Explore the Blog

Podcast Home





Put a short description here that explains the purpose of your blog and welcomes your readers.
hi, I'm Rebecca

Do you find yourself in a constant state of proving? Proving that you are a good enough leader, parent, partner, fill in the blank? 

Do you know what drives your need to prove to others and yourself? 

When does the need to prove you are good enough and worthy enough show up the most? At work, in your relationships with others, or maybe in your relationship with yourself?

When you fall into a constant state of proving your worthiness and value, your unaddressed relational wounds fuel an excessive need for validation and recognition from those around you that exhausts and leaves you in an excessive loop of hustling, anxiety, and doubt. 

But when you commit to doing the work to understand your underlying motivations to constantly prove yourself, you can release these burdens and develop a more secure, confident approach to leadership, relationships, and conflict resolution in all areas of your life.

Arielle ​Estoria (she/her) is a poet, author, actor, and model. Her motto, “Words not for the ears but for the soul” stems from her dedication to remind anyone who encounters her work that words are meant to be felt and experienced not just heard, with a specific heart in empowering, encouraging and making space for audiences of women to feel free and at home in their own bodies.

Arielle has shared her work through custom spoken word pieces, workshops and themed keynote talks with companies such as Google, Sofar Sounds, Lululemon, Dressember, Tedx, the SKIMS campaign by Kim Kardashian and more. She has consecutively emceed annual conferences and has led various writing, embodiment and self-acceptance workshops in various settings ranging from students to professional development spaces.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Arielle has worked to cut ties with people pleasing and learned not to constantly explain herself
  • How Arielle defines “secure proving” versus “insecure proving” in her life
  • How we can try so hard to prove ourselves that we forget the self we’re trying to prove
  • Balancing performance and authenticity online, and how social media makes it hard to show up as your full self
  • How Arielle defines success for herself, outside of the linear path through life that she was taught

Learn more about Arielle Estoria:

Learn more about Rebecca:



Rebecca Ching: All right, y’all! I am just a few episodes from episode 100! For those of you that have been with me from the beginning, thank you! And those that are new, I am so grateful you’re along for The Unburdened Leader ride. I would be so honored, it would be such a gift to me as we celebrate this milestone, if you have not already, please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen to the show, and please make sure you’re subscribed and share it with some folks you think may benefit from it. So thank you so much for listening to this show!

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Arielle Estoria: What are we overcompensating for? What are we going to these great heights to not be this person? Just say you’re not that person anymore. But there’s still so much fear around that. That was another level of my unfolding, honestly. The process still keeps going, like I said in the book. It’s cyclical. It happens, is repeated and all over the place, and so, I’m back in that space of, “Oh, this is my next round of awakening, of what are you proving and who even is this self that you’re so desperately trying not to just prove but hold onto?”

Rebecca Ching: Do you find yourself in a constant state of proving, trying to prove you’re good enough as a leader, a parent, a partner, or you fill in the blank? Do you know what drives your constant need to prove to others and yourself? Now, maybe you have a desire to prove someone wrong or to prove you’re not the same person you used to be, and when does the need to prove that you’re good enough and worthy show up the most? Is it at your work or in your relationships with others or maybe just in your relationship with yourself.

Now, when we do the work to earn trust, we look to deepen connections and relationships. Trust does indeed have to be earned and maintained.


But I want to note: building trust is different than constantly having to prove, especially if you have a history of relational wounding or trauma. And note: we all have experienced some kind of betrayal, rejection, neglect, at minimum, and you may find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth, which is rooted from past experiences where your value or your capabilities were questioned or undermined by significant people in your life.

So, when you fall into a constant state of proving your worthiness and value, these unaddressed relational wounds fuel an excessive need for validation and recognition from those around you that exhausts and leaves you in an excessive loop of hustling, anxiety, and doubt.

I’m Rebecca Ching, and you’re listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with humans who navigate life’s challenges and lead in their own ways. Now, our goal is to learn how they address the burdens they carry, how they learn from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.

Now, I suspect you know well the pressure to prove yourself. You know what that feels like, and I’m hard pressed to find someone who walks through life feeling like they don’t have anything to prove. I mean, the folks who say they have nothing to prove often seem like they really have the most to prove, right? But when you get curious about your relentless urge to prove yourself, you’ll likely find a multitude of trailheads that offer important data about what’s at the root of your need to prove.

Now, I know, for me, the constant need to prove myself usually stirs when someone or something matters a lot to me and vulnerability shows up, activating the parts of me that want to mitigate the discomfort by working harder (and often harder than is needed), overthinking, and questioning myself.


