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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: Worry worry worry

Wow. So this is number fourteen in a series that has grown way bigger that anything I’d planned on (the original set-up was a six-post series, feel free to laugh at me).

On the surface, we’re talking about taking the scary out of blogging, but really we’re talking about patterns and habits and the art of “working on your stuff”.

So … you really don’t have to have a blog (or even care) to pick up something useful.

And if you’d like to catch up (you don’t have to), the rest of the posts are 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.

Four different reader questions today, each dealing with a slightly different flavor of worry, anxiety and what-iffery.

And, as always, I’ll remind you that whatever is worrying you is legitimate. Anxiety? Natural, normal and completely human. You’re allowed to have it.

Worries. Lots and lots of worries.

“How can I come up with a witty lesson every day?”

Gah! Oh no! A witty lesson every day?

Now I’m feeling anxious too!

On second thought, though, that kind of sounds like a big, horrible Should to me.

And I seem to remember someone smart (probably me) saying at some point:

“There are no shoulds in blogging!”

You definitely don’t need to post every day. And really, only about one in fourteen posts needs a witty lesson!*

*Tee hee! I just gave a witty lesson! Okay, it wasn’t really that witty. Never mind. I will now hang my head in shame.

Seriously, not every post has to teach something or make some profound point.

I tend to find the “Hi, I’m an expert and this is all I ever talk about” blogs to be pretty dull, as a rule. Sometimes you just want to hang out with someone and not have to learn Something Important.

Forget the witty lessons. Sometimes they’ll show up by themselves. But you definitely don’t have to go out and look for them.

And posting every day? Only if you’re a masochist.

Or, if you’re me. But as I say every single Tuesday, I treat blogging as … therapy you don’t have to pay for.

So yeah, I write five or six posts a week. But that’s because the process of writing stuff down is good for my soul. Don’t use me as an example for anything!

“What if whatever I say is useless and unentertaining, and nobody reads it?”

Okay, I’m taking this as a two-part question. Because what if it’s useless and unentertaining is actually completely unconnected to what if nobody reads it.

Well … what if it is useless and unentertaining? Let’s pretend it is. What does that have to do with anything? There’s lots of useless, unentertaining crap out there that is beloved by millions.

Some of the most popular blogs that I know of bore me senseless.

Some of the most popular Twitter users I — personally — find to be bland, tiresome and yawn-worthy in every way. And don’t even get me started on music, television shows, film …

Anyway, it’s all a matter of taste. Which, I’m told, varies. Plenty of people find my stuff useless and unentertaining too, and that’s fine. Not my right people.

Lots of people happen to like useless, unentertaining, time-wasting irrelevance. If your stuff is that bad (or even just mediocre) too, you’ll do just fine. I’m not worried about you at all!

What if nobody reads it, though? That’s a different question.

There are close to a billion and a half internet users in the world. All you need is a teeny, tiny percentage of a percentage of them to find you and dig your useless, unentertaining style, and you’ll be fine.

Getting people to read is not about being interesting. It’s about strategy.

Are you on Twitter? Do you comment on other people’s blogs? Do you know of other places online where people write useless, unentertaining things in a similar vein to yours?

Maybe their followers are dying for some more useless, unentertaining writing that’s similar to what they already like. That’s where you come in!

And yes, best way to get people to read your blog is to be on Twitter. I try to say something useless and unentertaining there at least ten times a day.

“What if I don’t have an entertaining little voice that gives me the cute ‘come-hither’ wink?”

Okay, I’ll skip the “you don’t have to be entertaining” thing, since we’ve just covered that.

But yes, what if your voice doesn’t give you the cute come-hither wink? This is, I believe, a variation on writer’s block.

Which is almost always about fear, transition and internal conflict.

At the deepest level, though, it’s really about trust. About not trusting your voice. I wrote last week about finding your voice and why you don’t have to. Still good advice.

Anyway, I’d treat this like any other form of stuckness.

Give yourself permission to be where you are.

This is where I am right now … in this moment … not being winked at. Even though I’d love my perfect entertaining little voice to whistle at me lasciviously every single time I prance by, it’s not happening right now and baby, that’s how it is.

Then go be in your body. Take a walk. Dance around the room. Do five minutes of Shiva Nata to stimulate some new neural connections and launch an epiphany or two.

