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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

Blogging Therapy: Finding your safe space.

Blogging, man. It’s hard enough without having to worry about getting squished between the pressure to “be yourself” and the pressure to “be like everyone else”.

Stupid experts! Contradicting themselves! Gah.

Oh, it’s Tuesday again. Again! Which means it’s time for the latest installment — number sixteen — in our ever-lengthening Blogging Therapy series.

Which is kind of about blogging and mostly about working on stuckified patterns and giving them some love.

You don’t need to have a blog or be a writer to be here. Or care about the world of blog.

And you definitely don’t have to have read the other posts in the series. Though if you’d ever like to, they’re right here:

Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
Part 4. What do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Part 5. Help! Perfectionism! Gaaaaak!
Part 6. But I’m not an EXPERT!
Part 7. Don’t make me be vulnerable!
Part 8. I just don’t have the time!
Part 9. What if someone READS what I wrote?
Part 10. But I’ll never be popular!
Part 11. De-shouldifying.
Part 12. A bunch of questions.
Part 13. Finding your voice.
Part 14. Worry. Worry. Worry.
Part 15. Learn from my mistakes.

Whew. That list is getting kind of insane.

Okay, on to some Useful Questions and a bit of philosophizing that totally has a point.

“How can I ‘be myself’ on my blog when I feel so much pressure to do what other people are doing or advising me to do?”

Here’s what happens when you do what everyone else does.

You stop being you. And whatever you were interested in starts losing its appeal.

Right now just about everyone is listening to the same experts … and they end up doing mostly the same thing.

The result being, of course, that most sites and experts sound exactly the same.

At this point in the game, not following expert advice is probably the smartest thing you can do.*

*We can talk more next week about why you shouldn’t listen to anyone, even me!

“But I want people to take me seriously.”

That makes sense. You’re saying you feel anxious that if you let too much of yourself into your writing, people will judge you or think it’s unprofessional? Is that right?

I get that. It is a pretty terrifying idea.

Here’s what I think. There are so many places we can get information online. There are so many people just giving it away.

Which means there’s choice like crazy. As someone who actively consumes information, I can get it from an absolutely mind-boggling variety of sources.

I could learn about stuff like marketing and copywriting from a gazillion different people. But I’d rather learn from Naomi because she’s my kind of nutjob. She’s super smart and outrageously funny.

And just kind of outrageous. Like, in general.

“Hmmmm. I don’t know.”

Will some people run away from Naomi as fast as possible? For sure. But the rest of us are devoted fans. Which means that she’s allowed to have fun in her business.

And really, if you can’t have fun, you might as well go back to (shudder) working in an office. Or, in my case, at a bar. Because you’re never getting me in an office.

Sorry, I got distracted by my rant.

Here’s the point:

The more you you are in your writing, the easier it is for your Right People to say yes to whatever you’re teaching or offering.

If your people can choose between an insane amount of experts (and they generally can), chances are they’ll go for the one who has a personality.

“But I don’t have an obnoxious curse-ey personality like Naomi or a kooky yoga lady personality like you and Selma.”

Good. That would be boring.

It’s much, much better if you can be yourself.

Having a personality (or letting one show) doesn’t mean you have to be loud or boisterous or goofy or anything, really. It just means that some of your you-ness gets to be present.

You’re giving it space to exist and to breathe and maybe even to thrive.

Again, you’re just making it easier for me to say yes to you if I can tell you’re different from the wall of experts.

Yeah, scary. And yet, being different from everyone else has done nothing but help me.

Even though everyone said that I shouldn’t tell anyone that my business partner is a duck because apparently that’s weird or something.

Resonance.

When you try to sound like everybody else, you’re not in resonance with yourself.

The energy is wrong. Something feels false. Cognitive dissonance like crazy. And people will pick up on it.

When you let yourself sound like it’s actually you, that’s where the resonance comes from.

Yay, resonance. And when you’re in resonance, everything you write will be interesting. And real.

