Freeing Girls from a Culture of Perfectionism

Eliza Reynolds

This episode’s guest is Eliza Reynolds. Eliza is a senior at Brown University where she is studying developmental and social psychology & Gender Studies.

Eliza was a peer-counselor throughout high school and an S.O.S. trained educator for Planned Parenthood. She continued to use these skills working in Providence city schools as a sexual health educator. Eliza has recently co-authored a book titled: Mothering and Daughtering: How to Create a Deep and Enduring Relationship Through the Teen Years with her mother Sil Reynolds. Eliza was a featured presenter at the 2013 Emerging Women Live Conference in Boulder, CO.

In this episode of Grace & Fire, Eliza and I speak about:

  • Perfectionism and her battle with her inner critic
  • How perfectionism isolates us as women and how she recommends to break these walls
  • Advice for Moms to help their daughters cultivate self-acceptance of their bodies
  • A final piece of wisdom for girls who are facing their inner critics

Tune in and listen to Freeing Girls from a Culture of Perfectionism with the young and insightful: Eliza Reynolds.

Subscribe to the Emerging Women podcast on iTunes.

Transcript:

Chantal Pierrat: Welcome, Eliza!

Eliza Reynolds: Well, thank you, Chantal!

CP: Now, tell us where you are right now.

ER: I am in Providence, Rhode Island. It is drizzling outside [and] that typical New England fog that’s settling in. I’m at school at Brown University, finishing up my senior year, and I’m curled up on my couch with my candle and my mug of tea. I’m so excited to be here talking to you.

CP: Nice! Now, you’re in your senior year, and you also just published a book that you co-wrote with your mother.

ER: Yes, ma’am, I did.

CP: And you also are launching, I believe, a website.

ER: Yes, I am. TheWholeGirl.com is the new beginning that I’m really excited about. I come from a background of teaching—actually, we’re in our eighth year of teaching together, my mother and I, and I’m 22, so that’s pretty exciting to have had this legacy of teaching behind us and really be heading into innovating material together as a mother-daughter team.

But as a senior [who’s] graduating, I’m launching my own work, The Whole Girl, which is looking at wholeness versus perfectionism, specifically in teenage girls today. But, gosh, our inner teenage girls never truly leave us. Even though I may be 22, I still feel pretty tied in, and I know, for example, women like my mother do as well.

So it’s for the whole girl in all of us, really. And [it’s about] looking at wholeness as an alternative model to perfectionism and to a pretty rapid and dangerous culture of perfectionism that often gets masked behind other standards or other goals that can be very dangerous. And [it’s about] looking at ways that we can see ourselves live as whole entities, whether it’s not just as a value of our bodies as the center of our identities—where we ourselves look at ourselves in wholeness and work to live for and towards wholeness as an experience.

CP: And do you have personal experience with perfectionism? Do you feel like you’ve been a perfectionist?

ER: Oh, yes ma’am! [Laughs] Oh gosh, yes. I can definitely say perfectionism has been one of my inner demons, among other things. Different traditions call it different things, whether it’s the super ego, to be Freudian, or the inner critic is definitely one, a phrase that speaks very powerfully to me, or if you look at it in Jungian psychology, often we hear the voice of the inner negative mother or the inner negative father. And for me, it’s been a pretty consistent cohabitant of my brain. And I would say that my inner critic, in many ways, has served me [by] kicking my own ass into gear in one of the most awesome ways.

And yet, there came a time that my inner critic was truly running the show, and that I was living in a place where I was being negatively driven from moment to moment, from achievement to achievement, whether it was a conversation with a friend, a school paper, a relationship, a work event. It was never good enough, I was never good enough, I was never enough, according to this voice.

And first of all, it just became such a pain to live with, but I also realized it wasn’t coming from a true place in myself to be living from this voice and to associate this voice, this inner critic, as myself. I thought that was me, that [that] was always the truest expression of myself, rather than one of the many voices that we live with in our heads, these energies that we live with, whether we imagine [them] as an inner counsel that’s always giving us feedback or really kind of a one-on-one relationship of attention with this perfectionistic drive where it’s never good enough, it’s never enough.

