si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Month: August, 2008

How Do You Suck?

I was talking with a good friend last night, and she mentioned that I was a great programmer. I found that a little surprising, as despite the unlikeliness of a lot of what I achieve, I don’t generally think of myself in this way.

pic by striatic

I’ve thought a lot more deeply about this since, and I’ve realised a few things – that apply to any area of skill.

People who are not-so-good in any area tend to look down the tree at those below them on the skill ladder – “Look! I’m better than all those people!”

People who are good in any area tend to look up the tree “See how much more I have to learn!”

This is also part of a natural continuum (great word!) of learning:

  1. unconscious incompetence (you don’t realise you suck)
  2. conscious incompetence (you realise you suck)
  3. unconscious competence (you don’t realise you don’t suck as much as you thought you did)
  4. conscious competence (you know you don’t suck – and why!)

For example, in Aikido I’m somewhere between step 2 & 3. I’m aware of how much I suck (the more deeply you learn, the more you can see that needs improvement) – but I don’t realise that I don’t suck in general (and am always a little surprised when someone points this out). This isn’t a negative self view, as much as a genuine desire to improve & a focus on this, rather than comparison with others.

Interestingly, I can very concretely remember a time when I genuinely believed I was awesome at Aikido. How wrong I was (in hindsight)!! *laugh*

The real trap, of course, is being aware of the dangers & massive difference between stage 1 & 3. Unwarranted ego-centricism is, after all, known as hubris, & we all know how dangerous the ego is, right kids?


    Are You In Love With Your Pain?

    A couple of years ago, when I first discovered EFT, it changed my life so much, so quickly, I immediately went around telling everyone I knew about it (Yes yes, I realise now how dopey & threatening this kind of behaviour is, I was just super excited)

    I remember one conversation particularly vividly. Telling a friend with dyslexia that she could get rid of it, if she wanted.

    Know what happened? She got angry. Yes, angry. Surprised the hell out of me.

    “Huh!” I remember thinking, “I guess being dyslexic is just really important to her.”

    Now here’s the funny part of the story. Remember that old saying “We hate most in others what we despise in ourselves?”.

    I was watching this incredibly informative video by Rozalind Gruben this morning, on Social & Emotional Aspects of Eating (45 mins in 5 chunks, but definitely worth finding time for). She talks about the abandonment & disapproval that we experience as children – as part of the way we’re culturally raised. About how we start to see ourselves as flawed, & identify with what we’re told by the people around us.

    .. and then it hit me


    I’ve spent my life – or at least, as much of it as I can remember – defining myself by my pain. My struggle. My misery. (Note the use of ‘My’ – a good sign it’s my ego talking)

    Ironically, my spiritual journey has been all about struggling to free myself from this self-imposed identity – that I’m miserable, in pain & suffering. Although I have been moving towards less struggle, less misery & less pain, it’s been damn hard work.

    Yes, I’m laughing as I write this. It’s all so obvious now!

    And yes, it’s been a struggle. Every key area of my life has been difficult.

    Well this is simply because I’ve wanted it this way. I’ve been in love with it. It’s been a part of who I am. Yes, my decision. Maybe not consciously, but still, my choice.

    The wonderful thing is that even just realising this has enabled me to change it. I was doing some tapping (EFT) this morning, and every time I went to tap on something, part of my brain just went “Peh, ok, that’s gone.” – before I could even get started.

    That struggle, that pain, doesn’t have to be part of who I am any more. I chose it for years, but, well, now I choose differently.


      Do We Ever Really Do Anything New?

      Or is it all just patterns, repeating over and over?

      As you may be aware, I recently went through a breakup. As I’ve been processing this, I’ve started to see, very clearly, how little of what happened with the ex was actually about her.

      I saw:

      • Patterns where she behaved identically to several different earlier relationships (in different ways) – Of course, this is me drawing this into my life so I can learn, it’s really nothing to do with her specifically at all.
      • Two different patterns from my father to me (ie, I was repeating his patterning with me, with her)

      Now, thankfully, I can go in (with EFT, or whatever) and stop those patterns – by going back to the earliest one I can think of, and then working forward through the recurrences, healing each one. This is, unsurprisingly, what I’ve done.

      However, combined with recent realisations on ancestors and how those patterns are passed down, I have to wonder – how many of these patterns are actually mine? Are they ALL just passed down from previous generations (or perhaps previous lives)? Am I living anything new at all?

      I mean, sure, I could eat toast with peanut butter & vegemite. Never done that before (Actually, I lie. As a kid I ate a lot of weird stuff with peanut butter).

      But in terms of emotional interactions. Negative events in my life. All these things seem to be just massive loops.

      I guess this is what the ancients talked about in terms of unwinding karma. You’ll keep repeating everything that has come before until you learn the lessons required, or heal the events away.

      The other thing to watch that is very interesting is that as those patterns are healed, you can visibly see those people who might cause that kind of pain in your life naturally being pushed away from you. Very organic, very “coincidental”, very “well, it just happened”. Once the patterning is healed the associated pain does in a very real sense simply stop recurring in your life. And yes, this is exactly why I broke up with my ex. Even more interesting is seeing how different the new people that come into your life now become. It is immediately obvious that they simply aren’t built to create those sorts of negative events (although, of course, they’re quite capable of creating any unresolved pain patterns).

      Highly amusingly, if you’re aggressively sorting through things (as I have been), you can watch this happen in realtime. Meet someone on Monday, event occurs on Wednesday, realise pattern & heal it Wednesday night, and they’re gone (along with any recurrence of that pattern, ever) on Thursday.

