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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.


Some things I have learned about sovereignty.

Unrelated but awesome! Today is Tu B’shvat. The birthday of the trees! So I will eat figs while thinking about sovereignty. Happy birthday, trees.

This is a very partial list. Some of these things I learned from my dear, sweet Hiro, my sister-in-silliness and calmer-of-worries.

Others are things I knew and taught before.

But the past two and a half years spent studying and playing with Hiro have given me a much deeper understanding of all of this.

These are in no particular order. You are welcome to add to the list!

  1. When someone throws a shoe, that’s their stuff. That person is a sovereign being, and as such is allowed to have their stuff.
  2. I’m a sovereign being too, and I have the right to respond to shoes. I have the right to say, “Hey, listen, it hurts when you throw a shoe and it lands on me. This is not okay.”
  3. Their shoes don’t have anything to do with me. The better I get at remembering this, the easier it is to see that they’re rarely even intended for me.
  4. Every time I work on my stuff, that’s a sovereignty win. Every time I remember that I am not responsible for their stuff, that is too.
  5. Not everything requires a response” is a sovereignty practice.
  6. So is the practice of pausing.
  7. And the practice of letting people have the right to feel what they’re feeling. While giving yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling.
  8. Sovereignty provides spaciousness. And spaciousness strengthens sovereignty.
  9. We do not get to impose our sovereignty on other people.

    I can invoke sovereignty, and make room for everyone to access their own truth and wisdom by establishing a culture of sovereignty.

    If I try to determine how things should be or feel for other people, it doesn’t give them the space to have their own experience — which is part of what this is all about.

  10. Sovereignty is connected to freedom and responsibility.

    For example…

    Not an especially sovereign sentence: “You make me so mad!” or “I feel shut down.”

    No responsibility, because I am not owning my own experience, or acknowledging the relationship between my stuff and my feelings.

    And no freedom, either, because I have surrendered my power to you and given you the ability to make me feel or experience something.

    I am the one who feels mad. I am the one experiencing shutting down. And I cannot put that on you, because it is my reaction and my experience.

  11. Compassionate communication helps infuse each interaction with sovereignty.

    For example…

    “I felt upset and anxious when you asked me that, because I wasn’t sure if you were asking me for my opinion or giving me an instruction, and I really need to know that this is my choice. Obviously, this is completely my stuff. And any reassurance you can give me would be helpful.”

    There is freedom because I am taking responsibility for what I feel and what I’m experiencing. Freedom and responsibility.

  12. Your sovereignty does not in any way diminish mine. And vice versa.
  13. The more sovereignty there is for you, the more there is for everyone.
  14. And the clearer you are about what you need, the easier it is for me to assess whether or not I can meet that need.
  15. Sovereignty creates more room for both of us to have our own experience.
  16. Sovereignty is connected to caring and not-caring.

    The practice of intentional not-caring leads me to not take it all so personally, which brings me to the practice of detachment, which actually allows me to be more compassionate.

    That’s because the better I get at stepping out of my pain, the easier it is for me to meet your pain with love.

    And if I can step out of experiencing your pain long enough to see what it’s like for you to be in it, that’s where I find the ability to truly empathize.

    To be with you while you are in your pain and to remember pain and to love you in your pain, without going into my pain.

  17. You know who else is a sovereign being? Your project. That’s why we take the time to ask our projects and gwishes about what they want, what they need, and how they want to be put to bed at night.
  18. A favorite sovereignty practice of mine is the comment zen here on the blog.

    It’s a way to get clear about what I need, and to demonstrate how the culture of this space needs to work for us to feel safe, supported and loved.

  19. Another favorite is proclaiming SILENT RETREAT! when I don’t feel like talking.
  20. All of this takes time. But not as much time as you’d think. :)
  21. Any destuckification practice gets a little bit harder when we first start working with sovereignty, because it brings up all our stuff and rattles our world.
  22. These skills and this approach will bring more ease and flow into everything. But the starting? Oh, wow. It turns everything you know upside down.

  23. Totally worth it.

Something to think about.

And comment zen for today.

Oh, boy. This is probably the toughest destuckification concept there is. And the one that brings up the most stuff for us.

So instead of being in our stuff, we consciously make room for it to be there.

We can ask what is true and what is also true. We can recognize that our pain has the right to exist, and at the same time we can still be curious about all the things we’re wrong about.

We ask ourselves smart questions. We give ourselves room to make mistakes. We let everyone have their own experience.

And if you want to know more about how to really internalize this stuff so you can use it, I highly recommend Hiro’s new thing: How to Rule Your World.

Hiro has taught me more about wearing my crown than I ever dreamed possible, and so many concepts I’m passionate about have become ones I can now also live by, thanks to her help. I wouldn’t be the pirate queen without her.

Well, I would. But I wouldn’t know it.

Happy Thursday and so much love.

18 Responses to Some things I have learned about sovereignty.

  1. Andi
    Twitter: annaline_39

    I just have to say thank you, your ripples are far reaching. (Joan of Arcadia reference).

  2. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Havi, your sovereignty list makes my heart sing! :-)

    Sovereignty brings us into the fullness and power of our presence. By taking responsibility for the ecology of our lives, we help to create a world that works for everyone.

  3. Amy Martin
    Twitter: playwithamy


    I am happy you wrote about this.

    @Hiro – lovely to see you here too.

    The physical manifestation of sovereignty is fascinating to me. I must be acutely in tune with it because of my long background in operatic technique and voice teaching.

