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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.


When things aren’t working.

The hardest part when things aren’t working is waiting for the new things to come in.

The ones that do work.

That is to say:

The new patterns, the new customs and rituals, the new techniques, the new approach.

(If you’re a shivanaut, you’re intimately familiar with this process. Engaging with Shiva Nata means you’re constantly deconstructing patterns and replacing them with the new ones. It’s really hard!)

But often there’s a gap. And inside of this gap you’re hyper aware of all the things that are not working, and still not clear on what form the new pattern is going to take.

That’s where CONGRUENCE comes in.

Part of what’s happening in this type of period of frustration (and I go through this fairly often because I do a lot of internal processing) is this:

It’s not just that you’re aware of the things that aren’t working. You’re also seeing evidence all around you that points to the extreme severity of This Is Not Working.

And you’re extra-sensitive to everything that doesn’t feel congruent. Everything that is not in line with the new way can feel jarring or pokey.

Extreme cognitive dissonance! It’s just one guy!

You’re noticing all the places in your life that are not harmonious with the way you actually want to feel.

One of the things that I have found helpful — for me! — in these times of transition-ey process-ey aaaaah-I-hate-everything-in-my-life is this:

Making tiny little symbolic things more congruent. And getting rid of tiny little symbolic incongruencies.

Tiny things.

It could be just one thing.

Or it could be just ten things.

Or however many you like.

The way I do it is by wandering around Hoppy House or the Playground or my office aka the pirate queen quarters, looking for what doesn’t fit.

And I make a REALLY BIG DEAL out of the symbolic value of releasing incongruence.
Translation: moving things around! Throwing things out!

What this looked like yesterday.


“Listen up, WORLD! I am DONE with things! I am done with things that are incongruent! Done with things that are unsovereign! Done with things that are not in present time!

“Or any combination of the above!

“And I am READY for things that are congruent, harmonious, sovereign and fabulous.”

And then I remembered again:

This is the pain and dissonance of my current growth period — right now I’m hyper aware of all the things that are not harmonious with how I need them to be.

So of course I feel like crap.

As for my panicked “oh no the old things aren’t working, where are the new ones?”, we know how this works. The new tools will come as I get rid of those things which are not congruent.

This happens after every Rally (Rally!). It happened after Crossing the Line (password: haulaway), and we totally prepared for it there because we knew it was coming. This is a normal thing that can happens when you cycle through a big internal change.

And that’s good because things need to move and change. That’s part of being alive. It’s when they don’t change (or I try to not allow them to change) … then they stop working and become stagnant.

There’s even a whole page about this in the Book of Havi.

So find out what you’re done with and be done with it.

What am I done with? Let’s find out…

I am done with this green visor on the giant duck that lives on top of the red wall at the Playground! I don’t know why. A few months ago I thought it was delight-filled and sweet. But now it’s wrong. Gone!

I am done with this list of iguanas!

I am done with not taking care of myself!

I am done with holding onto presents that I don’t want!

I am done with the Lost & Found box!

I am done with this door not closing properly!

I am done with all of these things.

And I am ready to discover what the harmonious and congruent version of these things might look like / sound like / feel like.

So there were tiny changes.

The visor got put on a stuffed animal (who loved it!).

I decided that none of the iguanas actually needed me, they were just reminders of things I don’t like, so I tossed the list.

A bunch of presents at Hoppy House got recycled and regifted.

The First Mate was charged with getting the door fixed.

I still don’t know what to do with the Lost & Found box but it is being moved to a new place so I don’t have to look at it while I’m working. Maybe I’ll write a Very Personal Ad for this one.

I still don’t know what the new way is yet.

But there are fewer barriers to it coming in.

So I don’t have to know. I just have to keep making room for it.

That’s what I did yesterday.

Today I feel more like myself than I have in a while.

I feel less frustrated about the gap between knowing what I don’t want and remembering what I need.

This is what I’m focusing on right now:

Trusting that the new patterns are coming in.

Welcoming them by removing tiny, symbolic things that remind me of what isn’t working, and by making space.

Play with me! And the commenting blanket fort.

You are welcome to search for tiny, symbolic mini-changes in your space or in your day.

You can leave a loving hand-on-heart sigh for the shared experience of those gap times.

You can use the tools and explore and discover. You can color some monsters. It helps. It’s crazy, but it helps.

You can throw things you are done with in a giant magical recycling elevator-shaft that I am establishing here. Into the completion pot!

Or drop off some gwishes.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We take responsibility for our stuff. Because without sovereignty and spaciousness, this whole thing falls apart.

And we make this a safe space by not telling each other what to do, how to be or how to feel. We make room for each other.

Love to all the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers, and everyone who reads.