I remember I would get up to speak, for example, at a conference or teaching a workshop, as I do very often, and there’s that moment of elation, like, “OK, I’ve reached my audience and they laughed”—that moment where you’re riding a wave of speaking to a group. And I would get off the stage and I’d probably give myself maybe 30 seconds to enjoy it, and then I’d start to strip myself down inside. “Could have done this better, could have done this better.”

And I told myself that criticism was the way that I was going to actually improve myself, and that’s very true, of course. We do need that energy and that voice to a certain extent, because we need this discernment, we need feedback. But when it comes from a place where the thought is really more of a destructive force that I was telling myself was for a higher goal, that I truly lost sight of that higher purpose within myself, and it was nearly breaking me apart every single day. It was almost a constant struggle to tell myself of my own value against the battle with my own perfectionism and my own inner critic.

CP: Right. And when you say that it was a battle, how did you pull yourself out of this? What was the battle like? What was your process like?

ER: Well, I say “battle” because there are a number of battlegrounds that have most explicitly shown up in my life, the body being one very specific one that I’ve done quite a bit of work around. Sometimes I feel like it can be hard to have a concrete idea of perfectionism versus wholeness. How is that actually in my life?

And the body is an embracement of the means for me to look at that. I can see my own perfectionistic drive manifested on my body, whether it’s language—“I have to, I should,” whether it’s “I should run today,” or “I shouldn’t eat that, I should eat this,” instead of tuning in to my own body, what my body wants and trusting its system that creating an exterior standard which, to me, lines up with my inner critic and a perfectionistic cultural guideline that we’re so living from.

Another place that it plays out in the body is black-and-white thinking and these absolutes that I have found myself at different times getting stuck in, whether it’s the idea—it truly frightens me sometimes, when you have those moments when you realize, “Holy shit, I didn’t realize the extent to which I was living from this unconscious belief,” which is terrifying to me. I see it other people but I think, “Oh no, I’m fine.”

For example, I work with body image. “I love my body! Of course, it’s great. No, I’m not even going to engage with that.” And yet to discover, to a certain level, the way in which my inner critic, my perfectionist values have stripped down and broken apart this self-love, to the point where I have a piece of me that goes, “Unless you are attractive, you’re not valuable. Unless you’re sexy, you’re not a woman. No one would even want you,” and letting in these certain internalized messages that come from such perfectionistic culture, that comes from such gender culture, which is at work on me and realize, “Wow,” and have compassion for myself, and internalize that.

And once I concede that in myself—and it really is about consciousness—and allow that to become conscious, allow [myself] to acknowledge that rather than say, “Oh no, I have no issue. Oh no, that’s not going on with me. What am I talking about?” To acknowledge that, then I get to begin to work with it.

And so for me, the first part and the first and most important step of my process in this battle against perfectionism was to clearly identify the voice of this inner critic. Sometimes it was writing a letter to myself from this inner critic just to hear the tenor of [its] voice, a voice that I know so well, and to go, “That voice is not my voice.”

CP: So you would write a letter to yourself from your inner critic?

ER: Yes. Now, it’s a pretty nasty letter, I’ll be honest. Sometimes it comes out in more subtle ways and sometimes it comes out in pretty explicit ways. But I’m a big fan of journaling. So sometimes I would sit down, and if my inner critic was beating me up, I would write it down. I would go, “OK, you know what? We’re going to sit down and we’re going to write this out.”

So I’d write out everything my inner critic was saying, and then I would look at it and say, “OK, that is the voice of my inner critic. There it is. There’s that voice.” But when I hear it going off in my head, I know it’s not me. I know it’s not my essence, my core, my truest self speaking to me. I know it’s my inner critic, which sometimes is valuable and very often isn’t that valuable or needs to be taken [as] a little bit more of a balancing act.