      If all this is true, then theoretically at least, I should have kids, so they can benefit from this – ie, by passing less junk down the ancestral tree. Maybe just for now I’ll have some theoretical kids instead.


        The Upside to Abusing Cacao

        Last night about 9pm I had a fruit salad. It was tasty. What wasn’t so clever was putting raw chocolate sauce on it (cacao powder, coconut oil, raw honey).

        I went to sleep around 1-1:30ish. At 3:30 I woke up, wide awake, and could NOT get back to sleep.

        Ok, so cacao late at night = bad idea. I’ll remember that. I’ve now been awake for 20 odd hours, and it doesn’t show signs of abating.

        One upside though, I got to watch the sunrise. Because of the incredible weather patterns over Melbourne – a combination of sea air, interesting landmass curvature, mountains and many thousand miles of desert air, all combining in one place – I got to see all this in the space of about an hour (click each pic for a bigger version):







        And oddly, after all that, it was actually quite a cloudy day. You can see this starting in the last shot. Amazing.

        I never get tired of watching nature at play.


          Healing Your Dreamtime

          Australian Aboriginals have a concept they call “Dreamtime” (or, more accurately “The Dreaming“). Very loosely speaking, this is the infinite spiritual cycle that parallels our reality, influencing & creating it. It created the world we live in, and continues to live on, in the present & the future.

          Now, what’s even more interesting is the reversal they have from how we view reality. In the west we believe that our waking life is our “real” (ie, objective) reality, whereas our dreaming life is only subjective. Aboriginals believe it’s the other way around. The Dreaming is what’s objective, and this experience we’re living in is only the subjective reflection of that.

          A mural thought used to teach Aboriginal children about dreamtime. Pic by Damian White

          Of course, there’s an enormous difference between the beliefs of the oldest living culture on the planet & us as individuals, however, let’s push ahead regardless & see what we can find. Here’s a dream I had yesterday:

          I’m hanging out with friends, in a movie theatre. Before the show starts there’s a comedian, a magician. He’s giving out CDs. He gives them to the row in front, then when he gets to my row, he does a sleight-of-hand trick to not-give them to me, and my friends. He then continues with the row behind, giving them out, and across the aisle. Then I notice they’re MY CD’s he’s giving out. A friend comes back to sit down, and her face is covered in some kind of drug or other (I have no idea). She has so much that she doesn’t care she’s covered in it. Then we all go out driving.

          So we end up out in the country. I muck about a bit, then end up on the phone with a good friend of mine from London. She’s complaining that I’m not working. There are spiders & very bizarre, but large, insects all over the floor. Another call comes in. It’s my Mum, & she wants to talk to my brother. They talk, then Mum hangs up, which somehow cuts me off from my friend. I ask my brother about it, but he doesn’t really know what’s going on.

          Just for the hell of it, let’s segue out of that, and pretend we didn’t see all the bolded bits.

          Now, let’s also pretend, for the sake of the discussion, that there is some relationship between our dreaming life & our waking life.

          There are many obvious pointers to this being true, of course. Our dreams often include people we know (friends, family), situations in our awareness while waking (stress at work, relationship problems, etc), and the visual metaphors commonly used have been interpreted for thousands of years to find satisfactorily explanatory parallels in our waking life.

          It’s a fairly common, although recent, psychological understanding that dreams are our brain’s way of “unwinding”. Chaotic signals occur in various bits of the brain, which is then interpreted into the images that we “see”. Loosely translated, it’s our brain “talking to us” using pictures.

          Ok, so we accept that our dreaming life is (in whatever way) a reflection of our waking lives. Now what?

          Well, if dreams are our brain’s way of talking to us, why not use them to talk back?

          Why not use that dreamtime to really, genuinely, just like the Aboriginals believe, affect our waking experience?

          So, you know, I’ve been doing this.

          Whenever I wake from a particularly vivid dream, I immediately heal (I use tapping & a few other things, but anything would do the trick) on anything that I felt strong emotion about. Doesn’t matter what the emotion is. Doesn’t matter how ludicrous the imagery. I don’t interpret anything. I’m talking back to my brain (maybe), or healing the dreamtime (maybe), but either way, I use exactly the imagery that’s been provided to me.

          I deliberately pretend that whatever I’ve dreamt is real. I relive it, feel it, as strongly as I can, and heal while doing so.

          So, in the above dream, all the bits in bold had strong emotions (some identifiable, some not) attached, so I healed on them. Pretty obviously, there’s feeling of deprivation, loss, self-recrimination, and so on – and, of course, similarly obvious parallels with those emotions in my own waking life.

          Much less obviously, all the bits that are bold cleared things. A lot of them. I still really have no idea what was healed, but it was definitely many, many things. Much of it lead spontaneously to much deeper issues I wasn’t aware of. More interestingly, all of it was surprising. I wasn’t aware that I was even thinking about any of this while I was awake.

          Now that I’ve healed I can definitely see, in hindsight, those thoughts & feelings I was having that I no longer am, that directly relate to things I healed on. Plus, of course, there’s a bunch of other stuff that I know has gone that I simply can’t put into words.

          I healed my dreamtime, and my waking life has changed, noticeably, significantly.

          I still haven’t answered the question, “Which is more real, dreamtime or waking life?” or even “Which is the objective, which the subjective?” Maybe I never will, but one thing I know for sure, those Aboriginals are definitely onto something. Even better, we don’t have to know or even care which is which to use it as a tool to significantly improve our lives, both dreaming and waking.

          I’ll tell you something else for free. Every single time I’ve healed a dream’s imagery, that dream has never come back.