    The other day, surrounded by several early-twenties women, I was actually shocked to notice a severe lack of physical sovereignty – shoulders bowed, chest caved, head obsequiously tilted, eyes wavering.

    I wanted to straighten them up, tell them to puff out their chests like warrior queens, and OWN THE ROOM.


    I’d be curious to hear more about how your physical experiences of sovereignty have evolved, also how that blends with shivanata.

    Loves, Amy

  4. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    Thank you for this post, Havi. Lots to think about here.

    One of the biggest challenges for me is the not-caring aspect of sovereignty. I used to care what everyone thought of me, and even though I’ve come a long way, that button still gets pushed in vulnerable moments. My head knows that what people think of me has much more to do with their stuff than my stuff, my heart even knows that, but there are still parts of me — monsters, younger selves — who don’t believe that. They get scared. What they really need, though, I believe, is to see me stand my ground, with love and clarity, to see me interacting with the thoughts/feelings/fears of others with compassion and, yes, detachment. They need, quite simply, to be convinced, over and over, as many times as it takes, that I can survive any negative reactions that come my way. I will not be abandoned, not by those who love me, and certainly I will never abandon myself.

    Hmm. My thoughts are getting a bit tangled here. Time to pause (paws!) and take a breath. I’m going to spend a few minutes visualizing my crown, feeling its texture and taking its temperature, turning it in my hands and then gently placing it on my head, cool and shimmering and lovely.

  5. Ty Barbary
    Twitter: tybarbary

    Ahhh this post delights me. Sovereignty is probably my favorite concept I’ve learned from you, and this highlights some of the fine details that your 101 page doesn’t quite enunciate. (Does that make this Sovereignty 201? :D)

    Thank you so much for writing this, and for creating a culture that upholds it (and letting it uphold the culture).

  6. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah

    @ Havi – I love the idea of a project having souvereignty! and it feels so right. and it is so the reason for getting stuck. you can’t beat up your pet projects and expect them to grow. and from this perspective i think i can even manage to be nicer and less impatient – even if it’s hard to be nice to me, this is not just about that – it’s these cute little baby projects and gwishes that need space and love!

    @ Hiro – I read the first part of the ebook you wrote about souvereignty for your course and it totally helped me through a really tough moment in my phd research and more especially in my relationship with my supervisor.

    she can be harsh & angry & critical, with high standards and big walls, if she wants.
    does not mean i have to be so hurt.
    does not mean me or my project are going to benefit from anger.
    does not mean i have to let the country under my rule get invaded by angry soldiers

    I am still the queen :).
    And i am (trying to) move slowly and patiently and lovingly forward.
    And that’s enough.

    I invoke it.

    I don’t comment on every day so I shall say it now – these posts make all the difference.
    they are pulling me through a whole bunch of seemingly never-ending hardness

    and THANK YOU HIRO too :)


  7. Leila
    Twitter: LeilaLEvelyn

    This subject is so huge.
    Thanks for sharing!


  8. fairbetty
    Twitter: fairbetty

    Hi. Lurker.

    Thanks for this post. Needed it today.

  9. Liz
    Twitter: lizemmettmattox

    So many other things fall into place when the concept of sovereignty is present. It never ceases to amaze me how the answer to most of the ‘problems’ I come up against starts with finding that place of sovereignty.
    Thanks for this reminder!

  10. Dave
    Twitter: asmallfield

    Sovereignty is such a huge topic and I sometimes find it overwhelming (but also wonderful and necessary!) Reading these bite-sized sovereignty concepts made it feel less intimidating, more something that can be handled on step at a time.

  11. Marianne
    Twitter: zenpeacekeeper

    I say this often enough Havi (given that I read and benefit from most everything you write) – so here is a very heartfelt “Thank you”

    Thank you.

  12. Amber
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    I’ve decided that my word for 2011 is “space”.

    I feel like I’ve written myself a permission slip to exist and have needs. And it feels like the first baby steps on the path to sovereignty.

    I love it. And I so appreciate you for setting the example you do.

  13. Casey says:

    I like the idea of compassionate communication, but it seems too take too many words to use effectively.

    For example, saying “I felt upset and anxious when you asked me that, because I wasn’t sure if you were asking me for my opinion or giving me an instruction, and I really need to know that this is my choice. Obviously, this is completely my stuff. And any reassurance you can give me would be helpful.” to, say, a client, would 1) take way too long, 2) make them think I was a nutjob (like the time I said I’d meditate on something in an interview and got the raised eyebrows from the interviewer). Friends would listen to that same statement and ask “Who are you and what have you done with Casey? Are you in therapy again?”

    Has anyone figured out a way of practicing brevity within the ideas of compassionate communication?

  14. […] Havi’s list ‘Some things I have learned about sovereignty‘ is absolutely golden. Share […]

  15. […] Brooks at The Fluid Self – especially this post:  Some things I have learned about sovereignty; her comments at Mark’s and Bridget’s are always worth […]

  16. […] work. Every time I met with an obstacle, I tried to dismantle it gently, a veil dropping, with sovereignty. I was trying to figure out what this very faint voice was saying, from the future, from the […]

  17. […] reminded me about sovereignty, which is a subject they both talk about very […]

  18. […] The other day I decided August would be The Month of Queen Mia. Where I declare my sovereignty and My Own Personal Dammit List.  If you’re interested in what I mean by sovereignty, take a look at Havi Brooks’ marvelous site The Fluent Self: http://thefluentself.wpengine.com/blog/stuckification/some-things-i-have-learned-about-sovereignty/ […]

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