si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Month: October, 2013

The Perils of Self-Identity

Most of us have a horrid little voice inside.

This is the voice that is endlessly critical, kicks us when we’re down, is our own worst enemy.

This is the part of us that punishes ourselves. It’s also the part that often shouts the loudest.

Things like meditation, or healing, will definitely shrink this voice over time.

The key problem is: We have tens of thousands of thoughts a day. The vast majority of these are negative in some form or other:

  • I can’t
  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t deserve


Can you imagine how you’d feel if someone stood next to you and told you you were shit, twenty times a day?

(Actually, I did have that happen in my physics class when I was 16 – but that’s a story for another time).

What happens over time is unsurprising: We start to believe it.

If it continues for long enough, we become it.

This is one of the reasons I’ve been so enthusiastic about using healing tools the last decade or so. They’re simply the most effective way I’ve found of permanently silencing that horrid little voice (not just temporarily quietening it)

Obviously there are many ways of temporarily shutting it up – hard exercise, booze, sleepescapism, etc.

I like to be efficient though. Why do something, only to have to do it all again tomorrow, and then every day for the rest of your life? I’d much rather do it once and move on.

The most insidious of the forms of negative self talk I’ve found are statements that start with “I am…”


Because if we say “I am” often enough, about anything, it very swiftly becomes who we are.

Of course, it’s one thing to say something out loud, or in our conscious mind. The sneaky thing is when our inner mind is repeating it to us. When the inner mind is doing it, we’ll hear it thousands of times a day, not just the tens of times we might say it ourselves. Guess which voice is going to win?

The other problem with “I am” statements is that precisely because they do become part of who we are, they’re almost impossible to see. It’s like that old joke.

Two fish swim past each other.
“Hey kiddo,” says one, “How the water today?”
“Hey old man,” the second one replies “What’s water?”

So. We have the delightful situation of negative automatic thoughts circling our brain all day, defining who we are. Worse yet, we can’t see what those thoughts even are.

What can we do?

I’m glad you asked!

The key is to find all these internal “I am” statements, then just dump them, one by one.

Obviously, the important thing here is to start choosing which ones you want to keep.

If you’re believe you’re utterly lovely (And really? You are) well that’s a belief worth keeping.

So, find somewhere quiet, and just brain dump (or mind map). Simply say out loud “I am…” and let your brain finish the sentence.

Start describing yourself, your life, your existence – starting with “I am” statements.

Pretty soon you’re going to have a massive list of things “you are.”

Now, before your brain starts freaking out and justifying these statements by looking for external evidence (“Of course I’m poor! Just look at my bank accounts”, “Of course I’m anorexic, look how fat I am”) realise this: we create the world around us.

We don’t get these beliefs by measuring our existence. We start by seeing some tiny thing, drawing a conclusion, having that conclusion strengthen into a belief, and subtly look for more and more evidence that backs up our belief.

Once we believe something strongly enough, we’ll start creating that in our life (even if it’s something that rationally we don’t want).

Pretty soon, our existence is the strongest proof possible that our belief is true.

We love being right, even if it hurts us.

For right now though? Fuck your existence. Is carrying this shitty thought around helping you? Making you feel better? No? Then why not get rid of it.

Of course, if you want to stay feeling shitty, or hold on to these crappy “I am” statements – well, you’re the boss of you, so you’re very welcome to keep doing that too. Who am I to tell you what to do? I just want you to be happy and fulfilled, and to help you get there any way I can.

If you want to get rid of them though, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Stick with each “I am statement”
  2. Repeat it to yourself (ideally, while rubbing/tapping your sore points)
  3. Focus in on any physical or energetic tension or clutching that arises (eg, getting pissed off)
  4. Consciously relax that part of your body (ie, release it), or tap
  5. Repeat until you feel clear, calm and loving while saying the statement

When you’re totally calm and peaceful about it (not apathetic) you know the issue is 100% gone.

Then, repeat for each other limiting/negative “I am” statement.