And then talk to your Shoulds again and tell them that yet again, they just aren’t helping. Even though they want to keep you safe so you won’t get disappointed, hurt or laughed off the internet, they’re actually keeping you paralyzed by fear.

And when you’re paralyzed by fear, you can’t do what you need to do to feel safe, supported and loved. So ask yourself for permission to take some steps to help yourself feel safe, supported and loved.

Because otherwise, what’s the point?

“What if I hate what I write?”

Hmm. That could happen.

You kind of can’t know until you try, right? Maybe you will hate some of it.

Nothing wrong with that. I mean, it’s not fun. But pretty normal. Happens to the best of us. And you’re allowed to hate it.

I often hate stuff I write. Usually I let it sit for a few days. And by then I’ve usually figured out what’s going on with the hate.

Sometimes it’s that I’m feeling too vulnerable. Other times it’s because I’m trying to make too many points at once and I’ve gotten myself all mixed up.

So then I have Selma read it, which doesn’t help because she likes everything.

And I have my gentleman friend read it, which does help because he usually points out that if I just delete a couple of meandering paragraphs, it turns out that it’s actually pretty good.

But my guess is that this isn’t really what’s worrying you.

To me it sounds like you’re feeling anxious that some of your old, stuck, fear-of-success patterns of “what if I do X and I still don’t like myself” will show up.

And they might. Because blogging is a reflection of the self-work process. Your stuff will come up.

The good part is that writing is healing. Which means that the very act of documenting and interacting with this process will help you learn from that stuff.

And learning from said stuff is way more useful than having it just become another reminder of how miserable everything is right now.

So I’d say, take your time with it. Remind yourself that you don’t need to publish everything. You can let stuff sit and percolate.

Blogging doesn’t have to become another place where you castigate yourself for being you. But yeah, when we’re not careful, sometimes it happens. And then you catch yourself.

And you give yourself some attention. And some love, if you can stand to have some.

That’s it for now!

I was going to wrap this up with some possibly-wise words about meeting the fear and allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling and so on. But you guys are bright enough to connect the dots so I’ll refrain.

Tomorrow (gott sei dank) is Wednesday, which means some goofiness. And Thursday Selma and I will be answering a flood of questions about At The Kitchen Table.

And yeah, more Blogging Therapy next week. Because there’s a lot of it. Internet hug to you, in the meantime.

19 Responses to Blogging Therapy: Worry worry worry

  1. Joely Black says:

    Douglas Adams wrote a trilogy with five books in it, so I think you’re in great company when it comes to planning on one set of things and ending up doing so much more. It’s all incredibly valuable.

    Joely Blacks last blog post..The things I did while I was procrastinating

  2. I’m working on letting worry be there, but just not paying attention to it. I think it needs to be there to keep me improving, yet I don’t need to focus on it.

    Amy Mommaertss last blog post..Quotes I Love

  3. JoVE says:

    It’s funny but one of the homeschooling blogs I read had a long reflection on why blog, complete with worries that she was boring people to death (she’s been posting a lot about Kant, Descartes and other philosophers, along with some Catholic theology, and then some day in the life stuff). And she also noted that she worries both that people WILL read and that will affect how she writes (and its therapeutic value) and that they WON’T read. Although in a completely different world from folks here, her post might be a good companion to this one, just to see how that blogging as therapy or blogging as a way to think things through works. (http://everywakinghour.blogspot.com/2009/01/thinking-about-blogging.html)

    And the 6 posts turning into 14+ thing is just evidence that the road is more important than the goal. When you start on the road, you might think you are going one place, but once you get on it, you discover all kinds of things you didn’t even know existed beforehand. This is not faulty planning. It is just part of the fact that until you get on the road, you can’t know all the possibilities that road offers. This particular road seems to be offering all kinds of great possibilities.