When I follow my own trailheads in these instances, these familiar feelings go way back from the task at hand in front of me and find their roots in my relational wounds and traumas from childhood, school, and previous work experiences.

I’m gonna share some different archetypes or experiences that can birth the need to prove ourselves, and you may relate to some of the types of these relational woundings and traumas I’m about to share as they fuel this constant need to prove yourself, especially in leadership roles where these following experiences can activate the echoes of burdens you still hold from, one, childhood neglect or abuse. So, when you experience neglect or abuse in childhood, it can bring up deep seated feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy in adulthood, and as a leader with this kind of background, you might feel a heightened need to prove your worth and competence, particularly in a challenging or confrontational situation. It could also carry these kinds of burdens from toxic past relationships. Now, whether they’re personal or professional, your experience in toxic relationships can instill in you a fear of rejection or criticism, and this fear can drive you to overcompensate by continually proving your worth to avoid perceived or real conflict. This is exhausting.

Another one is workplace bullying or undermining. When you consistently experience being undermined at your work environments, you can develop an acute sensitivity to vulnerability that may lead you to constantly seeking validation and affirmation through your achievements and decisions. And a big one, too, is cultural or societal discrimination.


When you face discrimination or marginalization due to race, gender, sexual orientation, or other aspects of nondominant culture identities, this can result in you developing a chronic sense of having to prove yourself. And if you’re a leader from a marginalized group, you may feel additional pressures to demonstrate your capabilities and legitimacy.

The last one I want to highlight is critical or unsupportive parenting. When you grow up with overly critical or unsupportive parents, this can instill in you a perpetual need for approval from others, which can be quite tricky as a leader. The lack of unconditional acceptance in childhood might lead to this constant pursuit of external validation in your professional roles and personal relationships.

Phew, in each of these various types of experiences that leave us holding the burdens of shame, humiliation, abandonment, rejection, despair, and more, the relational wounds can trigger an intensified fear of vulnerability and conflict, which leads us to, again, relentlessly quest to prove our worth, often at the expense of our authenticity and wellbeing. But when you commit to doing the work to understand your underlying motivations to constantly prove yourself, you can release the burdens and develop a more secure, confident approach to leadership, relationships, and conflict resolution in all areas of your life.

Arielle Estoria is a traveling spoken word poet, self-published author, dance party enthusiast, emcee and event host, speaker, body positive model, actor, and professional feeler. She shamelessly claims that she is in the business of pulling on heartstrings, and her motto is “words not for the ears but for the soul,” which stems from her dedication to remind anyone who encounters her and her work that words are meant to be felt and experienced and not just heard, which just means you may or may not cry by the end of your time with her, and you have been warned. [Laughs]


Arielle has shared her work through spoken word workshops and themed keynote talks with companies such as Google, Sofar Sounds, Lululemon, Dressember, TEDx, Skims, and more. Her first EP is a collection of music and poetry called Symphony of a Lioness, and her single “Magic in Your Bones” are all available on iTunes or Apple Music. She’s also the coauthor of two collections of poetry: Vagabonds and Zealots and Write Bloody Spill Pretty, which can be found both at Amazon.com.

Now, notice when Arielle talks about her decision about when and where to stop explaining herself. Pay attention to when Arielle talks about how she discerns when to show up and contribute, and when to not push herself to perform. And listen for when Arielle talks about how to discern when to just live life for her and not for sharing with the world or on social media.

All right, y’all, now please welcome back Arielle Estoria to The Unburdened Leader podcast!

Arielle, welcome back!

Arielle Estoria: I’m excited to be back!

Rebecca Ching: I’m really looking forward to this conversation today, and we’re gonna be talking about proving. As I was thinking about this topic, in light of so much that you’ve written about and even just a lot of people who are experiencing it, there’s this sense of constantly having to prove, and I don’t know if people are aware of how much that’s present, and I’m curious if you can share what your relationship with proving to yourself and to others is, particularly in your very public work as a poet, an author, and an actor.


Arielle Estoria: Yeah, I think there’s such a twofold to this because I think growing up as a Black woman, as a Black woman within Evangelical spaces, there was a lot less room for you to prove. There was nothing you needed to prove in a sense of there was a permission for you to show up fully, so what are you proving.

Rebecca Ching: Ah.

Arielle Estoria: What is there to say, you know? So I think, for me, and I’ve share this before, of just growing up pretty much just like going through the motions, making sure I’m being well-liked, making sure I’m being approachable, making sure I’m doing all the presentable and approachable things, and it wasn’t until I started doing the opposite of that — and I still think I’m very much so a people pleaser. I still think I very much so operate at a sense of, “Like me! See me!” But I’m really trying to get to the point where I operate more in a more authentic space.

