Becoming Flawesome With Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani

The Art of Badassery with Jenn Cassetta | Kristina Mänd Lakhiani | Becoming Flawesome

You are awesome as you are, imperfections and all. Don’t let society tell you otherwise and hold you back from living your imperfectly authentic life. Join Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, the co-founder of Mindvalley, as she tells us how to be “flawesome” with wisdom from her book, Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life. Kristina candidly shares her evolution through personal growth, drawing on experiences with The Silva Method and navigating challenges like aging and divorce. She then dives deep into societal expectations of women’s appearance and introduces the “scale of flawesomeness,” where she passionately advocates for embracing imperfections and highlights the intrinsic value found in the journey of self-love. With insightful analogies and anecdotes on success, self-fulfillment, and self-love, Kristina guides us on the path to understanding and fostering a healthy relationship with oneself. Embrace and celebrate your whole self. Embark on a journey to authentic living today!

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Becoming Flawesome With Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani

I cannot wait to share this amazing guest with you. Her name is Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani.

Jen, it’s so nice to be on your show.

I’m so excited to have you. I’m going to read a quick little bio for Kristina before we dive in and get to know her, but Kristina is the Cofounder of Mindvalley, the world’s most powerful life transformation platform with an ever-growing 20 million strong following. That is impressive. She’s a bestselling author, international speaker, entrepreneur, artist, and philanthropist based in Estonia.

She’s the author of the book, Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life. A little bit about the book. Being described as ten years’ worth of therapy in one book, Becoming Flawesome is a celebration of our whole selves, warts, and all, and the glory that is to be found in living in our truth. Becoming Flawesome dives deep into the power of embracing every imperfection and learning how these very quirks become the pathways to our most authentic selves. Kristina, I am so glad you wrote this and I’m so excited to dive in.

Thank you so much. By the way, I’m not used to being introduced as a bestselling author yet. It’s not very long time ago when it was published, but yeah, it’s a transition into a new role now.

Isn’t that exciting? When did it come out exactly?

It came out actually in July of 2023, but it takes time before you reach any achievements. It’s going to come out in paperback.

The Silva Method

Everyone reading out there, I want to share a little bit about my experience with Kristina. First of all, Mindvalley is a huge education platform for personal development and growth. If you don’t know it, I highly suggest you check it out. It is the first podcast that I started listening to and probably still one of the only. I absolutely think it’s phenomenal and such an amazing tool and obviously, 20 million people following, that’s pretty impressive. I do want you to talk more about that.

My personal experience with Kristina is this. I took a Mindvalley intuition training back at the end of 2018 and essentially, Kristina, you could tell us more about it, but it was a meditation seminar where Kristina led the meditations and you’re going to start to become mesmerized by her voice because now it’s so tapped in. It’s so ingrained in my subconscious mind that every single morning, I have not missed a meditation since that day. Literally not one. It’s finally the thing that did it for me. I dabbled in meditation for years and finally, I will not miss a day of meditation and I still have your countdown in my head. 3, 2, 1, I’m in.

I can’t take the credit for that, of course, because it’s a Silva Method that you’re talking about. The Silva Method was created in the 1970s by Jose Silva who has passed away. It’s interesting how intertwined it is with Mindvalley because the Silva Method did give the beginning to Mindvalley. We are now divorced from the Founder of Mindvalley, the famous founder of Mindvalley Vishen Lakhiani. When we got married and lived in New York, by the way, in 2003, he actually was working a day job and teaching Silva, Silva meditations and the Silva technique was his side job. New York life is very expensive.

Mindvalley actually started because we tried to get more people into the classes and at that time, I was not interested in either business or personal growth, but being a good wife, I actually helped my then-husband with his trainings. I happened to be with the Silva Method for such a long time. That was 2003. If we fast forward to 2009, I started Mindvalley in Russian language and we started with Silva meditations as well and we translated Silva meditations. In fact, I was so perfectionist that I had to go through all the edits into Russian myself to make sure that it’s properly translated and I got sucked into it. Believe it or not, I’m not officially a Silva instructor, but I can probably teach it better than most of the Silva instructors because I’ve been with this method for such a long time.

I have so many questions. First, for everyone reading, can you give a few bullet points of what the Jose Silva Method is like?

Yeah, it’s actually interesting. The specificity of this method lies in the fact that it was created in the 1970s. The way Jose stumbled upon it was because he was trying to help his kids to study. He was working on homework with them and then he noticed that when they were getting drowsy and dozing off already in the evening before school, but his daughter actually was answering his questions while he was forming them in his mind.

