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Subconscious Mind Expert Shares Take-Home Message From ‘Barbie’ With Mothers Of Girls

Written by: Iva Perez, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Iva Perez

Team Barbie or not, this is the movie’s message for mothers of daughters that cannot be glossed over with Barbie pink.

Barbie doll in pink shirt and gray pants

It’s the nostalgia of a bygone era of our lives.

Playing pretend, sipping from empty cups, and pouring invisible tea.

It’s a coming-of-age story that most women can identify with.

This powerful connection to our childhoods is one of the main reasons the new live-action Barbie movie is taking the world by storm.

According to Director Greta Gerwig, part of the movie’s plot is inspired by the notion of how teenage girls radically change from childhood into adolescence. Gerwig explains: “They’re funny and brash and confident, and then they just—stop. How is this journey the same thing that a teenage girl feels? All of a sudden, she thinks, Oh, I’m not good enough.”

The movie also dives into the zeitgeist of what most adult women are feeling in today’s world. A sentiment echoed by America Ferrara’s character in a poignant monologue.

Whether you are Team Barbie or not, this movie deserves a watch. Especially if you have a daughter. And here’s why.

The above themes tend to form the bulk of my practice as a subconscious mind expert. My clients are both women and teenage girls struggling with inner beliefs that make them feel unworthy and not enough.

This recent ‘Barbie’ momentum hopefully helps bring awareness to these struggles while this article helps highlight a powerful tool available for women and their daughters so that they can feel empowered, fulfilled and have more enjoyment in their lives.

Let’s start with mom barbie

Women are unwell for a reason and that is why America Ferrera's monologue in ‘Barbie’ hits a nerve.

Spoiler alert.

Women are described as sabotaging overachievers: stretched out thin, trying to juggle so many balls in the air, attempting to have a career or a business, and raising children. They usually want to do it perfectly and on their own. They also feel like they’re failing miserably at every turn.

Despite seemingly having the world at their fingertips through access to information on any subject that they could think of, life still comes without a manual on how to manage it all.

Sometimes women’s lives look like a long-running cliché_that of a ‘busy, always-on-the-go, have-a-million-things-to-do, don’t-have-time, where-are-my-keys’ type of woman.

Women, and especially mothers, continue to struggle by wearing many hats, leading busy, stressful lives, and looking after everyone but themselves.

Ferrara’s monologue hits hard because this collective despair is happening silently.

Many women wake up with a sense of dread, anxiety, or sadness; feeling unappreciated and overwhelmed at work.

And at home, they feel mentally and physically exhausted, with just enough energy to take care of the kids, fix a meal, and plop onto the couch. Then they wake up and do it all over again.

Ferrara’s character in the movie doesn’t offer a solution. “It's too hard!”, she exclaims. “It's too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.”

Trying to live up to this dysfunctional way of life puts women at odds with themselves_ intensifying feelings of ‘not good enough’.

It also sets them up for failure.

The truth is, women can avoid all the wheat, dairy, sugar, work out, meditate, and focus half the day on their breathing...but if they are not willing to go to the root cause of what is making them feel inwardly at odds, they’re only dealing with the symptoms and putting a proverbial band-aid on a hemorrhage.

It all starts in those early years

Imagine going down Barbie’s Dreamhouse slide, all the way down to those early teenage years or even earlier.

Director Greta Gerwig confesses to being perplexed about that sudden shift in a girl’s life when she goes from the playfulness of Barbie pink to sulking and wearing all black.

But this shift is less daunting when we understand the biology at play in these early years and what can be done to mitigate the sudden eruption of not-enoughness that seems to plague teenage girls and later follows them well into adulthood.

A few biological reasons explain why this happens:

1. The way our brain is designed

Our mind is not here to make us happy. Its main purpose is to keep us safe and alive. To do this, it needs an emergency broadcast system. In her book Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning explains that cortisol creates the feeling that humans call “pain”. When it surges, we call it “fear” and when it dribbles, we call it “anxiety” or “stress”.

Because of the way we are wired, humans are not born feeling fear as such, but rather we build our security alarms from the neural pathways that are wired whenever cortisol surges in our body. The more cortisol is in our bloodstream, the more ingrained these neural pathways are. If this frequently happens, because the cortisol is just electricity flowing down a well-oiled brain circuitry, there will come a point where our brain doesn’t know why it released the cortisol. It will become hard to pinpoint what is activating it as this has now become just a repeated pattern of behavior.

Young girls who grow up constantly feeling a sense of dread from these cortisol warnings may grow up internalizing that something is off. And they can create faulty interpretations along the way- i.e., thinking there’s something wrong with them. The more cortisol is released, the body re-creates more of the same reaction, making the response both automatic and a habit.