    JoVEs last blog post..And now for some light relief

  4. Pam says:

    I don’t blog about anything in particular. I’m not sure if this is only for bloggers that blog for their jobs, or just for anyone… I’m following along though and getting tips. And I have been getting a great deal of encouragement from this series, even if, as a non-commercial/personal blogger its not really for me… I will take it because I really NEED more encouragement and less “attacks” during this process… :)

    Pams last blog post..a new year, a new life, a new outlook

  5. Writing is so hard. Your monitor might as well be a mirror. To add doing it in PUBLIC was overwhelming for me. But still kinda fun. :)

    The coolest thing for me so far about my little blog is the change in my attitude about commenting on other people’s blogs. Pre-blog, I always commented and talked to people, and I always felt like I was a part of the conversation, but now, with my little trackback, I feel like I’m contributing somehow. It’s like, “Lookie! I have stuff to say, too! Even if you don’t want to hear it, that’s cool, b/c the important part is that I’m saying it. Even if it’s just for me.”

    Diane Whiddon-Browns last blog post..Plotting vs. Pantsing

  6. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    Thanks, guys!

    @Joely – I find that enormously reassuring. If Douglas Adams can do it, I can too. Well, not like him. But you know …

    @Amy – That’s so great that you’re letting it be there. BEAUTIFUL. And hard. And beautiful.

    I’m feeling the urge to ask your worry an annoying coach-ey question, so feel free to ignore it. But am wondering …

    Is that the only way to keep Amy improving? I mean, is it possible that there are other things that don’t feel like worry that could serve that purpose?

    I come from a long line of worriers who would absolutely disagree with me here, because they 100% believe that worry is a vital part of not screwing things up, but lately I’ve been inclined to think that I can replace this worry with something a bit nicer that holds the same intention.

    Easier said than done, obviously, since – like I said – I was raised by worrying professionals. Gah. Worry. :)

    @Pam – Oh, that’s wonderful. Hooray for less “attacks”.

    And yes, absolutely anyone. I think this stuff holds for all forms of blogging. I have a lot of readers who blog to promote their businesses, but the principles hold for all of it.

    So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s totally for you. It’s for anyone who craves reassurance and support and a little kindness instead of the usual “7 Things You’re Doing Wrong” and “8 Ways You’re Stupidly Alienating Everyone” and so on.

    If it’s helping, it’s for you. And I’m always looking for a nice personal blog to read, so hi!

  7. Stacie says:

    I *love* this series, so count me in the camp that is seriously thankful that your six-parter has turned into fourteen plus!

    I’m definitely worried that I will turn out to bore the socks off even myself, but I’m working on giving myself the space to be that boring ol’ self on the off-chance that maybe I’m not wholly sleep-inducing.

    And as I read your comment, Diane, I noticed something interesting. For me the Blogging Therapy stuff has helped me with a sort of smallerish move – i.e., the move from being a silent blog reader (lurker?) to a blog commenter… and for me, that’s a BIG step! In fact, this is my very first comment on Havi’s blog! For so long I’ve worried that I have nothing worthwhile to add to the conversation, and although I’m not yet positive that I do have much worthwhile to add, I’ve decided to try it out anyway. So, maybe someday soon (with a little more blogging therapy), I’ll make the leap that you did – from blog commenter to blogGER (talk about biggifying! hee).

  8. Havi,

    My worry says, “It’s not the only way to improve Amy”, but, she’s trying to work on other ways.

    I’m a bottler and a stresser (got it from Dad). I worry, fuss, stress, plan, figure, stress some more, and then at some point down the road Scott could say something perfectly innocent (or sometimes not)and I blow with all the intensity of the disaster at Pompei.

    I had a bit of worry last September. After a multitude of tests I really never want to experience again, the Dr said I have an ulcer. He said even though they can prove other reasons (like a bacteria, etc), he still believes the main reason is stress….and to reduce mine. Our bodies can fight off alot of things…but not when the rest of us reenacting the build up and blow of a volcano.

    I decided to make some changes….though, it really hasn’t been too productive with things that have happened last month, etc. My bottle of Nexium is my best friend yet, but I only want that to be a temporary fix, not a permanent one.

    PS… That wasn’t an “annoying coach-ey question”. :)

    Amy Mommaertss last blog post..Quotes I Love

  9. Yooper says:

    Havi,

    I have written some things, and they are currently percolating…I took the holidays off from everything…except posting on forums and blogs, and twitter…that’s just fun!

    I have some ideas coming around…but me NOT writing (or writing, but not posting) is bringing up stuff…yeah and the a little worry…hey that’s normal, so that’s cool.

    THANKS! again for the great therapy session! See you on twitter.

