WHY THIS MATTERS
CHRISTINE ARYLO: Hello everyone, I’m super excited to dive into this topic that women and girls aren’t talking about, but we absolutely need to be talking about. Because it’s affecting girls as early as the age of 7.
Left undealt with, it drives women to push themselves and pressure themselves, burnout and self-sacrifice, for the rest of their lives.
So I love that we’re here talking about this for our girls right now, and I also want to invite anyone who is listening whether you are a man or a woman, to listen also for yourself.
ELENI VARDAKI: What drew you to this work, Christine?
CHRISTINE ARYLO: I had an epiphany about 15 years ago.
I’m a recovering high-achiever and I was gifted in school. Always at the top of my class. I went to one of the best business school in the United States.
And then when I got a job, I was always getting promoted.
It almost felt like a mountain climber, where I was always on to the next goal, and on to the next thing.
I could do that until I hit up about 30, and at the age of 30 I had done everything that people told me to do, to be and to have it all.
You know, go out and get the successful career, and get the big job, buy the big house, and get the partner.
You know, all of those things.
I had on the outside the “This is what success looks like” in our culture.
And then I had a big wake-up call.
My fiancé at the time decided that he didn’t want to married me, on the way to our engagement party. This was a big boom, because here I am, an executive, and I’m getting my graduate degree, and I’m really smart. I’m a smart cookie! I was like, “How did this happen to me?”
As I started looking back, what I realized is that I had been taught how to have a high level of self-esteem.
self-confidence versus self-love
I had self-confidence and I was self-assured, but I didn’t have self-love. I didn’t even know what self-love was. I was like, “What is that?”
I didn’t even know what that is. And no one could really answer that question for me.
And so it began what’s now become over a decade long research into what has happened in our society, because of the over-focus on self-esteem.
Self-love has 10 different parts of what a person needs in their inner foundation, to be able to create a life that truly aligns with who they are, and that they can really stay true to themselves, and take care of themselves, and be successful.
So I would say: “I love being an achiever, but I also want to be a receiver. And I want to work in balance and in harmony.”
Because what were seeing in girls, starting at the age of 7, 10, 11 or 12, are the symptoms of anxiety, of stress, of depression, ADHD and ADD.
The numbers of women that I have worked with whose thyroids at the age of 25 are whacked out…there’s something going on, here.
And what I realized in the over 35,000 girls that I have worked with, and myself and other women, is that there is all of this self-bullying that’s going on, on the inside, that’s pressuring us to be perfect.
This self-bullying where we are comparing ourselves to other people.And we are trying to reach and keep up with these unrealistic expectation that are giving girls who’re 17. Stress symptoms that you used to get when you’re 50.
So we’ve got to do something about this, for ourselves and for our kids.
signs of self-bullying
ELENI VARDAKI: Teachers were trained to identify signs of bullying in school, and the kids are trained to report signs of bullying, but not for self-bullying. So how can we identify the signs of self-bullying, before anxiety and depression and disease kicks in?
CHRISTINE ARYLO: So just to give you a definition of what self-bullying is. Self-bullying is the act of pushing and pushing yourself, that causes you to take self-sabotaging actions and have sabotaging choices that are not in your best interest. We’ll see a lot of girls be really smart and make bad relationship decisions, and make bad health decisions. Make bad choices in their career and what colleges they want to go to.
But it’s also that act of saying super negative things and hurtful things to yourself in a way that makes you feel inferior, ineffective, unlovable or unworthy. And we have identified about 12 to 13 different signs, and I will share 3, here. Would that be a good place to start?
ELENI VARDAKI: Yes.
CHRISTINE ARYLO: Okay, so I will share 3 that we see as the shortlist for girls.
One is that they compare themselves to other people, so you will see them feeling inferior or like they are not good enough. Because this person has done that or that person has achieved that. That comparison is like a big, big red flag. Instead of valuing their gifts, they kind of judge their self-worth based on what’s smart, or what’s popular out there, because they want to fit in and they want to be “normal”.
Also, a sign of self-bullying is that your child is obsessively worrying about what could go wrong, about what could happen. We call it “Future Tripping”. Their mind is going crazy in here, which is creating all of these stress hormones in their bodies, because they’re trying to make sure that they’re safe, that they’re going to be okay, that they’re going to meet these expectations by obsessively worrying. And it’s just this mental chatter that goes on and on and on.
Also, if you that your child is pressuring themselves to be perfect, we have to be careful about this as parents because we can project our own expectation under our children.