He was very curious about hypnosis and ESP, but of course, in the 1970s, he couldn’t go out and teach people ESP or intuition. It’s not 2024 where it’s okay. Anyone can say that they meditate and do whatnot, but in those days, people would look at you like you were crazy. He came up with a method that was disguising behind very practical things such as headache control, sleep control or memory improvement.

It’s interesting because he had this four-day training in the old days where the first two days were dedicated to very practical things and he explained literally you relax. It’s always been, to a degree, scientific. In the relaxed state of mind, your brain waves slow down to alpha rhythm and so on, and you become more open to all sorts of suggestions and then your memory becomes better. All your skills become better.

In the last two days, we’re dedicated to ESP and intuition and Jose himself said that the idea of his method was to train intuition. That was always the end goal and everything else was to lure people into it and to make them interested. Once you start studying it, it’s not so scary for those who are skeptics. I got into this method as a skeptic. I haven’t told that, but I was born in the Soviet Union and I was raised in the Soviet Union.

I remember my first Silva training as a story. I got married to Vishen in 2003. I lived in Estonia, a post-Soviet country. We moved to New York and the first weekend he says, “I have a training to conduct. Do you want to come with me or will you hang out by yourself your first weekend as a wife?” I’m like, “Of course, I’ll come with you.” I come to this training and then he starts teaching intuition. I’m very skeptical. I’m from the Soviet Union. I’m like, “What is going on? Why didn’t you tell me that before we got married? What are you teaching?”

You didn’t even know?

No. I remember my first exercise. It wasn’t telepathy but it was when you try to read the object and I couldn’t concentrate. I was laughing and giggling and I thought that the world had gone mad.

What she’s saying is you actually take a rock or some object and you have to transport yourself inside of it.

You tell what you can see about it. I thought that the world had gone bad and crazy and my now husband is a little strange. The next day, I actually had a very spooky experience of figuring out something very specific about a person that I’d never known or never met, and I didn’t know that person existed. It’s this first experience when you realize that something is beyond what physics can explain, which raises the little hair on the back of your spine. That makes a huge difference.

Since then, I have stopped being so skeptical. I’m still very skeptical and very scientific and academic, especially compared to the rest of Mindvalley family. However, I’m very open to the idea that we don’t know everything and we can’t explain everything because I had experienced it, not to prove anything to anyone, but because it happened. It happened during my first weekend in New York, married to Vishen, during my first Silva training and wondering what was going on.

We don’t know everything and we can’t explain everything.

Were you hooked after that? Were you like, “Let me do more?”

Not specifically. I had a different career path because I studied to be a diplomat. That was my idea. I was still thinking of the UN. I studied International Politics after we had started Mindvalley because I wanted to do something else. I got dragged into Mindvalley very gradually and very slowly. It’s so strange because now, when I imagine what I could have been a diplomat or an ambassador of Estonia to London, which is probably the top position except being an ambassador to US, I’m not jealous of that lifestyle at all.

Good. No regrets?

No. If anything, I’m probably horrified by the idea that I thought that was my path.

It’s not such a bad path. To me, this is a dream path, by the way. I’ve been obsessed with self-development. I was immersed in it for at least two decades. I’ve talked about my dad, who’s now passed, a lot on this show, but he planted that seed in the ‘70s. He was probably reading Jose Silva, but he was definitely listening to Tony Robbins cassette tapes and all of those things. The seed was planted when I was young, but I dove into it on my own as a young adult.

Starting Mindvalley

To hear how you started Mindvalley, can you share a little bit more about that? What’s that like? First of all, I’m sure the beginning days were not so glamorous, but again, you’ve now spent time with and probably have friends with people that myself and probably other people reading can only dream of meeting, famous self-help people.

That’s true. I’m very privileged because I get to work with pretty much anyone in the industry of personal growth and transformation. I’ve met pretty probably almost everyone, everyone alive. My favorite question that I often get is, “How did you end up in Mindvalley?” I usually answer that I incorporated it. I had to do the legal and financial work of putting in the papers and registering the company, but it was a reluctant choice. It wasn’t my path.

For a background, to be clear, it is Vishen’s passion. He is my ex-husband and we’re still in a good relationship. Vishen is the face of Mindvalley. He’s the famous guy. I have been always in the background initially by choice. After a while, it’s a little harder to become the center of everybody’s attention. I did Mindvalley in Russian for many years. I’ve had my share of that.

