si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Category: self-improvement

Secret Anger

My family has a bit of a history with anger.

Nothing too awful but the men on Dad’s side (and myself) are definitely of the work hard, play hard, kick ass and don’t take any bullshit variety.

For years growing up I genuinely thought I never really got angry.

Well (so I thought), I did get angry, REALLY angry, but only once every few years.

The worst extent of this anger was twice ever, about a decade apart, I’ve punched a wall. I don’t recommend it. It’s more than a little stupid.

Fortunately the last time I did this was about 15 years ago, and I haven’t come remotely close since.

So anyway, I’d always seen THAT as “angry”, but other than that I thought of myself as fairly chilled (ha ha, oh boy).

It’s taken a lot of healing but I can see things a lot more clearly now.

See, I might not have been punching walls, but I was still angry, and I mean ANGRY angry. Pretty much all of the time.

Looking back, I can see that many of my long suffering girlfriends (and my family) walked on egg shells so as not to upset me. (Yes, I have gone back and apologised to several of my exes for this).

How did I not see it at the time?

It was only after I’d got rid of the vast majority of this anger that I could see it for what it truly was.

Turns out, humans lie to themselves. A lot. Not intentionally, but we all do. Nobody wants to feel like a bad guy.

In this case, what was actually anger I had about a thousand euphemisms for:

  • Being annoyed
  • Being irritated
  • Being moody
  • Pissing me off
  • Getting up my nose
  • Someone being fucking retarded (and no, I didn’t mean mentally handicapped)
  • Stupidity
  • Being fucked off
  • Bugging me
  • Bothering me
  • Them being morons (of course, it’s always them, right?)
  • Irking me
  • … and so on

All of these, in hindsight, were me being angry.

The trouble is, if what you consider real anger involves punching a wall, then merely spewing invective for a few hours doesn’t even register.

Interestingly, most of these come back to wanting control (ie feeling out of control). Someone didn’t behave the way I’d want them to, and I’d get angry.

Of course, it’s much easier to see the small stuff once you’ve got rid of the big stuff.

This week I noticed a new variation.

“Things getting under my skin.”

Subtle, very subtle.

I may not be screaming about whatever-it-is, but I can definitely feel my energy shifting.

I’m slightly tenser than usual and my thoughts are overly focused on the issue.

Not the end of the world by any means, but since I’m fully committed to dropping ALL non-loving thoughts, this has to go too. Yes, I realise that’s an ambitious goal, but it’s worth aiming for. Every step improves my life and that of those around me.

The way I figure it, if you’re automatically thinking about something you don’t enjoy? There’s something there worth looking at.

Ultimately, anger is something that is primarily detrimental to the person feeling it.

We often delude ourselves that anger can propel us into positive action – but the same action taken from a place of love is always far more effective. Even if the correct response is punching someone in the face (which I also don’t recommend), any tension in your body will radically reduce the power and speed of your punch. I’m serious.

Same goes for everything.

As the old saying goes – being angry is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Even this deep, subtle, secret anger is worth rooting out and removing, if you genuinely want a long, peaceful, happy life.


    I’m The Boss

    I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s always worth a reminder.

    Ever heard of the concept “monkey mind“?

    It comes from meditation (in various eastern traditions).

    The basic image is this:

    Learning to meditate is like learning to train a monkey to sit still.

    Our mind IS that monkey.

    So, to start with our delightful little monkey is hopping around the room, scratching its arse, and so on. You know, all the usual monkey shenanigans.

    We gently and lovingly bring it back to sitting on a certain spot. It sits still for a few seconds, then jumps up again.

    Each time, we lovingly bring it back to the spot, and get it to quieten down. Each time, it stays sitting for slightly longer.

    There’s no point in getting angry at it, or impatient – it’s just a monkey. We stay patient, stay loving, but persist.

    And this is how we train our minds to meditate.

    Another (slightly more boring) description for this might be “learning self discipline.”

    Now, there are a few tricks that can help here.

    For example, if you’re trying to develop a habit, don’t make it something you have to choose to do every day, make a choice once and stick with that.

    I’ll give you an example.