Then they also have the expectation of like, “I just have to be perfect. I have to be the best.” These are all signs of self-bullying.
Another one is that they’re so busy they have no regeneration time. They have no time to pause or no time just to be a kid, you know, because the pressure is so much.
If you see your child is always doing stuff and then not being able to rest and not being
able to relax, that’s a sign of self-bullying.
I did a retreat in Mexico, and a mom and daughter came. And this daughter was 17 or 18. High-achiever and super gifted.And she was completely stressed out, because she had not made cheerleading that year. And she had not been voted in as the High Cheerleader. And she was devastated, because her whole life she was used to being No. 1 at everything. And so this rattled her self-confident.
And as I talked to her about it and we went deeper, what she was really excited about and interested in was the environment. And working in the environment and wanting to be a bigger part of making a change in the environment. She didn’t even know. She was just so in the despair of “Oh my God, I wasn’t No. 1, what does this say about myself?” and then projecting it into her college, “And now my life is ruined” mode.
But when I sat with her and just listened to her about what was really important, I was able to say to her, “Well, what if not having that opens up the space for something for you, and that your wisdom, your inner wisdom, is really guiding you to a path that you can’t see right now, that is really aligned with who you are? And if you’re trying to do everything, you can’t really focus on what really matters to you”.
She was like, “Oh yes”. Because I think, with girls, they’re so myopically focused (and I see this with the women that I work with, too) because they’re just on this track. And so they’re living their lives on this track like a torpedo.
And if everything doesn’t go according to plan, it totally swirls them around.
And what I said to this girl is, “Life isn’t like that. Life is more like a sailboat where you’re taking. Where you’re like, “I’m going to go over here, and I’m going to see what happens. Maybe I’ll hit my spot, and maybe I won’t, but wow, maybe I’ll find a new adventure.” And then you tack somewhere else. You can’t plan your life.
She was like, “Oh sail boating, I like adventures.”
A whole different frame. Instead of being on this track, to open up to being on an adventure in her life, where she goes to one point and then learn more, and then goes to another point and learns more.
HOW TEACHERS CAN HELP
ELENI VARDAKI: So it sounds like one way that we can help girls build a stronger connection with their inner wisdom, and to work wiser rather than harder, is to reframe the metaphor of how they’re picturing the path to the future. So that it’s a more flexible metaphor?
CHRISTINE ARYLO: Definitely. One way is to help our girls understands that we’re living in a time of uncertainty.
You might have, in the 1950s, been able to have a path and go and get a job and work at the same place for the next 50 years, but that’s not the world today.
So if we are not as, educators and parents, teaching our children how to thrive in an uncertain world, where they can tell the difference between what I call the “The Inner Mean Girl” (which is the inner critic that’s inside of women and girls – everyone has that. It’s the voice of fear and shame and blame), and the voice of your wisdom.
If we don’t teach our girls how to discern between these two voices, we’re not setting them up to go out in the world to be able to make choices, where they can’t just pick up the phone and call their mom or called their dad. We have to teach them how to deal with and feel the fear and voice it.
So when I’m working with a girl or a woman in this situation where they have self-judgment. I mean this girl, for example, was really judging herself.
I said “Why don’t you just tell me what your Inner Mean Girl is saying?”,
And she’s like, “What’s my Inner Mean Girl…?”
I’m like, “That’s that crazy voice in your head that says you’re not enough and why aren’t you doing more, you know, and how you’re a loser”.
She’s like, “Oh yes, I know that voice.”
I’m like “Yes that’s the voice of your self-bully.”
So you can do this with a girl, and just give voice to this Inner Mean Girl. And when you name it the Inner Mean Girl, they become an observer of it, versus it happening to them.
And so this girl was able to say, “Oh my God, she’s like she’s telling me you’ve ruined your life, and you’re never going to be able to go anywhere. And you’re a loser, and your friends aren’t going to like you anymore.”
And so as she kept saying it, I just let her go and let her go, and she got it out of her body, she got it out of her head.
If you don’t give a girl space to talk about this, it gets all wound up in there, which is then what causes the physical disease and the anxiety and the depression.
And we as women haven’t really been trained to do that really well. Nor have men. So we have to create the space and just let it go.
And then you have to help them be able to voice their inner wisdom.
This is scientifically proven, and it’s also based on yogic science, where you ask them just to close their eyes and take a breath. And the Yogic says if you can help a child or a person get into their neutral mind, which is not the positive mind or the negative mind, but the neutral mind, you can know your truth in 9 seconds.