It started as a side project because Vishen was very passionate about personal growth. His interest in personal growth started when he was a teenager. His dad was interested in Silva and we still have that book that fell off the shelf and hit Vishen on the head. It drew his attention to meditation. I got dragged into it and sucked it into little by little because as a foreign wife, first in New York and then we moved to Malaysia, I was still searching for myself because when you’re young, you’re very maybe arrogant and you think like if you’ve done a career here, you’ll do it anywhere. I had done my career in Estonia before I got married, but I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were happening. I started dabbling in a way with Mindvalley, doing it in Russian. It sucked me in, eventually.

On the other hand, having been in this industry for many years, because I had attended almost everything, even when I was actively trying to avoid working for Mindvalley, and having worked with a lot of authors, read their books, seen them on stage, talked to them personally, I’m probably one of the biggest skeptics in personal growth as well. I like to take stabs at our industry. Since you know my book, you’ve read it so you actually know that once in a while, I turn into this, “I helped create this industry. I’m allowed to say that.”

One last question about it before we go into your black belt at badassery. Out of all of those authors, gurus, I use that word lightly, teachers that you’ve met, who would you say is, in your opinion, like the real deal, the most authentic?

Most of the people are real in different ways because there are teachers that I truly enjoy and love and I enjoy them because they blow my mind. If you want specific names, I love Sheila Kelley. She’s amazing. I love Shefali Tsabari because I think her brain works like mine in a way. My very dear friend is Marisa Peer, and she talks so simply about very deep things. If we talk about man, then I love Jim Kwik because he’s so simple, despite being so famous. He’s kind and he pays attention when he doesn’t have to. I’ve seen him with people personally. Harv Eker, he’s not our teacher currently, but we’ve worked with him.

People often scoff, but actually he is so wise, it’s insane. You replace money with love, health, or whatever you like and his book still makes sense. I love him. His book is probably one of the books that I have gifted the most to my friends. These are off the top of my head. Of course, Vishen is a great teacher and he is the way he is. That’s him. Now I said that some people, they’re still real. I believe that every teacher who’s on stage. Most of them believe in what they’re doing.

Most teachers on stage believe in what they’re doing.

There are very rare examples where you feel that you’re being played and manipulated and the tricks are being used on you. Most of the teachers, even if you don’t agree with them, that’s not the right teachers for you at this moment, they still believe in what they’re doing. Literally for me, that’s the filter. I don’t have to agree with every teacher because we meet teachers and we find books when we need them. Different stage in life requires different approaches. There’s no one-size-fits-all all. As I’m talking about that, I’m so aware of how many wonderful people I have not mentioned. What I’m trying to say is that people who play the game don’t last long because the masses are not idiots.

Personal Growth Is Not A Diploma

That’s so true because if you look at the best sellers, they’ve been around for decades. You can’t fake it for decades. Let’s face it. Everyone out there knows that the guest that I curate for this show is a very specific reason. That means that you are a black belt in badassery. My definition of being a black belt in badassery is that you have gone through lots of hurdles and challenges in life and you’ve developed a type of inner strength or power. You’ve tapped into that in a way that you now share with others.

As a speaker, as an author, you are now sharing that with us. I truly want to acknowledge you for that and commend you for that because I know it takes a lot of guts. I know getting out on a stage is scary. It’s some people’s worst fear. Can you share a bit about what you would consider the biggest challenges for you that you’ve had to overcome in this journey? Whether it be when you were younger or a young adult, what were some of the major challenges that you’ve had to overcome?

I’m sorry, and I hope you don’t mind that I will somewhat evade the answer and you’ll find out now why. As a speaker and as a teacher, I actually don’t find it very hard to talk about my past, what I have accomplished, whether it’s good or bad, and what I have done in my life. I think in the entertainment industry, there’s this idea that you can have to different personas. Although people do say, “In real life, I’m pretty much the same as on stage,” but it is still a little bit different persona because I am a little bit more introverted and private than what I have to be on stage.

On stage, you have to show a little bit more of yourself than maybe what you would be willing to do. When I put on that hat of, “Now I’m the cofounder of Mindvalley, I’m the bestselling author of the book, and I’m sharing something,” it’s very easy because it’s a journey that has maybe come to some logical point. I’ve made my conclusions and my lessons, and I understand the meaning of what happened.