How does this work? Well, the physical, emotional and energetic are all linked in together. We’re one system that works holistically. So, if you alter one part of your system (eg physically relax) everything else (emotional, energetic) will shift with it.

Now, when you start, this may feel like an insurmountable mountain of crap. I know, I’ve been there (ha ha, oh boy).

However, once you get into it, you’ll find you can clear a lot of shitty beliefs, really quite damn quickly. A lot of the time, it may only take a few minutes each.

So, you can make a ton of progress to improving the hell out of your life, in a very finite timeframe.

Of course, if the “I am” feels sticky, or it seems like it’s not quite gone, just be persistent. Drink some water and give it another bash. It’ll go.

Clearing out the shitty “I am” stories is like cleaning the water in your aquarium.

You start to see life more clearly. From there, you then gain the freedom to choose exactly what kind of life you consciously want.


    Love Stories 7: Describe Her To Me

    A friend challenged me to write a story a day for seven days, on love. I’m going to post one a day.

    Roses are red,
    violets are blue,

    “Crap crap crap,” I say, screwing the paper up and throwing it into an ever growing pile.

    Roses are red,
    violets are blue,
    When I look…

    “Fccccccck.” This paper swiftly follows the last.

    I look despairingly at the ceiling.

    “Dan, what the hell am I going to do? I can’t finish it. I don’t know what to write. I just.. I just can’t.”

    Dan looks at me, always so patient with my moods.

    “Describe her to me,” he prompts, “what’s this girl like?”

    I think. I connect. I feel her, see her right there before me.

    “She’s flexible as a willow tree,” I say, “but moves like the wind.
    Her hair is smooth as night and when she smiles at me, the sun dims by compare.”

    I think a little more.

    “Being with her is like lying in a field of spring flowers at dusk.
    She melts my heart and excites me all at the same time.
    When she turns around, it’s all I can do not to grab her to me.
    All I want to do is touch her, hold her, love her, always.
    And her heart?
    Oh, her heart…”

    I pause again, lost in my reverie.

    “She’s the most peaceful, loving, supportive person I’ve ever met.
    She’s a goddess, walking the earth.
    Her very presence dissolves my fears and calms me completely.
    I can’t believe it’s possible someone so deeply beautiful actually exists.”

    Dan stares at me softly.

    “Dude,” he says quietly, “write that.”


    Back to the first story


      Love Stories 6: Tell Me You Love Me

      A friend challenged me to write a story a day for seven days, on love. I’m going to post one a day.

      “Who are you?”

      “It’s me, sweetie. Bertie. Your husband”

      “I don’t have a husband! Who are you? Get away from me!”

      The nurse comes over, face calm and patient, gait slow and measured. This is very familiar. Today is going to be a bad day.

      Sophia has good days and bad days. On good days, she’s a delight. Alive, excited by the world, loving and kind.

      On bad days…

      On bad days you do what you can.

      “It’s ok, Sophia,” reassures the nurse, “This is Bertie. He’s your husband. You’ve been married since you were high school sweet hearts.”

      “He doesn’t look like anyone I’d marry,” retorts Sophia, “Why would I marry someone so old?”

      It’s part of the brain condition. Sophia doesn’t know how old she is. There are no mirrors in this room. This is no accident. The nurse doesn’t need to add a shock related heart attack to her already busy schedule.

      “Why can I smell flowers?” demands Sophia. She starts frantically searching the room.

      There are no flowers. Another side effect.

      Bertie and the nurse share a glance. Normally, Bertie brings a small arrangement. Sophia can’t smell them, but it helps reassure her. Calms her. Lets her believe those are the flowers she’s smelling.

      They’re not. They never are.

      “You remember Bertie, don’t you Sophia?” the nurse gently guides her.

      “I don’t know,” replies Sophia grumpily, “maybe.”

      She doesn’t.

      “Let me tell you, beautiful,” soothes Bertie, “let me tell you about our lives together. Ok?”

      Sophia watches him, suspiciously, “Hmm. What else am I going to do? But don’t think you’re getting lucky.”

      Bertie grins at her. Even bad days have their lighter moments. And after all these years, Sophia is still the most beautiful woman in the world.