And you know what? People will be drawn to that because a unique, authentic voice is just about the sexiest thing in the entire world.

Then, when the kind of people you actually like are showing up, and you’re feeling comfortable, you can start figuring out what they need to receive and what you need to give.

The main thing is that you’re feeling like it’s you. Sure, you don’t have the false safety of the biggified expert cloak.

You have something better than that.

Safety.

Obviously being all yourself and everything out loud is a scary and uncomfortable concept.

So you don’t want annoying buzzwords like “vulnerability” and “transparency” and “authenticity” to become Shoulds that bully you into exposing more than is comfortable.

It’s really about taking the time to notice, “Hey, I’m needing to feel safe and supported here. What can I do that will help me access some of that safety without having to wall myself off in boring expert-ness?”

Because yeah, we don’t want you to end up being so protective of your true voice that you become some boring expert clone.

And at the same time, of course it’s important to feel safe and supported and loved. Everyone needs shelter sometimes.

Finding that safe space.

My wonderful friend Mark Silver talks about “veiling the Jewel” — the idea is that you uncover a beautiful quality that informs all your work and then you create a safe place for it.

I thought this was incredibly cheesy the first time I encountered it, but working with Mark’s stuff has been really transformative for me.

Anyway, the deal is that you want to let your unique Quality of fabulous you-ness shine enough so that your Right People can be drawn to it, but you also make sure you can veil it when you need to.

That way it’s not like you’re feeling so vulnerable and open that you can’t function. That’s safety.

Feeling safe is a big deal.

Creating structures and routines and rituals that help you feel secure is probably the smartest thing you can do in your business, if you have one, and for sure in every other part of your life.

So I’m not saying that you have to — tfu tfu tfu — be dragged kicking and screaming from your comfort zone. Heaven forbid.

I’m talking about creating a safe place from which you can speak your truth. Your truth to your people. The ones who are ready for it.

Another damn paradox.

So really the whole authenticity vs safety thing is kind of a false equation. There’s just no reason for it to be one or the other.

I’m convinced that the conscious practice of being yourself out loud — in small doses, paying attention to what comes up — can actually end up being the thing that helps you create that safe space for yourself.

How crazy is this? Your unique voice is its own form of protection.

So it’s a bit counter-intuitive, yeah, but there is also safety in being different.

There can be solace (and not just fear) in knowing that there isn’t anyone else saying what you’re saying in quite the way you’re saying it.

Sometimes — for me, at least — it feels as though I can even take comfort in the very act of setting up this space for me. For me.

There’s a lot of light in that space. There’s room to breathe. And there’s freedom in telling the experts where they can stick their expertise. Or at least whispering it inside your head.

Yeah, that’s our topic for next week.

That’s it.

Tomorrow, partly cloudy with a high chance of goofiness.

Next week we’ll be back to Blogging Therapy and a bit of a rant. Glad you’re here.

31 Responses to Blogging Therapy: Finding your safe space.

  1. Joely Black says:

    I have to say, no matter how difficult it is sometimes, it has really made a difference to me and how I feel about me to open up and be honest. I find the more raw I am the more understanding I find out there. This blogging course has created so many wonderful blogs and it’s a pleasure to read them all. It’s so much better to read blogs about real people doing real things than experts telling you what to do. Thank you.

    Joely Blacks last blog post..Cunningly weaving relevant political events into a post about Stuff

  2. christy
    Twitter: twitchinggrey
    says:

    Selma,

    Could you please ask Havi to remove the remote surveillance devices from my kitchen? Who does she think she is, Dick Cheney?! My SBH and I had this EXACT conversation last night. (thanks for not taking my side, btw … pbffft!)

    I surely hope change is coming … otherwise this convergence of “stuff” is going to drown me.

    christys last blog post..Rumi and President Obama

  3. 1. Yes. I agree. When confronted by me, running away is generally the best advice.