This is not a hard thing to share. What I want to share, which is probably, and where I’m evading the question is that hurdles and difficulties in life are not something that you get rid of once and for all. Personal growth is not a diploma in university. Now you’ve finished it and now you’re a professional badass, because I think my hardest moments are actually still happening all the time.

The weird thing is that no matter how well trained you are, life always throws something at you and you always have to find new strengths over and over again. I guess that is the weird thing. No matter how much you grow, it’s like taking a shower. One time, I took a wonderfully long shower after I came home from sports, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to do another one now. The same with personal growth and transformation. You keep going forever.

Yes, completely, which is why I have another book idea that’s coming after this one, because at black belt level, like you said, the hits are going to keep coming. They don’t stop. In fact, they probably get more difficult as we get older because the risks become bigger, and the loss becomes greater. I feel that’s the way life goes. Our strength needs to become greater as well. Beautifully said. You’re saying, but not saying that your difficult challenges are still in the process, still going through.

Aging And Societal Expectations

If you want me to name the names, then of course, for me, the interesting topic is aging. At some point, you realize that youth is not eternal. For me, that point was 45. I think I have the World Health Organization to blame because they announced that 44 is the edge of the youth. I was like, “What” you want to tell me it’s young anymore?”

Forty-four is when youth ends?

That is according to WHO. Maybe they will reevaluate that again, but it’s not bad actually because if you think years ago, 44 was definitely middle age. Now it’s not. Another thing is the concept of death. Many people in my life are becoming older. It becomes a reality. When you are young, it’s still an abstract concept. Of course, divorce has forced me into taking responsibility for some aspects of my life, which I never cared to learn. That’s interesting. There are topics that are new Mount Everest for me to scale. It’s interesting. I’m coming from a little bit from the side. I’ve been thinking about this idea. Some people believe that human nature is lazy and stupid, and I don’t agree with that.

I often say that I’m lazy, but the laziness comes from exhaustion. We are going on a holiday soon and I know how I go on holidays. My dream is can you please take me to a paradise place, nice hotel where I don’t have to do anything? The first two days I’ll be in bed. I won’t change out of my pajamas. However, I know myself that by the end of the week, I’ll be itching to start doing something. I believe that as exhausted as we sometimes get with life, the reality is that the moment you have enough rest, you suddenly remember your true human nature and true human nature is to keep moving.

As exhausted as we sometimes get with life, the reality is that the moment you have enough rest, you suddenly remember your true human nature and true human nature is to just keep moving.

Keep one foot in front of the other. I love that. I have so many things that I wanted to share, too. Aging. For me, I started to notice things too around 45 because it was in the middle of the pandemic for me. I was like, “Why is my skin different all of a sudden?” My skin on my thighs, for some reason, completely changed. At first, I thought it was a temporary thing. I could slough it off and it would regrow new, shiny skin. I was like, “Something’s going on.”  At 47, I feel there are lots of changes happening in our body, but also in our mind.

I’ve noticed a lot of women in this age range, much bigger than 45 to 47, but on the front end and the back end, that is going through not these body changes, but more so life changes and they are experiencing things like divorce and career changes, like completely going on a different career path. I’m observing this in friends and people I know and people I follow on social media with curiosity. Also, I’m so impressed by women. I think we’re so cool. Obviously, all people do this, too. I feel like it’s this age where women are starting to have their second act in life. Would you say that you’re experiencing that as well?

I don’t want to compare myself to other women because I haven’t explored this topic enough to be able to make any generalizations. What I feel is that we have to talk about the looks, honestly. Sometimes the fact that we dive into a different career path or into learning to become independent after a divorce or something like that, very often it’s evading the very obvious elephant in the room that our contemporary society is very unkind and unforgiving to aging women.

I know it very well because when I was in my twenties, I was ten kilos lighter. By the way, I’m in very good shape right now. Kickboxing is a good workout, by the way. I was younger. I was slimmer. I was much more audacious about how I looked and everything. Sometimes it is a curse. We don’t even realize when we feel how society’s attitude to us changes because we have become wiser, smarter, better and more valuable, it doesn’t change because of that. It changes because, for a lot of society, the value of a woman is in how skinny and beautiful she is. We have to stop being afraid to talk about that. That’s absolutely not fair.

Scales Of Flawesomeness

That is a perfect segue into your book.

It’s about self-love.

I have some notes. Self-love comes a little later in the book. We’ll save that for a second. Starting out with this perfectionism, this being a good girl your whole life, can you share a little bit more about that and how there’s so many of us can relate to this?