So how we do that is we slow everything down, and we help them access their parasympathetic nervous system.
So let’s try this together, everyone.
PRACTICAL ACTIVITY: ACCESSING INNER WISDOM
Close your eyes.
Take a breath.
Think about a question or something that you have going on in your life right now, that you would love your inner wisdom to give you some guidance on.
Ask your inner wisdom: What does your Inner Wisdom know about that situation? What does your inner wisdom know? And if you have been cut off from your inner wisdom, you might get nothing. That’s okay.
It just means that your inner wisdom hasn’t been – Inner Wisdoms are like good friends; if you don’t call, they stop showing up – but you can have noticed the difference in the field right now, right? Everything is getting calm.
So I have done this with girls as young as 6, High School students, people in their 40 50 or 60, almost always their inner wisdom will speak.
And this girl said to me she’s like “My real friends will always be my friends. And I know that I have something bigger to do.” 17 years old!
We have to teach our girls how to do this, but we also have to be able to do it for ourselves.
And so one of the reasons that I founded with the Path of Self-love School, and why I do work with both adults and girls, is because as parents, as educators and as teachers – as anyone who has an influence on this younger generation – we weren’t taught this stuff.
No one talked to me about my inner wisdom, you know? They were just like, “Be confident and have a high self-esteem”. If you have high self-esteem and low self-compassion, you’re going to be a person that self-bullies.
Super successful, never feel like you’re enough, and always pressuring yourself. Always critical. You have high self-esteem low self-respect.
So many women that I work with and our girls will become women who’s super smart and successful at work, but disasters in their relationships.
And then they marry the person who is not the right partner for them and they have children with these people, and then they’re stuck with them their whole lives.
That’s not the way it could have been, had they been taught how to really respect themselves and trust themselves.
I founded the Path of Self-love School and wrote Reform Your Inner Mean Girl.
After that, I had a conversation with a teacher who came into my second book launch. She was a high school teacher. And she came up to me and she said:
“Christine, I want to tell you a story about a 17-year-old that’s in my class. So this girl came up to me recently and said:
‘You know, Miss, there’s an experience I really feel like I need to share with you’.
She said, ‘I went to this party with my friend, and my mom drop us off. And I put my hand on the doorknob, and I heard this voice.
And the voice said ‘Don’t go into that party’. That’s all it say, just ‘Don’t go into the party’.
And that was the moment her Inner Wisdom was speaking to her.
And then the other voice came in and said, ‘Don’t be a baby, your mom just dropped you off. Your friends are going to think you are a big baby. You know they’re going to laugh at you. Just go in.’ ”
So because she didn’t know how to work these two different forces, she turned that doorknob and she went into that party, and her life was never the same.
So what we’re talking about, here, is the lives and the safety of our children being able to grow up as adults that make decisions that are not being driven by an external world, who is telling them what success looks like and how they have to be.
We’re teaching them how to trust themselves.
And we weren’t taught how to do that.
We weren’t taught. It’s not our fault. And it’s not our parents fault, because they weren’t taught either.
This is the generation we have to ask questions about why our 17-year-old girls or 15-year-old girls having the same stress symptoms as a 50-year-old man used to have.
Because the pressure to perform is too much. It’s too much for all of us, too, if you’re an adult.
So I just want to say thank you to anyone who is here, because if you’re here you’re wanting and you know we have to do this differently. And it starts with us.
We get to change this. We get to decide how we want to work and how we want to live. We need to have the space to be able to be humans and not just be productivity machines.
I have studied leadership for many years, the traditional way.
The reason I teach Women’s Leadership, specifically, is that we have an over-focus on the intent, and an under-focus on the intuition.
I never got a class on intuition, and how to strengthen my intuition. And it’s like a muscle.
We need to value the intuition, as much as we value the intellect.
And for anyone out there, if you don’t know how to develop your intuition, how do we teach our girls or our boys or any of them to discern that?
We need to teach this in schools.
ELENI VARDAKI: I love it.
Eleni Vardaki graduated from the Anglo-American School of Moscow with the IB Diploma, and is also an experience IBDP teacher. She’s taught over 3000 secondary school students and over 300 IB Diploma students in the last 10 years. She’s on a mission to help bridge the gap between mainstream education systems and 21st century well-being skills. For youth mentoring, school bookings and free well-being training resources, go to: www.elenivardaki.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.