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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.


Not a personal ad.

But maybe a preview?

Some of my clients and students and other Right People out there in the world are feeling … oh, conflicted.

They want (or mostly want) to be writing Very Personal Ads* but they aren’t. And can’t.

*The Very Personal Ads are a practice where we ask for something we want in order to get clarity on stuff and also to practice getting better at asking for things.

It’s a kind of … personal ad paralysis. And it makes sense.

As one of my students said:

“I’m definitely very drawn to the Personal Ads and I also keep pulling away.

It’s like, I want to ask for things (or to be able to ask for things) but it sets off all my stuck and anyway, I can’t even narrow any of this down enough to figure out what I actually need, you know?”

I get it. And I’m also thinking, maybe we can make this whole thing a little less hard.

How about we start with this?

Don’t write a personal ad.

Seriously. You don’t have to. I mean, you feel conflicted.

So right now if you were going to write a personal ad, it would be one that asked for the ability to not feel conflicted about writing personal ads.

You’re probably not going to do that because … uh, you feel conflicted. About writing personal ads.

Which is absolutely legitimate.

So, instead of writing a personal ad (or a personal ad for a personal ad), what if you wrote a non-personal non-ad?

Like this. You answer these three questions.

Except they aren’t actually questions so it’s really more like you finish these sentences.

Selma and I will do the exercise too, so you have an example to work with. Though if you don’t like the non-questions, you can totally rewrite those too.

Non-personal-ad non-question #1:

Even though I don’t know what I would even ask for …

Even though I don’t know what I would even ask for … I really like the idea of getting clarity on something. So if writing a personal ad could shed some light on some of this stuff that would be pretty great.

Even though I don’t know what I would even ask for … I’m going to try this thing and find out what happens when I give myself permission to ask.

Even though I don’t know what I would even ask for … I wonder what would happen if I could just ask for something without necessarily having to think about whether or not there’s a possibility of receiving it.

Non-personal-ad non-question #2:

Even though I don’t believe that there is any way on earth that this would ever work …

Even though I don’t believe that there is any way on earth that this would ever work …what if it doesn’t have to?

Even though I don’t believe that there is any way on earth that this would ever work …what if it did?

Even though I don’t believe that there is any way on earth that this would ever work …what if it were enough for me to get a bit more clarity on what I want and need?

And what if that clarity could be a resource that I could call on when I needed it? What if it could give me that extra spaciousness?

What if that clarity and spaciousness could turn out to be the answer that I’m needing? Not something external but something internal?

Non-personal-ad non-question #3:

Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff …

Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff, I’m noticing that this is all about my sense that asking is greedy.

Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff, I’m recognizing that I’m really … afraid that people will think I’m obnoxious or “entitled” or demanding stuff.

Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff and this is setting off all my triggers about “deserving” and how money doesn’t grow on trees and stuff … I don’t have to do things that make me really uncomfortable.

I’m allowed to have issues around this. And I’m noticing that this is reminding me of [personal memory] and that’s really interesting.

And I’m noticing that I have big crazy resistance to the word “allowed”. Blech. I think I need to do more thinking/writing on that one.

Actually, I think I’m going to do ten minutes of Shiva Nata with my discomfort-with-asking as my theme/intention and maybe I’ll get an epiphany on that in the next couple days.

So, in low-key conclusion …

I guess what I’m recommending here is letting yourself not do the practice, but to go ahead and not-do-it in a way that lets you engage with some of the interesting bits of it.

In other words, you have permission to skip the stuckified parts but to still enjoy things like playfulness and curiosity and exploration.

Or whatever not-quite-as-cheesy words work for you.

Because who knows? Maybe this will open a door or two into a practice that’s a better fit for you.

Maybe it will supply some Useful Information about what you need.

Or maybe it will help you realize that doing it one way isn’t your thing, but there’s a different way of interacting with this that might lead you to something that is your thing.

And if the not-doing gives you a little more freedom to have fun with this, hooray. And if not, we’ll try something else.

My own Very Personal Ad for today?

Wishing for you (okay, and for me!) anything that helps you feel safe, supported and loved. And whatever you need to help release the stuff that says you “have to do it this one way“.

Because you don’t.

And that’s the great (and weird) part in this whole working on your stuff thing. You get to do it in a way that’s comfortable for you. I know! Crazy! Right?