So I feel like once I shifted and I stopped having to always be approved or approachable or liked or do the good thing or do the pleasing thing, that’s when it was like I had to explain myself more. “Who are you to now operate outside of this conditioning that you’ve been given? Why does your art not sit in this wavelength and now it sits in a whole other thing? I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it, and I don’t understand you,” which, as an Enneagram 4, is my nightmare. My absolute nightmare. It is the worst possible feeling to be misunderstood.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.


Arielle Estoria: And so, in the having to prove myself and in the having to show up and be like, “No, but I’m doing this, but I still like this. Yeah, I’m trying to be a yoga teacher, but look! I’m still going to Israel. I’m still a Christian. I’m still a this,” and having all these outside of what feels natural and what feels comfortable to me, kind of conditionings, and so, it wasn’t really until I started doing things outside of the space of approval that I even had to come to a point where I felt the need to prove.

I don’t think there’s ever a necessity like in a sense of permissibility means that we can just be and that there is no explanation to it, which is really hard as an artist because I’m like, “I don’t want to have to explain his to you because then that makes it seem like it’s more watered down. I had to spoon feed it to you?” I think that’s why artists, we like to kind of be the people to poke holes in things. We like to be the things that kind of like — I’m not really a flip-the-whole-thing-upside-down kind of artist, but there are artists out there who are like that, and they’re so good at it because I think that’s our job. Our job is that we don’t give you answers. We don’t spoon feed you, but we do give you truth, we do give you information, and you are, at the end of the day, the artist to decide what to do with it.

So this idea of proving has been such a wave, especially a very frequent wave in the last few years of having to — “Why are you marrying that person?” and “Why are you not going to church as much?” and “Why are you doing yoga?” and I just got to the point where I was like I don’t have to explain myself to the people who get me, and I think I just need to lean into that.

Rebecca Ching: Okay, so, for you growing up (I want to just recap this), it was like you weren’t even aware of the need to prove. It was like you just — there wasn’t even the permission to try and be.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And then once you started stepping out of that and doing your own thing, then all the questioning came because you were not fitting their expectations.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: Whether it was family, probably, or people that are experiencing your art, and then turning that around.

But what strikes me interesting about proving is you and I scheduled this interview a little earlier, and you had to reschedule because you had a callback for, I think, a commercial. And so, that got me thinking more about the proving. Like there is this element. You want to land the gig. You want to get the spot, and so, yeah, what is your relationship with proving, particularly in those acting auditions?

Arielle Estoria: Well, I mean, so much of that is you’re showing up and you’re proving that you’re the person for the job.

Rebecca Ching: Right?

Arielle Estoria: Even though there are 50 other people, 100 other people who are also in this room who have also been here also proving to you that — and I think I just really learned to go into those spaces of, “All I can do is be me. All I can do is show what I bring to the table.”

I had actually one audition that really was probably the most epitome of this was I did the audition, I did my version of it, I obviously take the direction, and then I add a little something to it on the second take, and then I submitted it. And then I did my callback, and the director was in the callback, and he gave me a note, I did the note, and then he goes, “Actually, I kind of liked your initial instinct the first time around.” And that’s what I ended up doing in the actual commercial. This was for Starbucks. That’s what I actually ended up doing was how I naturally responded in that moment. He gave me a note to tweak it to see a variation. He was like, “Actually, no, I really like how you initially did it.”

And so, in all of my classes too, I’ve really learned that, yes, it’s trusting the script, yes, it’s listening to direction, and most times people are just seeing are you gonna be hell on set or are you gonna be someone who’s at least nice to work with, you know?


Not just easy but at least just pleasant to work with. And so, that but it’s also your natural intuition. We’re actors. I’m an actor because I have this natural way of like, “Oh, how else would this person say this line? In what mindset would I have to be different in order for me to approach this?”

So much of it is having to prove myself, which I hate. I think that’s why it took me so long to come back to it because I wasn’t good at doing that at first. I didn’t want to have to, and now I’m like, “No, I know who I am. I know what I bring to the table, and if the door closes, it closes. But I’m really lucky to always get very close.” And I kind of use the getting very close or availing an opportunity as a win, as a I was considered, and then it didn’t work out for look, for whatever reason, and after so much rejection you start to be okay with that and it becomes, “I can only prove myself in this moment. I do this audition and then I leave. I either made an imprint or I didn’t. It either works or it doesn’t.” And you move onto the next one. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: How do you define proving, then, given what you just shared? What is your definition of proving or how do you know you’re in a state of proving versus being?