28 Responses to When things aren’t working.

  1. Julie
    Twitter: julieclarenbach

    This was exactly what I needed to read today, living in the midst of the acknowledgement of just how much things aren’t working right now.

    Making small things congruent! Simple, sweet solution.
    Julie recently posted… Your plans are allowed to change

  2. Jane
    Twitter: JaneOfArdis

    Thus explaining my urgent need to get rid of CDs I bought when I was 17 and the wrong type of hair shampoo bought as a gift but so unsuitable.

    I even wrote myself some questions about this two weeks ago…
    Jane recently posted… Exploring the house of shavasana

  3. Simone
    Twitter: simonethinks

    This is so great! I was just talking to a friend about consciously stopping doing things that you don’t want to do — i.e. paying extra special attention to what’s not congruent and doing something about it.

    (whereby ‘doing something about it’ absolutely includes just noting that it’s there and noting how I feel about it.)

    What am I done with?

    + I’m done with not having my playground corner in the apartment!
    + I’m done with feeling BLAH in the evening!
    + I’m done with not appreciating [the thing] in my life!
    + I’m done with doubting myself about [certain things]!
    + I’m done with anybody in my life who doesn’t think I’m awesome!
    + I’m done with reacting to anybody who does think I’m awesome but is confused about what I’m up to!
    + I’m done with going to bed after 11 pm!
    + I’m done with forgetting what I know!
    + I’m done with NOT KEEPING RECORDS!

    RAWR RAWR! Elevator shaft!

    I have so many ideas for tiny symbolic things that will remind me. Silent retreating on them, though.

    Love to all!
    Simone recently posted… There is nothing deficient about my attention. Or yours.

  4. Leanne says:

    WOW! This post certainly explains a lot!

    I considered not putting up Christmas decorations because I wasn’t finished wallowing in my self-pity. But then I did and it was wonderful.

    Christmas came and went and my estranged (but lovely) husband volunteered to take the children and myself to the movies Christmas night and I declined. No ill will. I just didn’t need or want that right then.

    Without making a conscious decision about it I began putting away all the decorations. On CHRISTMAS NIGHT. Which is something I’ve NEVER done.

    I was alone. I wasn’t angry or exhausted or any of that. A while later the tree was put away, all the boxes were stored before my loved ones returned.

    I just remembered how strange it seemed for it to be done non-methodically, no emotional attachment: negative or positive. It seemed to be the right time.

    And now I know. I was experiencing a whirlwind of incongruencies at that moment. This was a tiny thing (that of course, was huge) of congruency. It was a symbolic moment for me that I could put the tree up and take it down as I pleased. Whenever I pleased.

    For the first time ever…I am in charge, which means I have no else to blame, for what stays in my life and what is thrown out.

    And it is right.

  5. Laura says:

    I feel like I’m in the midst of this freefall where I’ve finally admitted that what I’ve been doing not only doesn’t work, but doesn’t even provide the comfort of habit anymore.

    The old ways:
    Make me dislike myself
    Make me feel anti-social
    Cause me to do a lot of heavy “woe is me” sighing

    The new ways are out there… I feel like I’m just starting to figure out what they might be … or at least see the glimmer of what they *could* be.

    And I’ll trust that this freefall will land me in a new place, with new ways and lots of sunshine and rainbows.

    Until then, I’m just going to try to enjoy the ride…
    Laura recently posted… Two Dog Night

  6. Max Daniels
    Twitter: maxdaniels

    Mmmmmm, sigh. Thank you.

    Public declaration: I’m DONE with skipping lunch. Fleeing my desk right now for lunch.

    Max Daniels recently posted… By request: my eating guidelines

  7. jessica serran
    Twitter: jessicaserran

    sigh and hugs and hands on heart, all around…

    i like this idea of being DONE!
    and for doing what we can in that space between done-ness and new-ness…

    i’d like to throw this into the elevator shaft:

    I am DONE with saying yes when my body says NO!
    I am DONE with the subtle icky ways that I let my empathy run wild.
    I am DONE taking on other people’s stuff, because it shores up some old version of myself.
    I am DONE thinking that my actions and words aren’t powerful.
    I am DONE beating myself up over a cup of coffee.
    I am DONE being stuck in the grey, convincing myself that I don’t know what I want.

    and if i want to shave one side of my head, i will! I’m DONE thinking that willing myself to not cut it and have long hair is a good idea…

    I am DONE worrying heavily about the backlash and lovingly giving my subconscious other, more useful tasks…

    wow. again… sighs and love all around…

  8. Fruit Maven
    Twitter: fruitmaven

    Oh Havi. How did you know? How do you always know?