    When I was training Aikido regularly, I would go to EVERY training session.

    It could be 6am and so cold we trained in hats and gloves; I’d go.
    It could be pouring with rain (we trained outside); I’d go.
    It could be 42 degrees C; I’d go.


    Because I knew if I had to make a choice every day whether to go or not, I’d be weak. If I was feeling down, or hung over, or tired, I wouldn’t go.

    If I made that decision ONCE, and never questioned it, then it would never be a matter of self discipline or having to choose – it was simply “something I always did.”

    I’m a fan of January experiments. Rather than New Year’s resolutions, I just try something for January.

    So, whatever I’ve decided, I’m just doing it for that month. No questions, no choices, I just am.

    Therefore, I never have to make another decision (during January).

    Eg, one year I read a book a day, every day. One year I ate nothing but raw vegan food (which was so awesome I ended up doing it the whole year). This year I’ve done no caffeine.

    By making one decision, rather than 31, it makes the whole thing much easier on me.

    You can ALSO use EFT to radically reduce the amount of repetition required to learn a new habit. First tap OUT what you’re currently doing. Then tap IN the new behaviour you want. It works a treat – that’s how I passed my first major Aikido grading.

    But let’s get back to our monkey.

    Some things you simply can’t side step with the “one decision” approach. Eg, learning to meditate. Or to be kind to ourselves.

    In these situations, we really do have to constantly (as much as we can remember) go back and repeat, and repeat and repeat the same action over and over until it sinks in.

    What are we ACTUALLY doing here?

    Yes, we’re training our monkey mind.

    We are also, in a very real sense, exerting our authority over ourselves.

    We’re reminding ourselves of the truth that “I’m the boss.”

    Remember how we’re not our mind, not our body and not our emotions?

    Well, when our thoughts or emotions start going haywire, this is when reminding ourselves that we’re the boss becomes super important.

    If we remind ourselves who’s in charge, it strengthens our power over those parts of ourselves that are causing problems.

    Every time we let go of a non loving thought, say, or relax and let go when we get upset by something, we’re strengthening our control over our monkey mind.

    We’re strengthening our authority over ourselves.

    We’re becoming MORE the boss of ourselves.

    And, like any muscle, the more we exercise it, the stronger we become.

    The stronger our self discipline. The more authority we create. The easier it becomes for us to retain control over ourselves and our situation.

    The more we remind ourselves that we’re the boss, the more true it will become.

    “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

    - Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor

    So. How do we do this?

    Typically the times when we need to remind ourselves of this (and thus train our monkey) is when our thoughts or emotions are off in the corner hooting ‘n hollering, scratching their metaphorical arses and flinging shit around.

    We are NOT our thoughts or emotions, so by stepping outside these for a moment, we can regain control.

    The simple act of reminding ourselves “I’m the boss” will often be enough to help calm us and help us drop whatever is bothering us.

    The usual suggestions apply, of tapping (if possible – or even just the chest point) will help damp our energy systems enormously, or releasing, if we’re slightly more in control.

    We can remember that our reaction is simply a picture, and drop that. As Viktor Frankl points out: “The last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” We may not control our external situation, but we always, always have control over our reactions to that situation.

    It may seem like an impossibly long road, but remember: every step is a step closer to our goal. Even tiny improvements each day will add up to huge shifts over time.

    Every time we remind ourselves, “I’m the boss”, it becomes a little more true, and we step ever closer to inner peace, where no-one and nothing bothers us.


      Assume People Are Good – For Your Sake, Not Theirs

      Before we even get into this, let’s do a thought experiment.

      Let’s pretend people are bad. They’re ignorant. They’re willfully nasty. They want to hurt you.

      So, say someone cuts you off in traffic. Why is that?

      • Because they’re selfish?
      • They don’t care if they kill you?
      • They’re rude?
      • They’re bad drivers?

      the list goes on.

      Now, how does that make you feel, experiencing that?

      1. Awful?
      2. Angry?
      3. Violent?
      4. All of the above?

      The truth is though – you have no proof of any of the above. It’s all assumption.