But that’s another topic so I’m just going to trail off awkwardly now. Like this …

15 Responses to Not a personal ad.

  1. Tracy
    Twitter: verdissage

    I LOVE this twist on the practice of writing very personal ads. It sidesteps the ongoing conflict between “The Core of What I Want/Need” & “Ten Thousand Reasons Why I Can’t Possibly Have It” and lets you just go quietly write in the corner while they’re obliviously duking it out in center stage.

    Earlier this week, I managed to write (although I couldn’t talk myself into posting) a very personal ad regarding a Large Issue To Be Somehow Resolved, but it took a lot of time and anguish to get it onto paper. There was some squirming and frowning and sulking before the thing was done. In contrast, just finishing three tiny little sentences beforehand (or, you know, maybe just “instead of,” no pressure) probably would have eased that birthing process a little. I will definitely try it next time. Thank you, Havi!

    P.S. I have discovered the insane importance (for me) of including a deadline in my ads. When I wrote the one earlier this week, I forgot to include a specific date by which I required the thing to happen. When I added in a date, a major shift happened and the Definite Unlikelihood of the thing suddenly felt like a Grand Possibility instead.
    .-= Tracy´s last post … verdissage: (Turning a fabulous practice inside-out! Woohoo!) RT @havi: This is not a personal ad. About how to not-write one. http://is.gd/2C52a =-.

  2. Andi
    Twitter: annaline_39

    Some of those answers are what i would say as well. I feel so frozen, but this looks like something I could work with. :) I definitely need to go off-line to start with, will be back later. Thank you (and Selma!)
    .-= Andi´s last post … You’re My Inspiration =-.

  3. Lydia, CluelessCrafter
    Twitter: Art_Style

    I value the idea of asking for something we never think we could get, that we could only dream to be so lucky to have. I ask for very big things all the time and find that whenever something remotely close to it comes of it, I am happier than I would have been if I hadn’t allowed myself to dream big. I learn to cherish the small steps along the way.

  4. Barbara J Carter
    Twitter: barbarajcarter

    I keep reading other peoples’ personal ads and nodding my head saying “that’s so great, I should write a personal ad too.” And then nothing happens. I can’t think of what to ask for. Or if I do come up with something, it seems too trivial, too banal.

    Mostly I know how to obtain the things I want (more art sales, a new stove and microwave, fewer weeds in my garden). I know what I need to do in each case. Either I’m doing it, or if I’m not then that probably means I don’t want it badly enough.

    I’m not sure what this all means. Am I too resistant to the whole “the universe will provide” concept to even begin? Am I just too darn self-reliant? Too smart for my own good? I do know one thing: I’m really bad at asking for help, especially with things I think I should be able to do myself.

    Thanks for provoking some interesting thoughts. I think this is giving me some clarity on how I *could* maybe start writing my own personal ads after all. Cool!
    .-= Barbara J Carter´s last post … A Bewildering Visit to the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival =-.

  5. Judy
    Twitter: Crazybasenji

    It’s kind of like when you call your dog (this happens to me all the time) and he just looks at you, and you really need him to come so you call and call and he just stands there, so you finally turn and run the other way and he RUNS to CATCH UP!!!
    .-= Judy´s last post … Celebrate, c’mon =-.

  6. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    For me, a personal ad expresses my heart’s deepest longing–it’s a love letter to the Universe, a way of connecting, communicating, and aligning with all the forces that conspire to make me whole.

    So I don’t use it for everything I want. Like Barbara Carter (hi Barbara!), I know how to create most of the things I want in fairly straightforward ways.

    It’s the things that are part of the greater Mystery that need me to call to them through a personal ad.
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Sailing the Unknown Sea: #2 =-.

  7. Meredith says:

    OK – I’ll take two out of the three. Oddly enough, I do believe this works, I just have some stuff in the way.

    Even though I don’t know what I would even ask for…

    I’d like to ask that getting my websites up be easier and less perfect that my mind says it has to be, that my websites don’t have to be perfect to start with (like Fabeku), that my blog posts don’t have to be like Havi’s, that my first class doesn’t have to have 500 people to be OK. That I am OK, and my work is OK, if I continue to build momentum with my actions (thank you, Molly Gordon, for that reframing thought).

    Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff…

    I’d like for my websites to be up within two weeks, and the people that listen to Wendy’s and my first free call (Sept 24) to be excited about what they hear.