CP: Yes. Do you feel that, in general—I know that, here you are, in college, the heartland in New England, having the New England collegiate experience—as a teenager, and also as a co-ed in the college arena, do you feel like this is more particular towards girls, or do you see it also in boys? And in [what] ways is this manifesting differently in both genders?

ER: That’s a great question. Well, first of all, I say absolutely I see a much larger manifestation of perfectionism within an academic college, [a] very structured and traditionally masculine format. There is no coincidence that we see a huge rise in perfectionism in a society that’s based on patriarchal values. Surprise, surprise. That’s the system that’s been internalized and I think often we have to be careful about throwing out the old, rigid guidelines that we identify with the patriarchy and then not just taking them on under different guises.

I see a lot of really amazing, what you would call empowered women. I’m [in] Gender and Sexuality Studies here at Brown, and so I’m kind of right in the most feminine of the feminine that you can be in the academic system, and yet the standards of rigid perfectionism—where’s the pleasure? Where’s the breath? Where’s the slow meal? Where’s the delicious enjoyment of the body rather than the utter control of the body? [They’re] really, really not present to a level that saddens and shocks me, especially [for] a young generation in their 20s, teens. I have so much hope that there will be a transformation there, and specifically in this academic bubble, I’m not seeing it.

CP: Are you not seeing people identifying with pleasure that way? Or are you not seeing opportunities to engage in it, presented through high school or college, or both?

ER: Both. I’d say that I’m not seeing pleasure or [respect for] time as [having] pauses. It has a more natural rhythms [that are] connected to our body’s needs, to the earth. I’m not seeing any space for that here. I think there are individuals—there are some great programs being offered and analyzed by the department that look at the soul. But those are severely underattended. Maybe five students out of thousands go to that.

There’s not a break there. It’s an achieve, achieve, achieve [culture] going on, and I do see it as completely gendered. I do think more and more men are internalizing aspects of it, but right now, it is kicking the female ass particularly hard. It’s just not attacking the men in my life on as many different levels as it is the females in my life. It may be attacking them in their work lives, and they get perfectionistic tinged there, but it may not be attacking them in their bodies in the same way or in their family relationships in the same way.

My experience is that with the teenage girls, young women, even older women, the perfectionistic standard is not just attacking their work lives. It’s attacking their relationships, their family dynamics, their friendships, [their relationships] to their bodies, to exercise, to food. It’s kind of being applied across the board.

CP: Right. And what do you think actually happens when someone’s [a] perfectionist? It’s funny because I, myself, have never been a perfectionist in quite this way. I was always like, “Hey, B+, I’ll take it!” All my friends are total perfectionists, and maybe I am a perfectionist in other ways, but I just have other things. This is not my cross to bear.

And yet I know it’s a huge problem. You can just see it in all the eating disorders, and the media doesn’t help any with all the retouching that they do and putting up unrealistic models for us to yearn for. But internally, as a girl, and I’m reaching for perfection, what actually happens? Why can’t we talk to each other, for instance, and say, “You’re feeling this, too? This is bullshit!” What happens that isolates us in this process?

ER: I think [that] right there is the heart of it. If we could really talk to each other—and it’s conversations like this, making “perfectionist” not a buzz word but a real conversation and a real internal presence instead of, “Oh, you know, it’s a big issue with girls.” End of conversation. No, what is the big issue? Why this drive? I do come from, in many ways, a psychology perspective, and for me, so much of it is internalized signals.

For me, a lot of it was about not only proving myself to myself, but I think we have a generation of women, especially really empowered women who bear a kind of feminist mantle saying, “OK, what are we going to do as young women in this generation?” And one of the phrases we’ve internalized from the very beginning was we said we wanted to change the world before we even knew what that meant. “It’s up to you guys!” was the phrase that was dropped off the lips of well-meaning parents and teachers and mentors and coaches, and I think it’s been especially internalized truly by the empathetic girl. I think it’s an emotional function that becomes internalized toward an inner drive.

