Francisca Vargas, psychologist and mentor: “There is a language of war in personal development, which is harmful”

At the beginning of 2020, the psychologist Francisca Vargas (@franciscavargas_com) received a call from the Planeta publishing house: they invited her to write a book about her personal process, her trips to the East, her liberation, and how she had been encountering her fears , guilt, with love and death. Also, how she had traced her path since she had stopped working as a psychologist with a specialization in Lacanian psychoanalysis, until she founded the Ayurverde School, where she gave courses on personal growth, leadership and spirituality.

Francisca had told part of that process on her instagram account, but writing a book was something else. And, by the way, a long-time wish. So she accepted. She made it easy for her, and she arrived at a deep and fluent text, which went to press in early 2021 under the name inhabit me woman, an intimate story that spoke of fear, of how he had taken the courage to be who he was, to speak out. She was happy and very confident to post it.

But when her editor called her to tell her that the book was ready, printed and on its way to bookstores, the psychologist panicked. “That was supposed to be a moment of celebration, but for me it was very scary, almost terrifying. I was shivering, I just wanted to lie down, cry, I had many nightmares of persecution. I wondered why I had done this, what was I getting myself into, or why was he forcing me to go through these things, ”she says. And, then, instead of questioning her own feelings –or imposing herself on having to be calm or happy–, what Francisca Vargas did was precisely apply what she herself teaches: perform an act of integration. That is to say, accepting herself as vulnerable even while she maintained, at the same time, the certainty that publishing that book was something that she did want.

“I think that’s what it’s all about. It is not that the part of you that has that certainty has to ‘beat’ the one that does not have that certainty”, he says, very much in tune with what he raised in one of the last posts, in which he spoke about the language of war in certain personal development messages, such as fighting anxiety, beating the self-boycott, or overcoming your limiting beliefs. “A series of set phrases, repeated over and over again, that seek to ’empower’ you, so that you can ‘win’ a part of you: that fragile part, that part that is scared, that part that criticizes you. . to your shadows As if there were a part of us that is our enemy and another part that should be dominated, punished, silenced. Why should we assume that there is something bad inside of us, that we must bend? ”, she wrote.

The psychologist knows the world of personal growth well. Graduated from the Catholic University and with studies in Lacanian psychoanalysis at the Clinical Institute of Buenos Aires, Vargas gradually moved from the more traditional work to the world of spirituality and inner development. A field she entered in 2016 when she timidly and anonymously began posting Ayurvedic food recipes on a blog she called Ayurverde. Over time, the blog ceased to be anonymous, the topics began to expand much more and she began to give courses for women who were looking to reconnect with the medicine and wild woman within them. In 2017 she founded the Escuela Ayurverde and left her job as a clinical psychologist in health centers. That same year, after painful personal experiences and a major rethinking of life, she went to live in Indonesia for two years.

Based today in Chile, the psychologist has worked with more than 6,000 women, who have participated in her personal development courses, which Francisca has created by assembling her own interests, ranging from Eastern and Western spirituality, psychoanalysis, philosophy, feminism and leadership. This year she launched her first Diploma in Intuitive Leadership and these days she is working on a retreat that she will offer to women in the south of Chile, in the summer, at the same time that she offers mentoring and is venturing into consulting for organizations.

“I think it’s critical to surround yourself with life experiences that encourage and confirm that it’s safe to be powerful and it’s also safe to be vulnerable. All at the same time, and give yourself space to observe the internal characters that we need to integrate. That is tremendously healing, and it is a reprogramming of our brain, of how we see the world. We need to make that change, towards a world that moves towards the collaborative ethic and leaves the patriarchal ethic. This is how I conceive leadership. I speak of intuitive leadership because it is the one that has to do with allowing me to be authentic, and not with leading from the ideals, the impositions or the demands of the models of progress or development that are in fashion”, he says.

How did you begin to notice that warlike language in some personal development messages?

First, it had to do with making me aware that there are two great ways of relating: on the one hand, from patriarchal ethics there is everything that has to do with domination, war, competition, with imposing. On the other hand, there is the collaborative ethic, which implies that I see the other as part of a community to which I also belong, where we both add up. But later I began to observe that this pattern is also replicated in the language we use. Perhaps it has to do with my training in psychoanalysis, but for me it becomes clear that what we repeat speaks of our subconscious and we have to stop there. At one point, it began to become very evident when talking to my students. I saw that there is a brutal self-demand to try to be the so-called “best version”. And that is an imperative of productivity, of efficiency, which is fierce: beat my shadow, meet all my goals, not decay, not self-boycott, overcome my fears. I realized that this was tremendously patriarchal language.

In what sense?

In the sense that we speak from the need for one part of us to dominate the other. There is a part of us that resists complying with all those imperatives: to follow all the guidelines of the diet, conscious eating, drinking water, playing sports, developing my business, being creative all the time, good mother, daughter, friend, wife. And everything that resists that is seen as an enemy that I have to dominate, bend and defeat. But the internal parts that are resisting meeting these imperatives of productivity and success – of becoming an ideal – are also showing us something, like the great need we have to enjoy, to rest, not to alienate ourselves in this search for pursue ideals. So, from there, I began to wonder what it would be like to approach ourselves from a more collaborative language. What if I stop seeing this part of me that resists those imperatives as my enemy, and understand that it is helping me and protecting me? This language of competition fragments us all the time and that puts us in a constant fight against ourselves, since we ourselves are our main and only great resource.

Francisca Vargas, psychologist and mentor: “There is a language of war in personal development, which is harmful” – La Tercera