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We all have it: a voice inside our heads that tells us what we can and cannot do and undermines our self-esteem. Sometimes it’s cruel. Sometimes it’s condescending. Most of the time, it’s completely inaccurate.
If we’re not mindful, it can limit our ability to live peaceful, purposeful lives, guided by our interests and passions. We need to love ourselves to love our lives, and in order to love ourselves, we need to be good to ourselves.
Author and speaker Christine Arylo has made a career out of helping women develop self-love and silence their “inner mean girls.”
In 2001, Christine’s fiancé (and boyfriend of 15 years) confessed that he no longer loved her, on the way to their engagement party—and that he’d been cheating on her. After realizing she’d never learned to love herself, she embarked on a spiritual journey, and in the process, transformed herself and her life.
In her book Choosing ME before WE, Christine shares stories, insights, and exercises to help women come to know themselves and learn to put themselves first.
If you’ve ever felt stuck in an unfulfilling relationship (or recognized an unhealthy pattern in your love life), this book may help you create meaningful change from the inside out.
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1. What motivated you to write this book?
After watching woman after woman I loved—smart women, beautiful women—struggle in relationships—divorced, stuck in unhappy relationships they couldn’t leave—my heart was breaking.
I had been that woman—overstayed in a 15-year relationship, unaware I was afraid of so many things that kept me stuck, not just in the wrong relationship but the wrong life. When I finally faced the truth of how that happened, what I realized was that I was a smart woman with a lot of self-esteem but without self-love.
That began a now decade long journey to fall in love with myself. Choosing ME before WE takes readers along the same journey to finally find love and a fabulous relationship by finding it first within themselves.
2. You start your book by sharing how your ex-boyfriend of 15 years broke up with you right before your engagement party—and then told you he’d been cheating for six months. What insight helped you the most in moving on?
I remember standing in my living room eight months after “the event.” I was still mad, hurt and running all kinds of b.s. stories through my mind about what had happened. How he was wrong and I was right.
There was this book sitting on my desk that jumped out at me. It had been there for months but I just saw it, and so I opened it up to see what message it had for me. I’ll never forget the words that changed my life and in an instant and allowed me to forgive my ex-person.
The pages read, “You cannot be angry with a person for hurting you because they were just being who they are. It was you who had other expectations of that person that must take the blame, for you expected them to be someone other than who they truly are.” Ouch. True. And Freeing.
3. You’re known as a self-love expert and transformational teacher. What are three things we couldn’t learn about you through a Google search?
That my first ever rock concert was Boy George and Culture Club—what can I say, I just love to dress up in costume!
I have two beautiful “goddess daughters” Lucy and Janey who I go to see every year for their birthdays. We take a whole day, bust them out of school, pick a theme, dress up, and spend the entire day loving them. Each year for their birthday I also write them a letter about who they are at that time, as well as about their mom, my best friend Anne, and the world. Someday in the future I will give it to them.
When I met my soul partner Noah, I was so freaked out by how much love he gave so freely, I tried to pawn him off on my sister! Too much love for my closed heart to take. Lucky I got over that.
4. What does it mean to choose “me” before “we”?
Some people think it means being selfish, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s not choosing me instead of we. Choosing ME before WE is a message of self-empowerment, self-respect, and self-honor to say “I deserve to have only loving, respectful relationships in my life that support me in having the best, most happiest life I can.”
So often we choose relationships that don’t support our best selves or best lives, but stay because we “love” the person or because we aren’t complete and whole within ourselves. Choosing ME before WE says you have to choose love for yourself first, to look for love from yourself first, to take responsibility for having the life you came here to have—and that in that choice you will always make the best relationship choices for yourself and others, even when it’s hard.
5. Why do you think we beat ourselves up so easily and often?
We live in a society that has beat the belief “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH” into our psyches since we could read a magazine or watch a reality TV show. Consumerism and materialism—which drive our culture—are all about making people feel like they don’t have enough, haven’t done enough, and are not enough as they are, so they will buy and consume more and look to the outside for answers and validation.