It’s like, “I care so deeply, so what the heck do I do about it? I see photos that terrify me, I see statistics, I see my friends suffering, and I kick myself into overdrive because I care so deeply.” I think in some ways, it’s not really seeking to heal pieces of the world in which girls let in their truly empathetic feelings for, but it’s a mechanism for running away from sadness, from grief, from letting in what is, in essence, a really beautiful experience of empathy and oneness with the world.

But, of course, in a pretty straight, academic setting, it would hardly be presented as that. It’s presented as cultural guilt or whatever different words we put on it. But truly I think it is, in some aspects, internalized despair. Perfectionism is where we start to attack ourselves. The tragedy is we become our own worst enemy where the standards are never quite good enough.

CP: It’s interesting, what you said was that in your generation the weight of the tragedies that are happening—and you know, it’s all relevant, the tragedies that are happening now were probably relevantly the same as when other generations were growing up. Although that’s hard to believe, because there weren’t people shooting children in schools and things like that.

But I do feel like the nurturing instinct in girls and that intense capacity for empathy and just the intuitive connectiveness we have with the world I don’t think is [just] innately unique to feminine energy. I don’t think it means that the masculine can’t feel that. But we’re sort of born with that awareness of other. And I think it’s a lot of pressure, especially for girls because it is almost the role of the feminine to take care of people. And when there’s so much suffering in the world, I wonder if it’s not part of the equation.

It’s certainly not the whole story. We can talk, once again, about the media and social norms that just keep getting passed down. But I do think that there’s some kind of feeling that the boys don’t necessarily have, some kind of awareness of the suffering of others that puts this extra pressure on.

ER: Well, I also think it’s socialized to a much larger level. And I know that’s said very often. What I mean by that is that I think, in a tragic way, the empathetic function is socialized out of boys in many situations. I’ve witnessed a capacity in some of the most amazing young men I know for this intense feeling function, but the feeling function also comes with things like breaking down sobbing without any explanation—any rational explanation, that is. We don’t have a society where that capability is encouraged. In fact, it’s thoroughly not allowed for most young men in our society.

The tragedy of what is not being valued and seen and reflected back to young boys in themselves [in regards] to the mentoring and parenting their often receiving is a huge loss in the empathetic function that they could be developing in themselves. And I think that with girls, what we’re seeing is not only this empathetic function—which I do believe, if you break down the science, break it down to hormones, there is a lot of biological stuff that’s happening with girls—but there’s also internalization of, as you said, the responsibility to take care of others.

It’s almost like, I call it a “should-ing” function. “You should do this, you should do this, you should do this. You are responsible based on there being nobody else.” If you have a friend who’s not doing well, even if you’re not close to them, my experience is that most girls will go, “Oh, I should do something. I should step in in every situation where I see a vacuum. I am at fault if I don’t step in.”

So without even being asked to take responsibility for the situation, girls are creating space in which they should, should, should. So it’s a crisis, a huge expansion of responsibility, and quite impossible responsibility of trying to predict every scenario, trying to be involved in every friendship, show up for every single person, and often forgetting, of course, to show up for themselves in compassion and kindness that they would, ironically, be fantastic at presenting to another friend.

CP: Right. What’s your part in ameliorating the situation? Of course “solution” is kind of a trite word here because it’s complicated. But what do you recommend for teens? And also a lot of our listeners are going to have moms with tweens and teens and college-aged girls. And you have an incredible relationship with your mom. What are some approaches that you use that have been useful for you growing up and that you recommend?

ER: Gosh, OK. It’s such a multi-layered dilemma that we are living in today as female-bodied people [in a] gendered society. There are just so many layers to it. So [there are] a few different things I’ll start experiencing. First thing is really being conscious of my media consumption, and being a conscious consumer of the pieces that I’m putting in front of myself. Statistics, research shows that however much I say that’s not affecting me, actually consuming all of these images consistently, even though we may tell a part of our brain, “Oh, that’s not real,” the brain isn’t wired to understand that on an innate, unconscious level. We’re actually taking in, “Oh, that’s an image. Oh, that’s an image.” And we see it so repeated, it becomes ubiquitous, it becomes accepted, and it gains status in our inner systems and our inner images.