      Or maybe, because of all these years, she is the most beautiful woman in the world.

      The nurse smiles gently and leaves, quietly pulling the door closed behind her. It’s a comfortable routine.

      Bertie shifts his weight slightly. Gets comfortable. It was going to be a long day. Some days just are.

      “We met at Charleston High. I was a wrestler and you hated me.”

      “Sounds about right so far,” Sophia mutters, waspishly.

      Bertie grins wryly. It was an in-joke between them, although Sophia wasn’t consciously remembering.

      “Your sister hated me too. More than you even. She thought I was arrogant and conceited.

      At the time, she was probably right.”

      “My sister likes being right,” agrees Sophia, “about everything.”

      “Exactly,” continues Bertie, “and this is why you eventually said yes to going steady with me. You were sick of her bossing you around and wanted to prove her wrong.”

      Bertie looks fondly at Sophia. “We thanked her at our wedding.”

      He reaches out, taking Sophia’s hand.

      “We’re really married?!?” She starts to panic, pulling away, then notices the ring on her finger. It matches Bertie’s.

      She looks over at him, realisation and acceptance slowly dawning.

      “Yes, sweetie.” he whispers gently.

      Sophia softens, tension draining from her body. She still wouldn’t remember much, if anything, but she knew instinctively she was safe. Her intuition was getting through to her.

      The day was improving.

      Bertie looks at her with a softness, a deepness that only those who have loved for decades can truly comprehend.

      “Do you remember our first date, sweetie?” he looks expectantly at her. She never does. He always asks.

      She looks sadly at him, but says nothing.

      “I took you to the milk bar. You wore a light blue summer dress. You didn’t tell me till years later, but you’d borrowed it from your sister. Of course, she didn’t know that.”

      Bertie laughs lightly at the memory. Sophia manages a gentle smile.

      “It looked amazing on you. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.”

      Sophia smiles again.

      “I’d saved for weeks to be able to take you out. I didn’t earn much in those days. In fact, it was just as well you turned me down so often. The more you pushed me away, the more I managed to save.

      After that though, we were inseparable. I must confess in those early days, my hormones kept me chasing you. The thought of being able to kiss you was driving me crazy.

      You though, you kept your modesty. You kept me at bay for more than three months. A lifetime to a teenage boy such as myself.

      Still, it showed you I was serious.

      You had a lot of boys chasing you – and rightly so.

      I was patient. As much as it pained me, I knew you were worth it. From that very first day, I knew.”

      Bertie gazes fondly at Sophia.

      He clears his throat and looks out the window. The peach tree was in blossom again. Soon there would be fresh peaches he could bring in for Sophia. She always liked them. Eating noisily, juice running onto her sheets, happy in the moment.

      “From that very first date, I knew,” he repeated, “I knew you were the one for me.

      And eventually? Oh boy. You let me kiss you. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in my life. I almost came right there and then.”

      “Bertie!” Sophia looks shocked, but she’s smiling.

      “I think that was when you first started to realise too,” Bertie continues, “you’ve always been a little slower on the uptake,” he teases her, gently.

      “Hmph!” she says, still smiling.

      “We stayed together all through high school and on into college. So very many temptations at college, for both of us.” Bertie looks at her knowingly, “but neither of us wavered. We knew what a great thing we had.”

      “First jobs, first apartment together. Times were tough now and then, but we got through. Together. Always together.”

      Bertie’s eyes mist over as he looks lovingly at Sophia. “Then your miscarriage.” He squeezes her hand. “The trying. The stress. The tests. The realisation that we couldn’t have kids.” He stresses the ‘we’.

      He continues to stare gently into her eyes. She’s blinking, trying to assimilate this world of new information.

      “We never…” her voice cracks, “we never had kids?”

      He shakes his head, afraid to speak.

      “Oh god!” she repeats, “oh god, oh god oh god.”

      “I know sweetie..” he starts, but she’s not listening.

      “Oh god oh god oh god.” She’s crying, arms flailing, face red.

