Greta Solomon: Heart, Sass & Soul
The path to self-love is difficult to navigate if it is littered with thwarted dreams and silenced music. It’s no longer made-to measure Valentino. Instead, it’s more hand-me-down from an aunt two sizes too big, or from that whippet-thin cousin whose thigh is the size of your wrist. It doesn’t fit. It tugs. It pulls. It itches. It scratches.
We can also pick at our wounds, compulsively, like the urge to pick, pick, at a scab until the freeing feeling of getting it off is replaced by the wincing rawness of unhealed skin. This is when we can become susceptible to criticism. Throwaway comments, insensitive observations, and downright nastiness can fester, and if there’s no creative buffer, they can take hold. They can worm their way into your life, your psyche, your experience. Like a piece of wood made gnarled and moldy, it can seem as though your self-expression is tangled. The unwanted thoughts, fearful tries, and inevitable failures that are par for the course when expressing yourself can seem like clear signs that it’s “game over.”
Let’s look at criticism for a moment, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll have heard a lot of it in your life, from a variety of angles.
Here is some of the criticism I have heard:
o You’re too quiet and sensitive.
o You don’t know how to get along with people.
o You laugh too loudly.
o You have short legs (yes, really!).
But what is interesting is that for almost every criticism I’ve heard from someone, I’ve heard the exact opposite from someone else. I say almost, because unfortunately, no one has ever told me I have long legs!
Here is some of the praise I’ve heard:
o You’re one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met.
o You’ve got such drive and determination.
o You’re really good at building relationships with people.
So, who is right and who is wrong? And what does it all mean? Well, it means that words come with an agenda. People say things to get us to behave in a certain way. For instance, “You’re too quiet” could really be someone saying, “I’m not comfortable with silence.” And, “You laugh too loudly” could mean, “I feel depressed and your laughter reminds me of how unhappy I am.” But instead of stating a flaw or weakness in themselves, others flip it back as a criticism— hoping that you’ll mold yourself to suit them.
So ultimately, the only thing that matters is what we believe. The stories we tell ourselves and the world hold the key to our individual happiness. If you live by other people’s agendas, then it’s likely that you’ll behave in ways that don’t serve your highest self.
Can you relate to this? To the need to please, to be liked, to be loved? You might feel that need so much that you take the criticism, and, like a sculptor, you begin chiselling away at yourself until— over time—your structure falls. You took too much away here and left not enough there, and now you’re broken and in pieces. So, you have to try and put yourself back together. Except now some pieces don’t fit you anymore. You’re new and different, and not necessarily better. You wish you had never started chipping away at yourself. But now you can’t stop chasing some illusion of perfection that was never there and can never be there.
When you embrace, believe, and embody criticism without questioning what’s behind it, you can start to believe that you’re not good enough. That’s when your perception of the world becomes skewed.
A key sign is that you keep finding yourself in situations where criticism, bullying, and harsh words are commonplace. That’s not necessarily to say that you are being bullied yourself, just that judgement, cattiness, and “calling people out” seems to happen all too frequently. Plus, if you’re the one that people find fault with, you can start to feel less and less. Worse still, you may be left with no idea how to remedy the predicaments you find yourself in. And if there are no unfriendly people like this in your life, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Maybe you have a critical inner voice, bullying you, pushing you around, and telling you you’re not good enough.
Maybe you’re telling yourself that you’re a failed piano player who doesn’t deserve to have music in her life. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you’re just not “good” at writing, you can’t spell, and your grammar is crap. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you want to write, you really do, but you don’t want to dig too deep. What if your ex-boyfriend, grandmother, or childhood best friend sues you after reading the things you wrote about them?
That’s not to say you need to believe you’re the greatest, the best thing ever, and all superior. That’s a fast track to an emotionally empty life. Instead there’s a more optimal way—a middle path of love, one where you don’t judge anything about yourself as good or bad and instead view it as information. Get to know yourself with an open heart and accept what you find. Then write what you find, express yourself, and take care of your needs first. Put fear to one side and create first.
Love and acceptance are gifts we desperately need to give ourselves. And they’re essential for living a fully expressed life. In the coming pages, you’ll find stories, ideas, food for thought, writing tools and techniques, and creative challenges and exercises that will help you to write your way to a self-expressed life. I’ll coax you into expressing what you truly think and expressing what you truly feel. And I’ll help you to write through the darkness until you pierce shadows of light.
I’ll also look at the negative events that happen to us all, which are trying to guide us. The catch is that if you’re not attuned to reading the signs and serendipities, the world will look bleak. But try to look a little deeper and a little closer. If you can squint your eyes and peer through the looking glass of life, you’ll see that signs and serendipities abound. You’ll see them dance across your eyes, pointing out the path to self-love.
Greta Solomon, Heart, Sass & Soul
Discover who you are: Writing for yourself is an incredible way to heal your heart, find happiness, and reconnect with the things that matter most. Journaling and freewriting can bring you a deeper level of self-awareness, allowing you to truly know who you are. Heart, Sass & Soul will show you how to develop a writing practice that nurtures inner strength and promotes a rich, fulfilled life. Recover the joy of creative self-expression: As kids, many of us had vibrant imaginations and our lives were full of creativity. Over time, that self-expression gets lost in the busy routine of everyday life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The tips, techniques, and exercises for freewriting in this book will help you tap into that creativity deep in your soul. Writing can be your best self-care therapy: Most of us, at some point in our lives, will lose something we truly love. That time in-between jobs, friends, relationships, homes, or whatever else, is the “great unknown.” Contrary to what some may tell you, this is not the time to make major, life-changing decisions. In the midst of loss and grief, you need self-care more than ever. In fact, the best thing to do in these times is write. A new approach to finding happiness: If you love self-help books for women like Start Where You Are, Practice You, and 52 Lists for Happiness, you’ll love this new approach. Heart, Sass, & Soul is not a journal. It’s a method for writing freely that will change the way you live. With this essential guide, you will learn how to:
Overcome self-doubt and develop a new creative identity
Transform dark times into something beautiful
Find moments for healing yourself without judgement
Become empowered with uninhibited self-expression