    Thank you.
    Fruit Maven recently posted… Opal Apple

  9. Jane
    Twitter: JaneOfArdis

    I read this and commented and then coloured a monster (the weird stuck that was all ‘no you can’t colour monsters’ seems to have magically dissolved – thank you shiva nata) and now feel sure that I can remove unwanted shampoo, hot water bottle covers, ratty old towels for soaking up water from when the roof leaked and ugly dust-collecting open top storage boxes, etc, without imploding from monster-talk regarding the waste, ungratitude or that I will need it in the future and somehow not be able to ever get it again.

    Declaring myself the Queen of my space!
    Jane recently posted… Exploring the house of shavasana

  10. VickiB says:

    Leanne! and Jessica! Wow!

    @ Leanne: “I am in charge, which means I have no else to blame, for what stays in my life and what is thrown out.”

    and @ jessica serran: “I am DONE being stuck in the grey, convincing myself that I don’t know what I want.”

    These are two of the most powerful statements I’ve ever read.

    There is a wonderful congruence between Havi’s post and Julie’s “Your plans are allowed to change” post.

    And with my occasional “Quality of Life” exploration where I walk through my house and look at all the small things that aren’t working or need to change.

    Sighs and hugs and encouragements for everyone.

  11. Esteban
    Twitter: Estebban

    My first thought reaching the end of this post is: that’s what is happening to me right now!!

    I have been reading the blog for a couple of months and started being aware of things that don’t work, learning to take care of me and respect the need and existance of boundaries (of others and mine too).

    Sometimes I let the frustration of me-doing-things-in-the- least-helpful/functional-way to keep me from actually doing it better next time, now I know it is normal, I’m not alone and I need to work on that in order to get to work with the rest of my stuff.

    Now I found another reason to be patient with Still Learning Me, who is frequently also Scared Me and Frustrated Me, but now I know better and will do my best to help :)

    Some things I’m done with:

    – I’m done hoping for things without acting to get them
    – I’m done letting ohter people opinion in my world
    – I’m done blaming myself instead of caring for and encouraging myself
    – I’m done waiting for [next] instead of enjoying [now]
    – I’m done keeping silence when it doesn’t feel right or fair

    Thanks for the space and sending good mood and wishes to all.

  12. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Hhhmmmmmmmmmhhmmmm….. Transitions.

    I have often held onto ‘things’ (real and emotional/storywise) because of the gap, and a fear that without xxxxxx defining me then Oh-God-Who-Am-I??!!?? It’s not fun and in the end also incredibly boring. Particularly when the really obvious truth dawns that ‘I am the person who used to like xxxx, or identified as xxxxxxx, and now I’m not, and even though I’m not consciously clear about what I like better or identify as more I do continue to exist!! Even in the amorphic field of existential uncertainty!! So I can relax a bit and trust that the new will arrive in due course.

    Very feng-shui!! Very opposite to fear-of-scarcity. Ooooh- it’s the freedom of apariagraha!!! Non-hoarding! Trust!!!

    Everybody knows that bogeymen go away when you hide your head under your blankie, right? So therefore the best way to disorient them is to cover its head with a blanket so they get totally woozied out from the existential uncertainty and you can leave the bar in peace. (I totally stole that from Terry Pratchett btw but then I am a giant dork (keeping that! claiming it! I LIKE being a giant dork! btw!!)

    POINT BEING: the existential uncertainty that comes out of letting go of [that which defines who I used to be] is certainly woozifying, but maybe that’s just cos we just can’t see how we are covered by a blankie during that time. A blue one. Fluffy, with satin edges and bunnies in the corner. Provided to us by our past-self who is just taking the opportunity to leave the bar in peace already and while we cling and grasp onto [who we used to be] and [how we used to define ourselves] we are our own bogeymen and really need some blankie time until we can peek out from under it and remember who we really are.

    And if we don’t cling in the first place we don’t even have to turn into bogeymen or get woozified at all but even when we DO all that means is that our past-self has covered us with a fluffy, blue bunny blanket and everything is still okay.

    Yes? Okay, that is all COMPLETELY INSANE but it makes sense to me and I think it is hysterical…. Ha!!!!!
    Claire P recently posted… Returning. Hello new year, new self, new moment

  13. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Also, OF COURSE you can’t see what’s coming next, you’ve got your head under a blanket. Der! Bogeys. We ain’t that bright!

  14. Julia
    Twitter: JuliaBushue

    I just moved to a new apartment the week after Christmas, and I’m still constantly running into “this-worked-in-the-old-place-but-not-here” syndrome. With possessions, routines, activities…everything, really. Still working on gracefully letting go of the old ways and things and seeing what’s congruent with where I am now.
    Julia recently posted… Kitty!

  15. judy says:

    So that’s what happened to me last week when I felt like crap but couldn’t figure out why. It was the “Tweengies,” that’s my new word for the twinges that come during the between time.

    Thanks Havi!

    I’m done with being shy about stating my fee!!
    There – DONE!