      And those assumptions have left you feeling crappy.

      Let’s look at this another way.

      Say you’ve just cut someone off, why did that happen?

      • You forgot to check your blind spot because you were distracted by work or the kids?
      • You were feeling crappy and not paying attention?
      • You were tired?
      • You just made an honest mistake?

      Notice how often we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt while assuming the worst in others.

      Of course, driving is only one example. We do this everywhere.

      Does our boyfriend actually hate us? Probably not. So why interpet what he says as if he does?

      It doesn’t help our relationship, and it makes us feel shitty.

      Are our workmates really conspiring against us? It’s highly unlikely.

      But when we’re suspicious we become moody, which makes people less likely to want to connect with us. Which may make them look like they’re conspiring, when really they’re just avoiding our crap. Hello! Self fulfilling prophecy!

      Really, we go around all day every day making assumptions about the behaviour of the people around us. Interpreting what we see to fill in gaps in our understanding of the world.

      So, if we’re going to make assumptions, why not make them in our favour?

      If instead of assuming people are bad (lazy, assholes, etc) we just assumed they were good, how would that work?

      • If we see them doing something wrong, we’ll assume they made a mistake
      • If they say something that could be interpreted as nasty, we’ll assume they just didn’t phrase it well
      • If something they say could be taken two ways, we’ll decide they meant the good way
      • If we see them not doing something, we won’t decide they’re lazy: just busy, or distracted, or forgetful

      All these things are more compassionate (which is always good), but here’s a more immediate benefit:

      They all make us feel better.

      And the bottom line is, who cares why they did something? Is that really any of our business? If we must know, we can always ask them. Radical, I know.

      In the meantime, we’ll just see the world as filled with fallible but well meaning humans.

      Good people.

      Much like ourselves.

      And all that anger and vitriol we generate when people don’t behave or talk the way we want them to will dissipate with it. After all, we’re not the boss of their lives; they are.

      It’s not our job to control or change the people around us, and the sooner we let go of thinking we need to, the happier we’ll be.

      We can start by adjusting one basic assumption and get more peaceful right away.




        How To Prevent Anxiety Attacks

        Anxiety attacks are horribly disempowering events. The good news is, you don’t have to suffer from them. You can minimise their effect on you, and yes, even prevent them.

        Anxiety attacks are commonly highlighted by the following symptoms:


        • shortness of breath (or hyperventilation)
        • chest pain
        • trembling
        • light headedness
        • heart palpitations
        • hot or cold flashes (or burning sensations)
        • sweating
        • nausea
        • feeling dizzy or faint


        • an urge to escape (the fight-or-flight reflex)
        • fear of losing control
        • feelings of unreality
        • feeling detached from oneself
        • irritability or restlessness
        • sense of impending death

        (et bloody cetera - don’t follow this link unless you want an instant case of hypochondria)

        Of course if you’re prone to anxiety attacks then experiencing any of these symptoms is likely to lead to the fear of having an attack, thus resulting in a feedback loop leading to.. you guessed it, a fully fledged panic attack.

        *sigh* this is, of course, not so helpful.

        On an energetic level all of the above can by summed up by this: our energy system is freaking out.

        Remember – everything in our system works in conjunction. It doesn’t matter what initially kicks off an anxiety attack, once it starts, EVERYTHING will go nuts – physical, mental, emotional and energetic.

        The good news is, this leads us to absolutely the most efficient way of dealing with any anxiety attack.

        This is something I’ve tested both on myself and many other people, and it invariably takes you from hyperventilating freak-out to completely calm and peaceful in a couple of minutes.

        In a word (well ok, an acronym)? EFT.

        So – a quick summary.

        Here are the points:


        [point 7 is actually an inch down and an inch across to either side of that point]

        First drink some water if possible (it helps when shoving energy around your body).

        Then simply tap 5-10 times on each point (much like tapping on keyboard or screen). Going through all the points, from the top down is called “one round” (coz you’ve gone all the way round – really folks, this isn’t rocket science).

        Generally when people are starting out with EFT, one common worry is “what do I say while I’m tapping?”