So being aware of my media consumption and consciously providing myself with alternative images. So not only saying, “OK, I’m not going to do that. Bad me, bad me, I’m not going to read these magazines, I’m not going to look at those TV images,” [but] also providing myself with alternatives and making sure that I have a consumption of awesome kick-ass women in the world who are doing amazing things that inspire me. Specifically embodied women, because so much of this is about the body and how we’ve pretty much left our body in a lot of ways.

Even as we’ve become an exercise-obsessed culture, we’re forgetting—I go to the gym here at school, and what do I see? People running on treadmills watching TV shows or doing homework. So actually, they’re not experiencing the body. They’re not feeling, “Oh, this feels good,” or, “Now I’m tired.” They’re looking at external numbers and they’re [studying for] their stats exam and they’re doing both at the same time while happening to be running. And it’s actually a profound disengagement, which is really dangerous, I think, for learning what your body’s natural cues and desires are for exercise. Because our bodies [do] have a natural desire for exercise.

So that’s my second point that I’d bring it back to. My first is about watching media consumption and providing yourself with alternative images—there are some really cool plus-sized models out there—and just giving yourself different images to make part of your inner tapestry and your inner landscape as you imagine the beauty of the variety of the female form. Giving yourself true variety.

The second piece, I’d say is find a way for yourself to really experience being in your body. And I mean that so deeply. For some people, it’s going to be a meditation. For some people, it’s just going to be desk work. For some people it’s going to be lying [in] starfish on their bed, doing a mental body scan as they check in from the top of their hair and head down through their body, out their elbows, feeling in their stomach and their knees into their toes, and just being present in the body, with the body, for 10 minutes. Doing that for yourself. What if that was a priority and a delicious moment? For some people, it’s going to be running, but it’s going to be running without headphones and it’s going to be running outside, if that’s possible, and doing it as like, “This is a gift to myself,” rather than a “should” that’s connected to the tone of my thighs.

And starting to reframe the way in which we approach exercise and being in the body and making that a daily practice. “What is my gift to my body today? What is it? It’s essential, it’s urgent, it’s necessary. Nothing holds a higher priority. And making sure I’m getting at least 15 minutes in my body today,” in some people’s lives. If you need an hour, get an hour. Finding that practice and really showing up in your body. Not an external scan of the body, not an external, “How’s it looking today?” No, what does it feel like to be you today? What does it feel like?

It might even be an inner dialogue. It might be actually just a practice of trying to just release the inner dialogue and live in your stomach. What’s it like to be in your stomach? And that can be kind of scary sometimes. Sometimes there’s so much stuff that we talk up in there. There’s so much stuff that we lodge in the body and sometimes it doesn’t feel safe to actually live there and to actually drop down into the body.

One of the exercises I do when I teach body image workshops, whether it’s for teenagers, or—I’m launching a new series working with women on bodies, women of all ages. I’ll be teaching at Epsilon this summer in August. One of the exercises that I do with women and with teenagers, girls and boys, is [ask,] “What are you carrying wear in your body?” So the internalized [idea,] whether it’s a comment our moms said when we were 14, or it’s an injury, or it is a place where we know certain emotions live. I know where my anxiety lives in my body. I know where my self-loathing lives. It usually lives in my thighs, and that’s scary for me to admit. I put my hands on my thighs and go, “Ouch. Wow. There’s so much there.”

So part of altering emotional intelligence is starting to [think about] where is it in my body that I’ve taken in these pieces, these emotions, these wounds, these ultimate happinesses and these joys and these touches of pleasure? What is my body a map for and how can I become more conscious of that and find the support in the container outside of that to be able to deal with some of that? Maybe that’s physical therapy, maybe that’s a meditation practice, a spirituality practice. But what is there that I’m carrying in my body so that I can begin to work with it so that I can more fully inhabit my body?