    2. Why do you get “kooky” and I get “obnoxious”? When is it your turn to be obnoxious and my turn to be kooky?

    Naomi Dunfords last blog post..Skip School and Learn What You Need to Know Instead

  4. Fabeku says:

    Good stuff. And timely too. It fits where I’m at and one facet of what I’m working through in trying to find my Right People. It’s like Selma laid a Vulcan Mind Meld on me or something. Whoa! Ducks rock.

  5. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    Duck Mind Meld!

    @Fabeku – I adore you. Still.

    @Naomi – Uh …. I believe you just answered your own question. TOUCHE.

    Oh wait, *now* I’m the obnoxious one.

    @Christy – That might be the funniest comment anyone’s ever left here.

    I wasn’t trying to take a side! I was trying to find a healthy midddle ground. Oh well. Sorry about that.

    @Joely – Right on. Thanks, sweetie.

  6. chris zydel
    Twitter: wildheartqueen
    says:

    All I can say is that this does work! Since I started coming here and working with you I have begun to be way more authentic on my blog by revealing stuff about myself and my process that I would have been way too ashamed to expose before. Partly it’s my training as a therapist where the focus is always supposed to be on the other person and it is NEVER supposed to be about you. Partly it’s trying too hard to be “professional” or wanting to be taken seriously or something crazy like that…..

    Anyway, the more open I am in my writing the more people feel included. And then they respond and interact and all those warm and fuzzy community type things that I have been wanting to have happen. And now it is happening!

    So cool! And I am also having WAAAAAAAAYYY more fun.

    Thanks darling. You are just the super duperest bestest at being a role model for being yourself and for helping us to do the same.

    chris zydels last blog post..The ART OF INNER CLUTTER CLEARING: MAKING ROOM FOR WHO YOU REALLY ARE

  7. Sociomaitri says:

    Well, in the name of authenticity and being uniquely me (whether boring or not), I’m linking my recently-started blog on a comment for the first time. This blogging therapy series has been a tremendous help in getting me here, so thanks Havi!

    @Naomi – I thought Havi was saying you were Kooky and that she was Obnoxious, but I probably read too fast :P

    @ChrisZydel – I was curious about how a therapist would navigate the (somewhat personal) blogging waters, so it’s nice to see that it’s being done.

    Sociomaitris last blog post..Habby Belated New Year! Honnnk!

  8. […] We don’t always run away from people.  Sometimes we run away from emotions that are too much to deal with at the time.  Sometimes we run away from writing, because writing is a mirror.  […]

  9. Wormy
    Twitter: SecretWormy
    says:

    Well seconding, thirding and fourthing all the comments here already – I completely agree. Letting the safeness develop until you feel happy being yourself is fantastic and it does seem to be that the more honest I am about what I’m going through, the more people respond to my blog.

    Sometimes I worry that people are going to think I’m a nut job and then I remember 1) I am a nut job, so they’d be right and that would be cool and 2) my blog is MY space so let them think what they want, it still remains my space.

    Lastly – whooo – you said “cognitive dissonance” which is just awesome.

    Wormys last blog post..Vulnerability + Intense Scrutiny = Heightened Sensitivity.

  10. @ Sociomaitri — Thank you. You and I are clearly kindred spirits.

    Naomi Dunfords last blog post..Skip School and Learn What You Need to Know Instead

  11. Sue says:

    Some of my best blog posts (and there aren’t many yet) are the ones that just flowed out and reflected the real me as opposed to what I think that others want me to be.
    Thanks again for the great posts.

    Sues last blog post..Energy Vampires Suck

  12. Emma Newman
    Twitter: emapocalyptic
    says:

    This was something I had to face up to this week. When I was feeling happy and optimistic, writing posts and letting other people see them was exciting and mostly non-scary. You liked them lots (that made me so happy!) and I had found a little group of writers and artists that I’m falling in love with and it all felt great.

    Then my mood changed, the clouds built and the posts stopped. I tried to write about stuff that was safe, but found that nothing happened at all. There was a blockage in the river and I had to clear it.