Since a young mind is not yet capable of understanding that this has become a habit of thought within her, she will feel helpless and hopeless in being able to change this. This is the precursor to the not feeling enough syndrome that takes hold later in life.

When teens are left to their own devices to deal with these feelings, the beliefs that are myelinated from these experiences happen without filter, and may lead to the onset of chronic anxiety, depression, and struggles throughout adulthood.

2. Social pain is an inevitable part of growing up

Humans are social mammals, finding survival in the safety of the tribe. Initially, children need their parents’ approval because their livelihoods depend on it. Later, the bonds created with their parents help teenagers develop social connections with people outside of their families just as most mammals are wired to find mates outside of their immediate circle. At this stage, young girls will listen to their peers and other parents with attention but not readily listen to their mothers.

This is where social pain starts to increase. Understanding what happens during the programming years is key for parents. Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning explains that “social pain warns you of a threat to your social bonds the same way physical pain warns you of a threat to your body”.

Teenage girls want to feel they belong to a social group, and they might have to accept the group’s sense of threat to belong. Whatever feels threatening to their peers, a teenager has the option to either dismiss it in her head or share it to belong. She might face exclusion if she doesn’t as her peers might expect her to empathize with their struggles and threats.

But most girls lack a robust sense of self-worth and confidence in following what feels right at the expense of looking out of place. And even if they do, they must contend with social pain. The bad feeling of being ignored is felt even more heavily when watching others get more attention. This is another way the feeling of not-enoughness creeps in young girls.

3. Mirror neurons

Little girls and teenagers watching their mothers be on a constant cortisol rollercoaster (whether we call it stress, anxiety, panic, or fear) grow up internalizing that something awful will happen if they don’t act fast.

According to the book, Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels, we don’t mirror everything we see in others. Mirror neurons fire when you watch someone get a reward or face a threat. So, if Mom is constantly in fight or flight mode, this is what her daughter is silently mirroring for herself as well.

Daughters view their mothers as their reference point on what it means to be a woman for better or for worse. And they are paying close attention.

If a girl grows up in a household with an anxious mother or a female figure in her life who tends to accept less than what truly fulfills them, staying in jobs that don’t inspire them or make them happy, or who is merely coping until the kids are out of the house, guess what?

Her mirror neurons will build connections that wire similar behaviors to avoid threats in the way that she has seen her mother do. But because the threat is not concrete, because it is an open loop of constant worry and stress, this daughter will quickly accept that her fate will be similar.

If mom can’t fight and cannot win, neither will I.”

Sad skipper

In my practice, I encounter many teens and pre-teens who share stories of how close peers are already battling anxiety, depression, and self-harm.

The feeling of belonging is especially strong at this stage. And deeper than that, the pain of not feeling enough could be leading these young girls to self-harm to avoid social pain and numb themselves in the process.

Of course, this mechanism doesn’t ever work.

‘Barbie’ illustrates how, just like in real life, things can go on a downward spiral based on a limiting thought that gains momentum.

Beliefs are just thoughts that we keep thinking.

However, we keep thinking these thoughts because we have powerfully internalized them during those early programming years.

Girls that indulge in self-inflicted pain end up in a downward spiral in which they need to do more of it and more drastically to feel the same initial feeling of euphoria that is secreted by endorphins which kick in to help mask the pain.

Regardless of what end of the Barbie spectrum you fall into, the Barbie movie fosters the conversation between women and mothers on how we can empower young girls to face the world that awaits them.

When looking to reprogram unhelpful limiting beliefs and unwanted behaviors in children and teens, Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT®)- Hypnotherapy is a pioneering and award-based based modality that has proven effective.

My invitation to mothers is that regardless of whether they have seen the Barbie movie or not, or whether they like Barbie or not, is that we collectively rally to help our girls and daughters to adopt beliefs and ways of thinking that will help them show up in their most authentic and powerful way – regardless of the external world that awaits them.

The collective aspiration should be to raise a new generation of women who are living their best lives at every stage because they believe they are enough no matter what.

The ‘Barbie’ phenomenon has shone the spotlight on this all-important conversation in the hopes our daughters’ coming-of-age story takes a more positive turn that is pink fantastic.

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Iva Perez Brainz Magazine

Iva Perez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Iva Perez is on a mission to help 1,000 women and entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success, confidence and freedom. She has successfully merged 20 years of corporate experience with her studies on the Science of the Mind into her role as a Licensed Transformational Hypnotherapist and is endorsed by UK’s No. 1 Therapist, Marisa Peer. She helps women and entrepreneurs drop the overwhelm and anxiety and, instead, create new subconscious beliefs to facilitate powerful transformations. This way, mothers can successfully navigate the overlap between work and family life. Iva is the co-host of the Top Ranked podcast, Mom Bosses Abroad as well as an avid speed reader and matcha evangelist.



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