CP: Right. So less about cultivating a love for the body and more about just bringing awareness to it. Is that what I’m hearing?

ER: I think that’s the first step. The first step is really about awareness, and I really hesitate to throw—I think “body love” gets thrown out too much and inappropriately. And it’s kind of intimidating to go from feeling a self-loathing to an adoration. The real goal is actually body acceptance. That’s the goal right there.

How can I accept that this is myself? First of all, I am this body. It isn’t a possession of mine, this is me. So how can I accept that? How can I accept that this is the body that I’ve been given in this world, on this earth? This is my genetic inheritance. How can I live with my set point, with my body’s natural shape, form, weight, color, tone? How do I accept that and how can I come to greater acceptance? That is the goal, instead of, “OK, I’ve got to get to total self-adoration and that’s the only way I’ll be happy.” Which is a myth, I think.

CP: Right. We touched on this, about the book with your mom. What advice do you have for moms who have, once again, tweens, teens, and college-age, or even higher, that are raising girls to have more of an awareness of their bodies in more of a self-acceptance—maybe they’re not quite there yet. What do you recommend for the moms?

ER: Well, the first thing I’d say—this is obviously such important work, and mothers have such an exciting role to play in their daughters’ lives. Instead of being a huge negative burden, like, “Oh gosh, I better deal with my teenage daughter’s body stuff,” think, “Cool.” You get to act as a protection mechanism and a different role model for her. That’s aweseome.

So in telling yourself, in that way, that, “Yes, great, OK, what can I do to be part of doing this for my teenage girl?” The first thing that I’d say is [to] do your own work as a mother on your own relationship to your body and what the matrimonial inheritance is that you’ve handed down. How does your mother treat her body? And your grandmother? And how did they treat your body? What are the stories and the messages that you’ve been told, and the implicit stories that are signals—your body language, your traumas, whatever else may be in our linage. Watch and be aware for what that narrative is and working on it yourself.

Because one of the most significant things is being able to catch yourself with things like negative comments to your own body. Even if you’re complimenting your daughter, she’s going to notice, she’s going to see, and she’s going to pick up on your emotions, your comments, your feelings about your own relationship to your body. And if it’s something you’re working on, and you know that, “Wow, this is something that I’m working on. I can’t promise that I can be perfect for my daughter right now.”

What I would instead emphasize is appropriate boundaries around that. Say, “OK, this is something I’m working on. I’m going to deal with this with a friend rather than engaging in any kind of dialogue with my daughter until I’m able to speak to her with a little bit more of a balance. If I’m stuck in a negative place with my body, I know I’m going to get help for that, I’m going to work with that, and I’m going to consciously, perhaps, go [to] therapy [with] somebody who specializes in these issues to support me, to help me. Because it is urgent if I want to be able to be there for my daughter.” The first thing I’d say is do your own work around your relationship to body, food, weight. Often that ties into gender, women’s work, etc.

The other things I’d say about supporting your daughter is make your house or your home or the place that you have for her an alternative space. So no scales in the house. Get those external numbers out. My mom raised me in a house without scales. It was one of the biggest gifts. Now, sometimes people need scales for health reasons. That’s a separate issue for very specific health issues. But otherwise, get external numbers and external code of the house. And make it a place where the question in the morning isn’t, “How much do I weigh?” but, “How do I feel in my body this morning?”

Because weight and numbers change so much. Creating an alternative space for your daughter around numbers and external—whether it’s keeping magazines out of the house, making certain guidelines. When you have a teenage girl, you do have control over certain things in their lives. You can say, “This is my house, these are our family values, and this is what it’s like to live in this space. And I get to say that in this space, I don’t like to support magazines that show these kinds of images.” And instead of saying, “Just because I’m mom,” say why, say how. Talk about your relationship with your body honestly.

Because that’s what she’s going to learn the most, about how difficult it can be sometimes to be a women in this world, and how you are dealing with it is going to be one of the biggest lessons that she is going to take away—how you are honestly engaging with the ups and downs of having a female body in this world, in this culture, and in our society. I would say the second one, then, is to create an alternative home environment, an alternative culture within where she can escape from school, from the friend dynamics that might be throwing her off, from the internet dynamics, and feel at home in her body.