    So I posted up something that was oh so hard to let others see – I talked about being scared and icky. But those lovely people held me in their hands and reassured me that I hadn’t made a terrible mistake. I was truthful about the ugly bits of me, but I still felt safe.

    I wanted to tell you about this, not only because you’re the blog’s midwife, and I am learning how to do all this open stuff at your feet, but also because I’m wondering if making that safe space on my blog has started to make safe space within me too. In allowing myself to be vulnerable there, I gave permission to myself to be vulnerable full stop (I think you say ‘period’), instead of trying to battle on regardless. Arg, this is hard to express. But thanks for your advice and sageness on all this. It is greatly appreciated.

    Emma Newmans last blog post..Into the shadowy corners…

  13. […] Havi Brooks calls them your right people. […]

  14. […] have enough time to do it “properly” and that I would eventually abandon it. Reading Havi’s amazing Blog Therapy series got me over the hump and made me see that starting a blog could be a great tool for reaching my […]

  15. […] has written a wonderful series of articles about blogging and how to do it without terrifying your self.  Her basic idea, as I understand it, is that you […]

  16. […] in fact you might notice some of her writing style rubbing off on me! I particularly recommend her Blogging Therapy series if you’re looking for some great reading on many aspects of why you should blog but […]

  17. Owen Marcus says:

    Just came across your post – it is spot on. Hiding out sucks.

    Being outrageous is contagious. We all need to be outrageously ourselves. Thank you for laying out the challenge.

    Keep up the craziness!

    Owen Marcuss last blog post..Who’s Lead Do You Follow?

  18. […] I have been reading Havi’s blog (The Fluent Self) for about a year and a half since stumbling upon her Blogging Therapy series, which has sixteen parts to it.  You can see the list from this post. […]

  19. […] When someone says: But I’m scared shitlesss, I say: Go read Naomi’s What to Do When You’re Scared Shitless. Also read Havi’s Blogging Therapy series. […]

  20. KimBooSan
    Twitter: kimboo_york
    says:

    I’ve been enjoying reading your posts and love what you say and how you say it! This is the lesson I am trying to apply to my whole life, after years and years of trying to fit a right peg into a wrong hole:
    “When you try to sound like everybody else, you’re not in resonance with yourself.”

    Mostly just leaving a note to say thank you! <3

    ::::kbs

  21. […] putting-your-thing-out-there and acknowledging-the-scary, I learned from Havi. Specifically her Blogging Therapy series. Well, that and life and trial and lots of error. Share and […]

  22. […] at The Fluent Self has a great series of posts that address many of them. I highly recommend her Blogging Therapy. (The link is to the last in the series, but contains links to the whole […]

  23. […] When someone says: But I’m scared shitlesss, I say: Go read Naomi’s What to Do When You’re Scared Shitless. Also read Havi’s Blogging Therapy series. […]

  24. […] *Thank you, Havi Brooks at The Fluent Self!   See her awesome series, Blogging Therapy. […]

  25. […] not into the novel-esque “crisis-of-identity” type posts, I’d skip this one. Blogging is great free therapy, and it’s more about me writing than you […]

  26. […] until conditions are perfect.  Sound familiar?  I became empowered to post anyway by reading, the Blogging Therapy series by Havi Brooks.  Havi writes at http://www.thefluentself.com about how important it is to stop […]

  27. […] When someone says: But I’m scared shitlesss, I say: Go read Naomi’s What to Do When You’re Scared Shitless. Also read Havi’s Blogging Therapy series. […]

  28. […] Havi Brooks, The Fluent Self, Blogging Therapy series […]

  29. Benjamin says:

    Hey Havi, I’m a little late to this “party.”

    But was recommended by Jasmine in the PTribe and am digging this post. Got burned by sharing my heart a bit too much, and now creating boundaries.

    Best
    Benjamin recently posted… An Adventurous Review Of Adventure Underwear

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