overcome with grief. The examples are endless.
Using the tools we provide, a person can quickly test the emotional strength of a particular issue and decide if it is simply in the path of gravity, like water flowing to its lowest point, or if the issue itself is the source of the problem.
A clear understanding of both the extent and complexity of who
we are emotionally can help us be happier, more productive people.
For more information about the tools offered by Chamberlain Leadership Group LLC, contact us by clicking here.