Do you One-star Review Yourself?

Reading from Sister, at Open Streets Poetry Reading, Sept 2021. Photo by Justin Winslow.

It happened. The fear that nearly prevented me putting my writing out into the world at all. The dreaded one-star review! Haha.

A former version of me would *not* have laughed at that.

It was a rating with no explanation on my collection of poetry, Sister. I’ve never claimed to be the highest level poet or writer. I’m learning, just like everyone else. Part of the process of my learning is putting work out into the world to see what happens. It took me over a year to put the plant spirit books out because the fear of the one-star review dominated me. I had to get myself to a place where I knew it would happen one day (because of course it would), and to not let it steer my future hopes and dreams of being a writer.

(I’m remembering now pressing “publish” on the first book, Dreaming with Dandelion and my thought as I clicked was “please don’t one star review me!”)

And, I published it (and all that followed) anyway.

My response to the one-star has surprised me. There it was, and there it will remain. I can’t escape it or avoid it. I have to see it. 

Seeing it, my brain first tried to justify it: it could have been for any reason. Maybe the book itself arrived damaged, maybe it wasn’t the writing at all, maybe the reader’s expectations weren’t met. And/or maybe they simply didn’t like it.

And that’s OKAY!

What then irked me was that someone would go out of their way to pro-actively do this. An old version of myself would have seen this as a personal attack. 

Maybe it is… and… maybe it’s not.

Then radical acceptance set in because I love this little book of poems. I love the three years it took to come together and the healing required and infused within the pieces. I love it anyway, even if others do not. For perhaps the first time, I let go of requiring external validation. 

Then I could focus on the other reviews–the five stars! I even pulled them all together on a page on my website to bask in the energy of support across all of the 30+ books I have out there. This is so important and something that so many of us often forget to do; instead dwelling on that which is bringing discord or lack. How could I forget that supportive community also is present? (It’s so easy to forget this in life… and essential to build up an abundance of support in every possible way you can so that when things like this happen… it’s there for you to return to/can help you heal). 

Next came the coaching self-talk that this is good preparation because if I write the novel I want to write in the way I hope it will turn out, and if people actually read it, it will most certainly be burned. That is the goal! That has always been something I’ve aspired to. So I better be ready to incorporate a lot of one-star reviews in the future! And know that they are okay. 

A week later after all of this processing and incorporating, and sharing with a few friends who I knew would understand, I felt more free and fueled than I ever have. A lot of stored old energy and thoughts released and pivoted to a new belief structure. A new way of being and relating to myself and to my work. Now, unafraid of rejection—no longer seeing that one-star review as what it has always felt like—an attempt to make me STOP, instead I felt prepared to do the opposite. To go!

I started reaching out to herbal schools to pitch my books. I started broadening the reach of my writing by directly asking people to include it in their shops or in their student reading lists (and several have responded that they want to!). I have been shying away from doing this out of fear. 

Now that fear has been moved through and I am more expansive and loving as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to call in a plethora of one-star reviews! (Please, no!) And, at the same time, I am unscathed and an aspect deep within my psyche and heart has received deep healing. The unexposed wound I was trying to protect through fear has had its day and… received tender love and attention. I now feel not only more at peace but lighter and, at the same time, grounded—with far more footing than I’ve had ever before. Ready. At a new level of peace.

I share this in case there are places in your own life where you can draw connections. Where are you afraid of being one-star reviewed by others? Or where do you one-star review yourself/your life? What happens as a result of this thought/fear? How does it inform how you treat and review others? Do you dole out support for others and yourself? Do you rest in judgment, shooting out criticism like arrows? Is there a place through non-judgment, acceptance, and love, where you also can reside in peace?

To that end, I’ve launched a new Yoga Nidra for Peace recording available on on Apple MusicSpotifyYouTube, and all other digital music stores. Feel free to share your experience and what messages come through to you for how to cultivate peace in yourself (and thereby bringing it into the world). 

And, if you would like to leave a review of one of my books you have ready on Amazon, please do! They really do make a difference! Especially in helping to build up the abundance of support (but of course, authenticity and honest is the most important thing).

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