Just before we had this interview, I was working on my scale of flawsomeness and perfectionist is this one type there when I was writing a book, because the book is based, of course, in my own experience. It’s not about my life, but it’s based in my own experience. For me, that journey went through being a perfectionist. As a perfectionist, I struggled with accepting my own imperfections. I was aware that they were there, but my strategy was very simple. If you find a dragon in the basement, you slay it.

It took life and wisdom. Hopefully, it’s wisdom. Maybe I’m mistaken. To realize that your dragons are not to be slayed, but rather to be harnessed, bridled or ridden. It’s very often it’s in our imperfection where our true value lies, not in our perfection. I still haven’t seen this movie, but I’ve heard about the Stepford Wives concept where everybody’s this plastic doll.

Maybe we can compare it to Barbie world. The perfection is not even in the nature of nature. Nature is based in imperfection. Evolution is based in imperfection, mutation and deviation from the norm. For me, that was the battle. As I started widening my research, I came to the conclusion that there are other types in this scale of flawsomeness. The two types that I feel are also very prevalent, especially among people who follow personal growth and transformation, are underdogs and stoics. They’re slightly different variations of perfectionists.

Perfectionists are people who have a high bar for the world for themselves, but they have hard times with failure. Any kind of failure, whether it’s your imperfections where you try to stifle it or it’s failure. That’s why I call us reluctantly competitive. We understand that we have to compete because that’s the rules of the game, but it’s actually so painful because what if you are not first? The idea of perfectionism about being in a competition is winning, and winning is number one. Everything else is losing.

That’s a horrible way to move through the world. You’re setting yourself up for failure most of the time. Underdog, to me, I’m about to go deep. I love the underdog story. I loved growing up and watching Rocky Balboa win after being the underdog. I’ve always felt like my dad was like an underdog as he grew up in the Bronx, the child of immigrants, that whole story. I think a lot of Americans probably, back then, can relate to that underdog story. I sometimes wonder, and this is a recent revelation for me, do I relate to it too much? Do I relate to being an underdog too much where I’m now the underdog? I’m attracting that somehow in my life. Can you tell us more about the underdog?

You are very right. Rocky Balboa is probably the most classic underdog, but I have to say that I’m using my words right now. I use 3 of the 6 types, but I’m using them a little bit more abstract because stoic, for example, could be a person who’s following the philosophical doctrine of Stoicism, but I’m not using them. I’m using them as mark words for my own system.

In my system, I’m looking at a few scales. First of all, your relationship with the world and your relationship with yourself. The second set of scales is looking into the future versus looking into the past. What are your expectations or how do you perceive the world versus how do you perceive failures, whether it’s personal or in your relationship to the world?

The difference with underdog, and a lot of underdogs relate to perfectionist because that’s the word, that is very popular and very famous and underdogs are still more the domain of pop culture, the movies, because underdogs give such a wonderful character arc. It’s so pleasant to see somebody actually defying all odds.

The idea about underdogs is that they are very resilient and they deal with both personal imperfections and failures very well. They actually deal with failure very well, and they are rather ambitious. They do set themselves high goals, but they’re even not aware that their relationship with themself is a little bit unhealthy. Underdogs very often might think that they’re being realistic and they’re being honest with themselves. What happens is that they’re very critical with themselves.

I said that they can tolerate their personal infections, but what I wanted to say is actually that they’re aware of their personal imperfections, but like perfectionists, they’re trying to eradicate them. They’re not at peace with them. The thing with underdogs is that they definitely make wonderful hero characters because they definitely are ambitious and competitive. They’re not afraid of competition and ambition.

Imagine reaching your most spectacular dreams and not being at peace with yourself. That’s this poison that is going to ruin everything. I did mention Marisa Peer, one of our authors, and I’m paraphrasing her, and she works with celebrities because she’s a celebrity therapist. She says that there is this interesting thing that very often, while people are still striving for achievements, that goal is pulling them. It gives them the meaning, and they can go through a lot. That’s going through a lot.

That’s a very classical thing that underdogs and stoics do. Once you are on the top of Mount Olympus, you suddenly realize that you are your own company. All this achievement does not make you feel better about who you are. It does not make you feel more lovable. Very often, the problem with underdogs is that even when they achieve their wildest dreams, they still don’t love themselves.