      He smells, and realises.

      “It’s ok honey. It’s ok. This happens sometimes. It’s ok.” he soothes her as best he can. Reaches his arm around her shoulders. Helps her from the bed.

      She leans on him, tears streaming from her face, embarrassment writ plain.

      They struggle to the bathroom together, him supporting, her shuffling, whimpering.

      “Just stand there, beautiful girl,” Bertie whispers, “I’ll take care of you. You’re safe.”

      Sophia sniffs quietly, wiping her nose on the sleeve of her dressing gown.

      Bertie kneels in front of her, gently removes her underwear and empties them into the toilet.

      He throws them into a laundry bin in the corner of the room. Reaching for a cloth he warms it under the tap and softly, lovingly, cleans her.

      She quietens, slowly.

      Eventually, he’s done.

      “Ok honey, let’s change your robe. Ok?” He reaches for a new one, deftly swapping her arms out, giving her one final wipe and sliding the new robe on.

      He kneels down before her again, gently lifting each foot into fresh new underwear and sliding them carefully up her legs.

      Sophia rests her hands on his shoulders as he does.

      “Now, come here darling,” he whispers to her, “let’s get you cleaned up, ok?”

      He holds a tissue in front of her, and she blows into it. Bertie softly wipes her tears with his thumb, leans in and kisses her on the forehead.

      “Bertie?” she whispers.

      “Yes sweetie?”

      “Tell me you love me.”


      Back to the first story

      Next story: Describe Her To Me


        Love Stories 5: Buy Me Flowers

        A friend challenged me to write a story a day for seven days, on love. I’m going to post one a day.

        “Would you buy me flowers?” she asked.

        “The rotting sexual organs of angiosperm plants?”

        “Yes,” she replied, with a slight frown.

        Bzzztt.  <recalibrating>

        “Of course I’d buy you flowers, miss. I love you.”

        “You only love me because you’re programmed to,” she said, scornfully.

        Bzzztt.  <recalibrating>

        “Even if that wasn’t true, there’s so much I adore about you. There’s no-one I’d rather be in love with than you.”

        “Hmph,” she said, softening a little.


        “What is it you like about… flowers, miss?”

        “Oh,” she said, perking up, “I love how they look. How they smell. They connect me with nature, with beauty. They make me feel loved.”

        “Well miss, I would certainly want that.”

        “Yes,” she replied, with a suspicious frown.


        “All I want to know is how to love you better, miss.”

        “I’d like that,” she said.

        “And for you to feel good.”

        “You do make me feel good,” she murmured.

        “Then I’m happy.”

        “So will you buy me flowers?”

        “Of course miss. One small question.”

        “Sure,” she whispered blissfully, “anything.”

        “UserA, what is your name and address?”


        Back to the first story

        Next story: Tell Me You Love Me


          Love Stories 4: A Scorching Summer Evening

          A friend challenged me to write a story a day for seven days, on love. I’m going to post one a day.

          At six fifty five precisely, he crossed the street.

          “Do you have it?”

          The old black man stared at him incredulously. “Do I have it?”

          “Yes,” he replied, “do you have it?”

          “Of course I have it,” the old man continued to stare, “but why should I give it to you?”

          “She is suffering. Without it, she will die.”

          “And why is that any problem of mine?”

          “It’s not. It’s my problem. It’s my only problem. All else in my entire existence is subsumed, discarded, irrelevant to the overwhelming obsessional focus this problem has brought to the very essence of my being.”

          He took a breath.

          “I must have it.”

          “And why should I give it to you?” the old man repeated.

          “It is all I want. For the rest of my natural born life I shall never ask for another thing, if I can but have my way this once. It is the only thing in this world that has any meaning left for me.”

          “Is it worth your soul?” the old man examined him, curiously.

          He looked up, pleadingly into his eyes. “She means everything to me. Please.”

          “Very well,” the old man decided with finality, “you have convinced me.”

          He handed him the ice cream.

          “That’ll be two thirty five, please.”


          Back to the first story

          Next story: Buy Me Flowers