  10. Claire
    Twitter: catskittyns
    says:

    Hi Havi: This series is totally relevant to me even tho the blog I intend to have will be a personal one, and not anything related to the paid work that I do. What’s changed since I started following your blog is that I’ve published a handful of poems and started participating in forums which (hopefully) will allow me to connect with like-minded people. You have definitely inspired me to be less afraid of revealing my inner voice. Hats off to you & Selma!

  11. Janet Bailey
    Twitter: janetbailey
    says:

    Oh oh oh! Love all of this, but especially: If my blog turns out to be useless and unentertaining, all I have to do is find my useless, unentertaining tribe! PROJECT! xo

  12. Julia R says:

    True story: I used to think only my mother read my blog. Then this nice gentleman named Jim (a pastor in a rural Indiana community) e-befriended me, I think because I write prayers occasionally on my site.

    His replies started popping up on my Twitter page. He added me to his blogroll. And I knew he was really a smitten kitten when he Tweeted me one day to randomly say, “One of the things I like about you is your joie d’vie. Your blog breathes life.”

    So there you have it — how one random pastor whom I never would have connected with otherwise validated my voice, my mission, and Havi’s excellent point that there is always *someone* out there who will love and benefit from your work.

    Do I/will I have a million readers? Not unless hell freezes over. But I don’t need to have a million, and neither do you, new bloggers. Just find your Jim, and the rest will follow! :D

    Julia Rs last blog post..How nonprofits can rock social media in 2009

  13. Is the italicized “pick up something useful” a hypnotic suggestion? Anyway, if it was, it seems to have worked, because this was good moral support. Thanks.

    Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coachings last blog post..Productivity From Within — New E-Book!

  14. @Stacie – I love your comment! And I have so much fun talking to you on Twitter. You want to hear something weird? I was actually a lot more nervous about talking on Twitter than commenting on a blog! 140 characters? Have you read my blog? I totally ramble. What am I supposed to say in three sentences?

    You know what? It doesn’t matter. You’re absolutely right to give yourself room to be whoever you are. Honestly, I’m working on that, too. Hoping my blog will help me with that.

    Jump in when you’re ready, and be sure to let me know. I’ll come by for a virtual visit.

    Diane Whiddon-Browns last blog post..Plotting vs. Pantsing

  15. christy
    Twitter: twitchinggrey
    says:

    @Havi wrote, “And you give yourself some attention. And some love, if you can stand to have some.”

    That’s a tall order. And I don’t think I realized just how tall it was until you voiced it here.

    Shiva Nata may bring on the hot buttered revelations (don’t know, haven’t tried it yet), but so did this post.

    Thanks.

  16. […] looking for reasons to blog. Really making them up and getting support from Havi Brooks who has a blogging therapy series going which, when I read her posts (which is truly therapy for me), I come away with letting go of […]

  17. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    OKAY.

    Turns out that I’d already started a post on this (that’s how busy I am) and found some more stuff. Want it? I’ll mini-excerpt.

    What if whatever I say is useless, and unentertaining, and nobody reads it?
    What if it is? There are lots of blogs that are useless and unentertaining with a ton of traffic. You can get traffic for anything with strategy. And anyway, it’s always useful for someone.

    How can I come up with a witty lesson every day?
    Who says you need a witty lesson every day? Some people only give a witty lesson twice a week.

    And really, who says you need a witty lesson? Jenny the Bloggess NEVER has a lesson. She talks about random stuff in her head and gets 200 comments on every post.

    What if I don’t have an entertaining little voice that gives me the cute “come-hither” wink?
    Not a prerequisite for blogging. Just the curse of people like me.

    What if I hate what I write?
    Who is it for? Who is it REALLY for? If it helps your right people, who cares if you hate it? And if it helps you, that’s also good.

    Eventually you’ll get enough distance from your “ack, I’m a WRITER!?! stuff to recognize that it’s usually better than you think it is.

    I haven’t solved this one either because I also have VERY high standards that no one (including me) could possibly ever meet. But I’ve found that over time I’ve gotten more comfortable with reading my writing voice and seeing some progress both in how I write and how I relate to my writing.

    xoxo

  18. […] Havi wrote about this in a blogging therapy post on worrying. […]

  19. […] recently, I was reading a blog I like and she said a blog can be another way to hang out with someone. Which makes so much sense. So the […]

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