And the third one, I’d say, is very simple. And that would be just laugh. Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh about it. It’s not a serious conversation. It’s like a belly laugh, where you’re like, “Isn’t this ridiculous? Look at this!” Some of my favorite writers who look at these issues around bodies and mothers and daughters is like, “Sometimes you’ve just got to put on some music and dance around and shake it and laugh hysterically that this what we’re dealing with, and here’s my body. Isn’t it funny? Look how my thighs jiggle! Isn’t that cool? Isn’t it awesome that feet carry me around?” Get goofy with it and get real about it. Get back into our bodies and get out of our heads and just say, “Hey, here it is. Here’s this body, this silly, lovely, soft, delicious, smart human body. And that is who I am. And to be in it is to really be here, and it’s a struggle sometimes. I’m struggling too. Let’s do this together.”

CP: Cool. I love it. We’re pretty much out of time. If you were to give one piece of advice for girls around your age, plus even younger, what would you give them when facing that inner critic?

ER: One [piece of] advice to give teenage girls when facing that inner critic. One [piece of] advice I’d say is that as teenage girls are often told the message and asked the question, “Why are you here on this earth? Why are you living this life? What are you doing, what are you doing it for?” And maybe it’s a question we’re not consciously engaging with. It’s one of the biggest questions of the teenage years and of the transition into adulthood.

And what we teenage girls often forget in the face of perfectionism, in the face of the many inner critics that are pushing us to do more, be more, prove that we’re that we’re valuable—to our mothers, to our fathers, to our grandparents, to our friends, to the people who we may be attracted to, whatever that is—is that we’re living this life that really nobody else [is living] other than ourselves. The question is, what do you really want to do with this life of yours? And it’s never too young to ask that question and start to create real, truthful answers for yourself.

And I think when we check into an emotional, compassionate place, we’re not going to find an answer of selfishness, fear, like check out of the inner critic. “Am I supposed to be this selfish, self-involved individual?” And the answer is no. When we really check in, I believe, to who we are, what we want, what lights us up, gets us out of bed in the morning, makes this life worth living, we enter a deeper, more compassionate place for ourselves and for others.

And that’s my biggest advice and my tips for teenage girls. In those moments of panic, in those moments of, “My paper isn’t in, and I’m a failure, and I’ve messed it up again, and if people would have known me they would have loved me,” just the voice of the inner critic, take a deep breath and go, “Right. A little perspective. I’m living this life for me. I’m not living my mother’s unlived life, I’m not living my father’s unlived life, I’m not living a life that has [the] expectations of some media headline trash-talking my generation. I’m living this life for myself. OK, deep breath. Now, what do I want to do with this day?”

CP: Nice. I think that’s relevant for women of all ages, probably up to 99.9. [Laughs]

ER: [Laughs] Yes, that’s a big one.

CP: It’s great. Oh, it’s so great to hear such a fresh perspective and to tap into the younger generation. What is your generation called? Are you a Millennium? What is it called?

ER: A Millennial. But there’s also a really cool group that calls ourselves the “We Generation,” W-E. And it looks at us as a globalized generation that, for the first time, is super connected across a global culture, is more diverse than ever, interracial, intercultural marriages and children are being produced at a high, high level compared to the past generations. And they see it as a positive potential of my generation, to be more connected, to be more compassionate, and to really work the framework of connectedness. I think that that is one of the biggest promises of my generation.

CP: Fabulous! I love it!

ER: Yes! I’m excited about that.

CP: Cool. Well, it’s been such a pleasure, Eliza. Thank you so much.

ER: Oh, it’s such a pleasure, Chantal!

CP: Thank you so much for being here today.

ER: Same to you.

 

 

[ew-audio-download headline=”Free Audio Download” subheadline=”Power Practices, Vol. 1 Women Who Are Changing the World”]

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