        If you’re having an anxiety attack, this is the easy bit.

        You don’t NEED to say anything. The energy is right near the surface (hence the freaking out), so it’s already primed to exit our system.

        The feelings have come up because they want to leave (in a manner of speaking). All we have to do is stop fighting, stop resisting, and let them go.

        In general, we only talk about things while tapping to keep our mind focused, or to talk through the issue. It may help us feel our way around the problem, but it’s not strictly necessary.

        I’ve tested EFT on anxiety attacks a ton of times, and doing even a couple of rounds will take you from completely freaking out to calm in as little as a few minutes.

        More usefully, it helps even if you’re not having a fully fledged attack.

        I have moments where I get a bit grumpy or a tad upset by what’s going on around me.

        A lot of the time I won’t even necessarily be able to put my finger on what exactly is bothering me so much.

        My girlfriend (bless her) sees when I’m getting a bit like this, sits on me and taps me.

        Pretty much everytime this happens, at the start I’m all “yeah yeah, whatever. I don’t fucking care. I don’t need this” (I’ll still let her, coz she’s smarter than I am) but after even 30 seconds of tapping I’m feeling better. After a couple of minutes I’ll be right back to my usual calm, happy self.

        So, if you feel things start to spiral, the single best thing you can do is lock yourself away somewhere and start tapping.

        If this isn’t possible (eg you’re somewhere public), either just rubbing/tapping on the sore point (point 7 above), or finger-tapping is a good way to get 80% of the effect without getting arrested in the process.

        One word of warning, if you’ve dived into a bathroom somewhere, try to be quiet, coz if anyone walks in, it’ll sound a bit like.. well.. *cough* you’re having the wrong kind of fun in there.

        I’ve saved the best till last though. Unlike other methods of dealing with anxiety attacks (eg, 5-2-5 breathing – breath into your stomach, hold for 5 secs, then again for 2 secs, then for 5 secs), using EFT actually HEALS the issue.

        What I mean by this is – not only does it calm you down super fast, but it also helps reduce (or removes completely) the likelihood of you freaking out in the same situation in the future.

        Better yet, you can pre-empt any attacks. If you know the kind of thing that stresses you out, you can tap on it at a time when you’re feeling calm.

        For example, I used this when speaking at a wedding a while back – just nicked off to the bathroom beforehand for a quick couple of rounds (ha ha, that sounds so bad). The important thing is, it drained all the excess energy away and left me super calm and cool. Worked a treat.

        If all this sounds too good to be true, I don’t blame you in the slightest. I felt exactly the same way when I first found EFT (and, frankly, a lot of the stuff I discuss on here, until I tested the hell out of it all).

        As always, don’t believe me. Check it for yourself.


          Don’t Believe A Word I Say

          We’re all on our own journeys.

          In one sense we’re all on the same journey – everyone wants approval (love). Everyone wants to be happy (at peace).

          But of course, we’re in vastly different places – in our lives; our growth; our paths; what we’re busy learning (or unlearning).

          We have enormously varying backgrounds. Past lives (if you believe in that sort of thing), upbringings, experiences, memories and traumas.

          Given all of the above, it’s hardly surprising that, as the saying goes, different strokes for different folks.

          To that end, what I’m doing here is simply sharing the fastest, deepest, most useful tools and realisations I’ve discovered on MY journey.

          Some you may find helpful. Others you may find complete hogwash. That’s ok too.

          Some of my very best tools I discovered and then simply wasn’t able to use for another couple of years.

          I wasn’t in the right place in my life where I could. I needed to grow more. Clear more. Learn more. Only once I was in a better place did those tools make perfect sense.

          On top of that, I can’t tell you what’s right for you. I can only tell you what’s worked well for me. Ultimately, you need to find your own answers. Get quiet, look inside yourself, and see what you need.

          So read around and see what resonates. Try things out to see what works for you, but keep listening inside. Always keep listening. Ultimately, only you know what’s right for you.


          • I’m The Boss
          • Assume People Are Good – For Your Sake, Not Theirs
          • How To Prevent Anxiety Attacks
          • Don’t Believe A Word I Say
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