Self-Love Vs. Self-Care

That brings me right to the next point, which is that self-love. Self-love versus self-care. You talk about that in your book. I think that’s a great distinction. Do you want to share about the distinction? I like to learn how my guests actually do things. How do you put that into practice in your life, actually loving yourself?

I like to give this analogy but I wonder if it’s an analogy at all. Let me try to explain it. Self-care in essence is ritualistic. We have traditions and we have things, rituals that let us know that we take care of ourself like a long shower after sports, which I mentioned, or meditation. Very often, it’s a form of self-care. Any kind of sports or wellbeing ritual, they’re all about self-care. You take care of your temple, the body, the temple of your soul. This is something that we understand because it’s tangible and it translates into effort, money, time or anything you like.

If you want to take care of your physique, you go to the gym and you take care of your nutrition. Self-love is not tangible. Self-love is a relationship with yourself. Relationship isn’t tangible. Now here’s the analogy. I did have an analogy. When you are in a relationship with someone, going on a date, it’s a ritual. Going on a date is a good ritual, which probably promotes this relationship and makes it stronger. It is not a definition of a relationship. If your relationship is not healthy or toxic, the date is not going to help it. Sex is not going to help it. Being honest with each other is not probably going to help it.

If your relationship is healthy and the relationship is there, if you love someone unconditionally, and let’s say they also love you, then very often, you can emit the dates or even be apart and not have sex for a long time. The relationship is still going on because the relationship in essence is not ritualistic. It can’t be translated into time, money, and effort. That’s a huge difference, which I think is important and which I think is a pitfall for a lot of us because we can’t understand the non-tangible side of self-love. We tend to do a little shortcuts and do the things that are easy to understand.

Because we can’t understand the non-tangible side of self-love, we tend to take little shortcuts and do things that are easy to understand.

Another analogy would be spirituality. I’m sorry if somebody is very religious, you might find it offensive. In essence, religion is this package of rituals that help people feel that they truly connect to God. Connection to God is not in how you pray, whether you cross yourself or pray facing down like Muslims. The connection to God is intangible. Very often, it’s hard to explain to people. When we are very afraid of not doing a rite, we rely on rituals.

The same is true for meditation. You can actually meditate by defocusing your eyes and going inside and still walking or doing something. It’s so hard to understand that, am I really meditating? Rely on things like countdown techniques, and putting the three fingers together. Trust me, I’m a meditation teacher. That’s an important part. Why I’m saying that is because in our world, we are so fascinated by the easy, tangible, superficial checklist to do not to do that we sometimes forget the essence, but the essence is what makes the difference.

The relationship, the essence. I hear you. I love this. For people who struggle with self-love, I would say it’s not an on-off switch, obviously. It’s a journey. It’s like any relationship with anyone. You have to work at it. What would be the ways or techniques? I know again, it’s putting it in a package, but how can we develop a better relationship with ourselves?

It’s a long story, unfortunately, and it’s bad news in our bite-sized world. It’s very bad news, especially for my marketers. They hate me for saying that but the thing is that any psychologist or psychotherapist will tell you that if a certain problem has taken a certain time to take root and to happen in your life, it’ll take at least half that time to undo it. Whatever your age is, in our case, it’s 46, 47, it took us this time to create that relationship with self that we have at this moment. If you want to change it, you would probably have to take a little bit of patience. Probably not 23 years, but a little bit of patience. It’s not too bad.

I would be 75 years old and be like, “I finally love myself.”

Trust me, you probably loved yourself pretty long until you hit teenage years. It’s a little better than that. To answer the question a little bit more practically, I would like to say that most of us are not even aware that we are in a bad relationship or in a toxic relationship with ourselves. I don’t like throwing the world toxic lightly, but imagine it as any relationship that we take for granted.

For a lot of people, it’s husband or wife. We take them for granted. We don’t even analyze whether is it a healthy relationship or not. For some people, it’s children, parents or friends. Very often, when we take a relationship for granted. It’s a natural course of change. It is deterioration because we ignore it. It’s like if you take your health for granted, it’s quite likely going to deteriorate.

The first step is actually to try to assess. In what kind of relationship are you with yourself? Here are a few pitfalls. First of all, we are not very used to hearing ourselves or being with ourselves in our industry. We hear a lot, “Don’t be in your head, be in your body.” Head is a bad neighborhood, but it’s in the head where the cognitive processes happen and you need some cognitive processes to start noticing what’s going on.