In this system, where your self-worth is tied to an external value system, you can never measure up, so you always feel like you are failing, falling behind, and not doing as well as every one else. Our orientation is to compare ourselves, not accept ourselves, and as soon as comparison comes up, you lose.
All of this makes us feel inadequate, unloved, and incapable, which we don’t want to express to others, and even to ourselves. So we stay quiet, thinking we are the only ones, when in truth almost all women—and girls—unfortunately in our society are extremely hard on themselves.
6. What would you say are the most important elements of self-care?
Asking yourself what you need and making sure you get it, without apology and without fail. Something so simple, that we hardly ever do, is stop every day to ask ourselves, “What do you need?” Really when was the last time you asked yourself that when you woke up in the morning or throughout the day?
Likely, you have asked others that way more than yourself. We have been programmed to give not receive. Self-care requires that you ask yourself everyday, “What do you need to receive today?”
I recommend doing this first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. Open your eyes, close your eyes, and then ask the question and listen to your inner wisdom for the answers. Whatever the answer is, you have to do that thing for yourself, no matter what.
Then throughout the day, ask yourself “What do you need?” in the moment, to stop and listen, and then follow through, regardless of what else is pulling on you for attention. This one practice can change your life. Try it for 40 days and see what happens!
7. I’ve heard a great deal about your “Inner Mean Girl Reform School.” What inspired you to create this?
There is a silent epidemic happening among women that we aren’t talking about, and that is robbing the spirits of our young girls in the process. We women silently beat ourselves up for everything we are not or haven’t done all the time.
And while you may not be able to see the black and blue marks on our bodies, if you were to look at our hearts and spirits, you would see them there. Lots of people talk about the inner critic and negative self-talk, but why I co-founded Inner Mean Girl Reform School with Amy Ahlers, author of Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves, is that it’s really much more personal and hurtful than the psychological theory of the inner critic.
When we are so hard on ourselves, it can feel like you are back in 7th grade being tormented by the mean girls. We noticed that when women came together and told the truth about what they were saying to themselves, and were able to name, draw, and embody their Inner Mean Girls as separate entities, great transformation occurred.
Women left bad relationships, lost 20 pounds, started new careers, moved to new cities, and, most of all, started to really give themselves a break—to really become compassionate and loving to themselves, releasing the perfection, comparison, unrealistic expectations, gossip, etc.
And this transformation meant they could make better decisions in their relationships, businesses, careers, health, and everything. My Inner Mean Girl, the Comparison Queen Mean Patty, almost robbed me of my joy and success when it came to publishing Choosing ME before WE.
When I transformed her into my talent scout instead of my comparison queen, I met Amy, and viola, now we have a school in which over 15,000 people have taken one of our classes and transformed their relationship with themselves tremendously.
8. What motivated you to focus your efforts on women specifically?
It was really a divine assignment. One day, standing in my living room, I began dancing with a friend who had just gone through a divorce and was having a really hard time. As we were dancing, a message dropped in and said, “You, Christine, go out and inspire and teach women and girls how to fall madly in love with themselves!”
I thought, me? What? Day by day, I listened and stepped into it, and now I am known as the Queen of Self-Love, the founder of Madly in Love with ME, and the creator of the international day of self-love on Feb 13th.
I believe that self-love is for everyone, and I always have a few brave men that take my programs, buy my books, and come to my talks—and I welcome that!
There is something magical that happens when women can witness other women. I know that if I can help the women, I can help the children, and if we can make sure our children are born in love with themselves and stay in love with themselves, then I we can create a world of love. That would be a great world to live in!
9. What is the main message you hope readers take away from this book?
The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. Know yourself, be honest with yourself, love yourself, and trust yourself—and never ever settle for less than your heart desire. You deserve to only have loving, respectful relationships, starting with the one with yourself!
Learn more about Choosing ME Before WE on Amazon.
FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site.