    And that I keep working and asking for stuff while I am also feeling really really uncomfortable about the asking thing.

    .-= Meredith´s last post … Travelogue to Flat Rock, NC =-.

  8. creativevoyage
    Twitter: creativevoyage


    Yes I can see that they would be very helpful.

    Writing random personal ads with no rhyme or thread is my thing……….
    .-= creativevoyage´s last post … more on SA wines =-.

  9. Serena
    Twitter: LizardMixture

    Ok so this is a post I really really needed. Thank you Havi!!
    So I see how one could write an ad for a wonderful compassionate dentist (I’ll be writing one of those myself soon) or to connect with another needed person or thing. But can you ask the Universe for a moment? I really love Hiro’s comment about a love letter to the Universe.
    My personal ad would be for the Universe to slow time down just by a moment. The moment between me doing the Very Scary Thing and reacting to the Very Scary Thing by freaking out and turning into a bowl of jelly on the floor (green jello of course). Can I ask for that? Because in that moment I can breathe, and tell myself I’m ok, and practice some Emergency Calming Techniques….. but I can’t seem to find that moment and …. BAM! freakout.

  10. Dawn says:

    Havi, this is very, very smart! I really love how you open up space and offer such interesting possibilities. I have felt stuck about asking for things for a while, though I never would have mentioned it or even asked for clarity. In fact, I didn’t even know I had issues until you mentioned the potential challenges around this practice.

    I think the “greedy” issue hits the nail on the head for me. Also, I fear I’ll somehow curse myself for asking for something. Because I got all cocky in the asking, I’ll never get it (because I don’t deserve it). Or worse, I’ll actually get it but wish I didn’t. I’ll wish I had the wisdom to know that it would turn out to not be the best thing for me. That I should have shut my trap and waited for whatever to happen.


    That apparently hit a nerve.

    Lots of gunk being stirred up, that’s for sure. I’ll be thinking about this for a while…
    .-= Dawn´s last post … The Phinish Line =-.

  11. Andi
    Twitter: annaline_39

    I did answer the questions over at my blog. I couldn’t come up with a kicky title, so I borrowed yours. :) Thank you again for posting this, answering the questions is helping to clarify where some of the big stuck is living.
    .-= Andi´s last post … Not a Personal Ad =-.

  12. Anna-Liza
    Twitter: Divina712

    Ah, you’re so good at this. I know at least some of what I would ask for, so maybe I’ll skip that one for now (until I come up against what I want to ask for but don’t know what it is). And I actually do believe this can work … just that it won’t work for me, specifically.

    I know, but that’s where I am.

    So … Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff … I am realizing that I have an underlying belief that *whatever I want, I can’t have/whatever I love will be taken away* and I’m really pretty tired of still believing that.
    .-= Anna-Liza´s last post … Pollyanna Sews Again (Well, She Thinks About It) =-.

  13. Wormy
    Twitter: SecretWormy

    One thing I find very confusing about personal ads is when you write them and they appear to come waltzing into your life and then waltz out.

    Bewildering and Scary.

    Um, and there are all kinds of self blame games you can play with yourself over it. The “well it’s because I don’t believe I deserve it” game or the “it must be because I wrote it wrong” game or “it’s because I’m not ready” and so on and so on.

    I have played them and probably will continue to for a while! :)

    On the other hand, the sensible, compassionate voice says, “Nonsense! You’re ready just as you are, your ad was perfect as it was and you do deserve it.” Because I think by writing something you can finally admit just a small part of what I want and that it’s the *intention* that counts.

    Or have I just got this all wrong and I actually have the universe playing silly buggers and laughing evily at me?!
    .-= Wormy´s last post … Biggification – it’s not just for business you know =-.

  14. LindaH
    Twitter: lindiop

    I had to have a go at answering these questions over on my blog as I’ve not been able to work out why I wasn’t doing it!
    I’ve got a bit more of an idea now but I think I need to dig a bit deeper.
    Thanks Havi, as usual you ask the best questions!
    .-= LindaH´s last post … Not a personal ad. =-.

  15. […] It’s definitely a journey. I want to rest in knowing that things are going to keep getting better, and yet I know that it’s still going to take work and communication and all those parts of sex that I’d been avoiding. It isn’t easy for me to ask for what I want, and I’m starting to see that that’s a theme. […]

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