We are not used to even asking ourselves questions. Another thing is that we are not used to prioritizing our relationship with ourselves. My child is actually very easy. As a mother of a teenager and a business owner, I can relate. We very often say, “I don’t have time for that fluffy stuff.” For example, my business is going through a crisis, or my teenager is not listening to me. “I have more important problems in my life, so I don’t have time for my well-being.”

The very important correlation that we don’t see here is that your relationship with the world is a reflection of your relationship with yourself. Very few people remember when you started your business and you were actually a starry-eyed, startup entrepreneur, nothing was a problem for you. Everything was an interesting challenge to crack. Later, when you get jaded and tired and exhausted and burned out, you start seeing that your business is a problem and you don’t have time for your well-being without realizing that no, in reality, you have a problem. That reflects into your business.

I know it not from hearsay. If you remember, I said I was doing Mindvalley in Russia. Of course, this business is closed because of the war, but I have done it since 2009. In 2014, Russia attacked Ukraine for the first time. We don’t remember that anymore, but it took a piece of it, Crimea. That was when I had full-on business in Russia. Seventy percent of my market was in Russia, 30% was in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, so 80% of my business was at war. There was a massive economic crisis happening. There was inflation so bad, the numbers were crazy.

I thought my business was going to go bankrupt, and it coincided at the same time, I had a bad relationship with my business partner. I was unhappy. I was waking up every morning thinking as an entrepreneur, I have to shove it, you know where and be stoic. Actually, I show up and do it for the sake of somebody. It was such a beautiful story. I tolerated my business partner because I thought that was my responsibility.

Now it’s a little confusing, maybe storyline, but at some point, I realized that I can’t go on like this. I broke up with my business partner, and the next morning, I felt like I had wings behind my back. I actually felt that all these stories were fear speaking. Nothing was so good for the business. The extra interesting thing is that this was happening when 70% of my business market was at war, or 80%, in fact.

There was a massive economic crisis. I broke up with my business partner and suddenly overnight, I felt happy. My business not only survived. In two years, they did better and more than before that. Right now, when Russia is at full-on war with Ukraine, and we can’t sell to Russia, it was 80% of my market at some point, we lost it but the business is doing better than when I was suffering. We are selling in the Russian language abroad, not to Russia. It is there. It’s doing better than before, all of those hurdles, because I’m at peace with myself.

That’s the bottom line. That’s the through line here. When we become at peace with ourselves, everything else in our lives seems to flow a little bit better. Would you agree with that? In your case, flourish.

Not only that, but my interest in self-love started from my teaching happiness. I understood one very simple thing. You cannot be happy if you are not at peace with yourself.

I’d like to share that, again, we’re all on this journey of self-growth, development, help, whatever you want to call it. Self-love at the end of the day. I know that my meditation practice helps me because every morning, I’m connecting with the highest version of myself. Every day, no matter what. That space then overflows out into the day. That’s where I get to connect and have that relationship, that observance awareness, if you will. I feel like I’m a little bit of Jose Silva where I’m inviting people into my groups or on this show to talk about badassery. At the end of the day, I’m always selling meditation. I don’t mean selling it.

The Dove Experiment

One of my imperfections is that I go and rant. I was supposed to take you guys to a different place, actually. I got so excited about this topic. When I said that we are not always aware of what our relationship with ourselves is, maybe you remember in the book, I have this one exercise. I call it the Dove experiment. I think it’s one of the most eye-opening exercises. I sometimes do it at my trainings. I love doing them at my trainings. If you want, we can give this exercise. Normally you would have to do it two days in a row, but we can give it in one batch to the people to try and to see.

It’s simple. What I’m asking to do tomorrow, better tomorrow from the start of the day, grab a notepad and write down all your self-talk throughout the day. For a woman, it’s very easy. Open your eyes. The first things that you think. Sometimes it’s like, “Why am I so sleepy? Why didn’t I go to bed earlier?” Whatever. Write it down the way you talk to yourself in your head.

Go to the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror. What do you say? Very often we are like, “What? Where all this gray hair is coming from?” Basically, write it down the way it is. When I do it at my sessions, I don’t tell what’s going to happen next. I would normally say, “Write it as you say to yourself in your head, without censoring, without filtering, because nobody’s going to read it.” That’s exactly the monologue that’s happening in your head.

Here you have a spoiler. You try not to censor what you’re going to be writing down tomorrow. When you’re done in the evening, there are two ways to do that. You can do it by yourself. You can read everything that you’ve been saying to yourself, and you can imagine that you are talking to someone that you truly love. Maybe your child or partner. Imagine that you’re reading it to them.

