the fearful iceberg


There are no shortage of blog posts and writings about fears, and how to over come fears. I am not sure there is a panacea to fear. In fact, fear protects us sometimes. A sense of fear triggers alarm bells in our survival instinct to preserve ourselves, to run from the situation or to fight it, or simply to freeze, especially if a grizzly bear is about to attack.

This topic of fear is fascinating. We all have them. We try to get rid of them, desensitize ourselves, ignore them, hide them under the carpet.

I want to face my fears – and use them.

This is my fear iceberg. Freud  gives a metaphor our conscious thoughts and behaviours as the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface, our subconscious thoughts and emotions and our unconscious feelings and assumptions are the motors that drive our overt behaviours. Research shows that the subconscious processes about 200 times more data than our consciousness. It’s a powerful driver.

The unconscious, is harder to measure, because some still question whether it exists. I believe it does, and that is where the root of my fears lie — tdeas that I have internalized over the last 35 years on earth. It could be seemingly innocent incidents that happened when I was 4 years old, such as an offhand remark some adult made to me that got stored into long term memory, and eventually filed into my unconsciousness as traumatic experience and fear. It is a mystery, I do not know how it works, I just know it does.

I drew a picture of my fears. This is Little Nochie – my overt behaviours of acting professional, disengaged, strong, and cached behind my mask. Subconsiously I believed that I needed to do things myself to show this strength, that I was inadequate.


In the shallow unconsciousness, I assumed that I was stupid and people would not like me if I disagreed with them, and I could not cry for others would find me weak. This was the gist of my feelings of inadequacy that consumed my energy and schedule.

All of these beliefs and assumptions were driven by fears that were so steeped into the unconsciousness that they rooted the iceberg onto the seabed. If you dug beneath it, it would be the core of lava of the center of earth.

It was my shadow, a term that Carl Jung used to describe the unconscious aspect of our personalities that our conscious egos do not want to admit. I was fearful of dependence, of intimacy, or abandonment. Most of all, I was afraid to be worthless. It would make living meaningless.

Then what would make life worth living? How would I decide for myself? How could I shake myself off from the shadows of the past, most of which I have created for myself?

I need to be me. So simple. So complex.

Good luck to me — and good luck to you on this meandering journey…

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.