“Dare to upgrade yourself”
She was recently named one of the 20 most inspiring women in Ukraine and you only need to spend a few minutes in Alla Klymenko’s electrifying company to see why. During our rendez-vous in Kiev, the radiantly pregnant powerhouse shared her secrets for happiness and explained the 4 different types of ‘ice cream personalities’. “Things don’t happen TO us; they happen FOR us.”
Marlies: Alla, you and I have so much in common. I may be a Dutch designer and you may be a psychologist from Ukraine, but we have the exact same goal: to empower women. We first met during one of my ‘Unlock your potential’ workshops, and we just really clicked.
Alla: We did! You gave me a sticker that says, ‘I am as beautiful, as sensual, as desirable as I believe myself to be’. I put it on my bathroom mirror to see it every day, and so did my mom, who doesn’t even speak English! You are just such an inspiration to us.
Marlies: Thank you! I love how the message of self-love transcends language and culture.
Alla: Yes, we really need the reminder. As women, we still have such a hard time loving ourselves and accepting compliments. For example, when someone tells us we look lovely, why do we dismiss it by saying things like: “Oh, I’m just wearing an old dress!” Why can’t we own the compliment and say: “Yes, I agree; I look great today!’? I believe every woman deserves to be happy, but I also believe she has to make it happen HERSELF. So, stop waiting for that ‘perfect’ body to be happy. Stop waiting for the day your prince arrives on his white horse. Take each day and make it happy. Starting now!
Marlies: After studying happiness for 9 years now, you can rightfully call yourself a happiness expert. You have written motivational diaries, you conduct hugely popular workshops that help people ‘upgrade’ themselves. What is your most important insight?
Alla: To achieve happiness it is very important that we have a sense of control. Unfortunately, we focus too much on controlling things outside ourselves; we try to change people or fix situations, often to no avail. Instead, you should look inside yourself for things to control! Some examples: your thoughts, your feelings, your beliefs, the number of times you say, ‘I love you’ (also to yourself!), the time you spend on social media, etc., etc. Also, we need to realize that things don’t happen TO us; they happen FOR us. They are challenges that eventually make us stronger.
Marlies: Our thoughts are an incredibly powerful tool.
Alla: Yes, just look at the statistics: we have about 70.000 thoughts a day, 95% of which we keep repeating. Research also shows that 80% of our thoughts are actually negative! So, we need to ask questions: ‘Is what I’m thinking true? Is it my own thought or is it something my mother told me when I was little?’. Perhaps a classmate once told you something negative about yourself, and now, 20 years later, you are still believing and repeating it.
Marlies: How can you change a negative thought pattern?
Alla: Have you heard of ‘reticular formation’? It’s a very important system in your brain that filters incoming information and has a huge impact on the thoughts you have every day. For example, if you are pregnant, you see pregnant women everywhere.
Marlies: That is so true!
Alla: Similarly, if you believe that all men are bad, you will see proof of that everywhere. So, the first step is to become aware of this system in your brain, and then you ‘upgrade’ it. Write down your deepest dreams and desires; come up with positive affirmations and repeat them like a mantra. Every moment of the day, you have a choice: you can either tell yourself that you are ugly and useless, or you can look at yourself as beautiful and say ‘I love you’ to yourself. If you want to manifest great things in the outside world, you need to have great thoughts inside first.
Marlies: Can you tell me about your ‘ice cream theory’?
Alla: I came up with 4 types of ‘ice cream personalities’ as an allegory for attitudes towards life and happiness. The first type of people goes for ice cream that is neither healthy nor tasty. They cannot enjoy the moment, neither do enjoy planning for the future. They are stuck in the past. People who prefer ice cream that is tasty, but not healthy have a hedonistic attitude with too little concern for the future, whereas if you go for the opposite -ice cream that is healthy, but not tasty- there is a danger that you postpone your happiness and don’t seize the moment. The trick is to develop a taste for ice cream that is both healthy and tasty. Which means getting to a point where you do things that are enjoyable now, but also good for you in the long run.
Marlies: Sounds like a great recipe for happiness, thank you Alla!
When I have trouble sleeping, I think of Donna D’Cruz. Or rather, I hear her whisper in my ear, in her incredibly sexy Australian accent: “Breathe in, breathe out…”. It works, every time. Meet the real life goddess who uses music, meditation, and the magic of sleep to reawaken women’s true power. “We are human beings, not human doings.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What a beautiful whirlwind 2018 has been! As I’m about to ring in the new year, I would like to take a moment and look back at an amazing year with you.
JULIA & I
– 3 reasons why Julia Child is one of my favorite feminine feminists –
Dare to indulge!
All my work as a feminist designer is inspired by muses. Powerful female icons from past and present. Although women have been marginalized for centuries, archetypes of female power have always been there. Through my designs, I bring them to you. To help us shape the world of modern-day feminism.