  16. Andi
    Twitter: annaline_39

    Sighs and hugs and yet again it’s like you’re living in my head and write just what I need to hear.
    Andi recently posted… 30 Days of Drawing: Day Fifteen

  17. Claire #3-I-think
    Twitter: nycu_cg

    Thanks! quite helpful… at least now that I feel up to actually following such advice/suggestions again. I was SO avoidant for a time -a miniature self huddled, trembling in a corner- that I wouldn’t even read your blog or my books… when I obviously needed it/them most.
    (also, at some point on my way back out of the dark pit, I magically forgot my PayPal password the very night I was trying to order the Procrastination Dissolve-O-Matic… wanna bet that I remember it as soon as I’m done with my oldest, giant iguana? next duel planned tomorrow morning…)

  18. Simone
    Twitter: simonethinks

    Another thing that occurred to me: I’m done merely HAVING epiphanies. I’m going to live them.
    Simone recently posted… There is nothing deficient about my attention. Or yours.

  19. Krin
    Twitter: misskrin

    Lovely article, and got to the core of some things I’ve been reflecting on in the last week.

    I just looked around my desk at work for the things that were helping to perpetuate the fuzz bubble that was my life in 2011, and realised the oppressive shelf of folders of doom right at my head level were a big symbol of this head-space that is no longer needed.

    These folders of doom were inherited from the previous person who sat at this desk, and carried a lot the weight of her stress and resentment with this position.

    So, half those folders, the ones I don’t use, are now in a filing cabinet, out of sight. There’s now enough space on that shelf for a happy plant to live and keep me company while I work.

    Already I feel less oppressed, less weighted down with the “stress of it all!” and the “doom of too much work!” and less fuzzy. Hooray!

  20. Krin
    Twitter: misskrin

    @ Julia: I understand. We movedin to a house 6 months ago, and it’s only now that I have felt comfortable enough to dedicate a weekend to sorting out where things should go now so that the house flows properly and feels spacious and light (compared to how things worked and were best placed in previous houses).

    It does take a while. For me at least

  21. Anna Gardner says:

    Loving hand-on-heart sigh for the freaking enormous GAP that bereavement is.
    Grieving is hard work. Done when you are shattered.

    I’m DONE with berating myself that this time of “transition-ey process-ey aaaaah-I-hate-everything-in-my-life” is taking ‘too long’.

    And MANY of your posts help, Havi.

    Beloved Lurker, Anna

  22. Cherilyn
    Twitter: Bikeblisschick

    But I’m done with:
    –The kitchen being a wreck when I go to bed.
    –Collapsing into bed instead of going intentionally.
    –The recycling bin living in the kitchen.
    –Getting on the internet first thing in the morning.
    –Waiting for the world to tell me who I should be instead of stepping into congruency and sovereignty.

    Thanks for the insight and permission.
    Cherilyn recently posted… Bike love . . . without the committment

  23. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    This is pure gold, and positively magical.
    Kathleen Avins recently posted… Clarity.

  24. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    @Anna – you are so right on. That is a fanTAStic donewith. Mmmmhmmm.

  25. Jennifer
    Twitter: unchartedworlds

    I decided that none of the iguanas actually needed me, they were just reminders of things I don’t like, so I tossed the list.

    I read this and burst out laughing!

    half with surprise and half with freedom! how lovely to think of have-to-and-don’t-want-tos actually being don’t-have-tos in disguise.

    Also liking the idea of tiny symbolic changes that are easy to do. Hmmmm.
    Jennifer recently posted… Things I like in fiction

  26. Esme
    Twitter: TheRealSqualor

    I need to drop off a gwish!

    My gwish is to write a short story in two weeks without going insane or feeling like I’m doing a shoddy job or busy work.
    Esme recently posted… green sharpie

  27. Wally
    Twitter: waldogg

    Such a timely article…why am I not surprised? Thanks for a great plate of yumminess to enjoy and digest.

    Okay…so I’m totally addicted to your blog, Havi. And THAT is a good thing (trust me…my other addictions are much less enlightening and way more expensive).

    So, I tend to judge myself pretty harshly…particularly about “not doing enough” or “not being enough”. I’ve been caught up in “not knowing what I want” for way too long.

    Guess what? I AM DONE with believing these things and I AM DONE with using ‘stuckness’ as my identity. I don’t know what comes next, per se, but I can allow myself to be ‘in between’ and to comfort, support, and love me while I’m ‘tweening’

    And big thanks to those of you who have written to share your experiences. Hugs and encouragement to you all.

  28. Fruit Maven
    Twitter: fruitmaven

    I’m done with doing work I don’t love. Done done done. I resign from the church of torturous work. Resigned and done.

    “And I am READY for things that are congruent, harmonious, sovereign and fabulous.”

    Fruit Maven recently posted… Is that a worm in your apple? YES!

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