Another option, if you have the guts, find the person that you truly love and ask them to read it out to you. Actually, it’s when you are faced with your own severity and cruelty, the way you talk to yourself, that’s when it hits you truly. One thing is to say to yourself, because there are a lot of stoic people, for example, who believe that self-criticism is a prerequisite for growth and transformation. Some people think that they have to be self-critical because otherwise, they won’t grow.

Without going too deep into that topic, it’s a very dangerous and not helpful belief. Now, because of that, we very often don’t want to tone down the way we talk to ourselves. Imagine if you were talking like that to someone that you love unconditionally. By the way, if you ask your loved one to read it out to you, you can ask them how did they feel doing that.

Rapid Fire Questions

Probably awful. I love that part of your book. It’s actually on my notes. I’m so glad you brought it up. With that, we all have our marching orders from Kristina. Tomorrow, start observing all your thoughts. Write them down. Either you read them back to yourself or have your loved one read them back to you and see how that feels. That starts that process, the journey of self-love, being at peace with yourself. Thank you so incredibly much for this beautiful conversation, Kristina. I have four rapid-fire questions that I love to ask all my guests. Are you ready?


One, what was your favorite food as a kid?

Sausages. I was born in Soviet Union. I have not tried Coke until I was a teenager. I don’t like Coke.

I want to have you back on because I want to hear more about your upbringing, but okay, sausages. Got it. If you could have a drink with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what are you drinking?

I would drink wine, for sure. I like to drink champagne. If you’re trying to bond and understand people, I, I need to be in my element. I am not a very starstruck type of person. I wonder who would it be. I guess I would like to meet someone very ancient, like maybe Greek philosophers, to understand if they were the same kind of people. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to talk. I know they wouldn’t look down on me for drinking wine. I have to tell you, it would be out of curiosity, how it was, how people have changed. When it comes to learning, I think we get to learn from everyone. There’s so much information. Sometimes the best teachers are actually your children or some stranger on the street.

This is going to be a tough one for you, I bet. What’s your favorite personal growth book?

I actually prefer fiction.

That’s not the question, Kristina.

I know it’ll be very unexpected. Harv Eker’s book.

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, everyone.

Yes. It’s so simple.

I think it’s great. Last but not least, what’s your favorite hype song? The song you put on to get you going amped up.

I usually listen to radio in my car and I like random radio music that I recognize for about one month. The next month, it’s a completely new set of songs. When I like to be in flow, I listen to this Turkish artist. He plays electronica. I think I’ve brainwashed myself. My brain starts working when I listen to him.

Tap into a state of flow. Let’s get that music because I could use some flow in my work. Okay, thank you so much, Kristina. Please tell everyone where they can connect with you, learn more about you and get your book.

As a Founder of Mindvalley, I would say you can find me in Mindvalley. I’m one of the authors and one of the Founders. My book is on my site as well,, but it’s also on Amazon and the bookshops and everywhere like any book.

What’s your Instagram handle?


Kristina, thank you so much for this beautiful conversation. I hope everyone out there is going to take on that challenge that we have tomorrow and let us know how it worked for you. Jump on Instagram and send us messages. I always make sure I get back to everyone so please, let us know how it goes and keep being badasses out there. Thank you, everyone.

Thank you so much.

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About Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani

The Art of Badassery with Jenn Cassetta | Kristina Mänd Lakhiani | Becoming FlawesomeKristina Mänd-Lakhiani is a co-founder of Mindvalley, the world’s most powerful life transformation platform with an ever-growing 20 million-strong following. She‘s a best-selling author, international speaker, entrepreneur, artist, and philanthropist based in Estonia.

Kristina helps her students to virtually hack happiness by taking them through her unique framework – “Hacking happiness” – a unique framework of balancing your life, taking in every moment, and paying close attention to the small daily choices. She hosts her own podcast, Honest Conversations, and has interviewed over 200 specialists in the field of psychology and self-development.

As an author of transformational programs – 7 Days To Happiness, Live By Your Own Rules, 10 Questions for Self-Love, and From Awesome to Flawesome, Kristina has touched the lives of over 20,000 students, with wisdom, life hacks, and healthy habit-building formulas curated and inspired by her 20 years in the personal growth industry.

The Art of Badassery with Jenn Cassetta | Kristina Mänd Lakhiani | Becoming Flawesome