Arielle Estoria: Mm, I think there could be so many different ways to think about this. For some reason, the first thing that popped in my head when you asked that is a lot of times we think proving, I think in the context we were just talking about, is I’m proving that there’s a puzzle piece. There’s something complete, and all you need to fulfill it is me. You need my smile. You need my spark. You need my voice. You need my charisma.


But then there’s a level where we prove in a sense of like, “Everything is perfect. Everything is perfect. How do, then, I fit in this? And how do I make myself fit in this?” So there’s a secure type of proving and a very insecure type of proving, and I think it really depends on in which setting we’re sitting into that. I think when it comes to acting, I try my absolute best to tap into my secure proving. “I’m gonna go in there. I’m gonna do this the best I know how,” and it’s not in an insecure sense. It’s like, “I trust myself. I trust my gift.”

And then there are a lot of other times when it comes to family, when it comes to work being slow and me trying to figure out who I am as an artist where I’m insecurely proving myself like, “Oh, everything is working. Everything else is perfect, and I’m not.” And that really makes me come back to, I think, as a kid if there was any level of me trying to prove, it was this constant proving of I’m good enough. “I’m good. I’m good. I’m good. I’m good enough.”

And even in therapy recently, my therapist did an exercise with me, and she was like, “I’m gonna ask you who are you, and you just answer back with whatever comes to mind.” So she asked me a few times, and I was like, “Creative. I’m an artist. I’m a feeler,” and then I kept coming back to, “I’m good. I’m good. I’m good,” and then that’s what ended up breaking me down and I was sobbing in that, and I was like, “Okay, what in me living up until these 32 years of life has been surrounded around me trying to prove that I’m good, that I’m not sinful, that my body is good, that my Blackness is good, that my spirituality (even though it winds and flows and ebbs) is good, that my marriage is good, that me as an artist outside of church spaces is good.” It was just this constant overwhelming of like, “Oh, I’ve been trying to prove to everyone around me that I’m good, that I’m good enough, that I’m good in nature, that I’m worthy,” and it’s like, okay, but do I believe that about myself? 


And so, I do think there’s a secure and an insecure way of proving, and I think it’s just circumstantial in which we tap into one or tap into the other or are triggered by one or triggered by the other.

Rebecca Ching: I love that differentiation, because there’s almost proving in spaces where we want to earn the right. We’ve got to earn trust. And you’re talking about in acting they’re trying to assess are you going to be a good fit for this piece that they’re doing, but you’re not putting your worthiness, your good on the table for them to have a say. And then the insecure proving is completely eternalized, and it’s particularly tricky when it comes to family or the vulnerability like, for you, when the work is slower or other factors in our world that if we’ve eternalized our worth and we’re waiting for that feedback.

And so, that’s interesting for you because that’s tricky with work, because if it’s quiet and you’re not getting the gigs — 

Arielle Estoria: Yes! Oh, I definitely go in waves with that. I just am coming off a month of two conferences and all these things, and then it’s just like crickets and I’m like, “Oh, I have to stop going into this damnation mode of, ‘You’re nothing. You’re not doing anything.’” It’s pretty jolting. I actually just started Kerry Washington’s book Thicker Than Water.

Rebecca Ching: Oh.

Arielle Estoria: And she actually talks about that. At the beginning of ending Scandal and how she was like, “If I’m not Kerry Washington, if I’m not Olivia Pope, who am I?”


I was like, okay, so this is not just me. I’m obviously experiencing it on a less Olivia Pope level and more just on my level, but that’s still a thing we have where we do these big things, especially as artists, and we’re like, “That was the thing. That was what I was here for. So now what the heck am I here for?” It’s really jolting, and all your energy, all your thoughts and preparation go into me prepping those poems, me showing up to those events, and then they’re done and you’re just like, “I guess I’m just going back to my apartment and my plants and my sweet husband,” which are great things. But I’m also like, “Okay, just twiddling my thumbs.”

So it’s really jolting, and I think coming off of COVID, it’s even more jolting because the pandemic took so much of that away. Anytime it gets quiet I think it does become really scary, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I want to shift a little bit to another recent experience that you shared about, and you wrote an email about this that really stood out to me, and it caused me to pause. You were at a recent book launch party for another really gifted poet, Cleo Wade.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And you wrote to your community this. You wrote:

“But adulting still be adulting. Bills gotta be paid. New bills keep coming. My desire to be connected and relevant is costing money, and if I’m honest, my value in myself has been heavily wrapped in being booked and being busy, and I’m desperately trying to untangle it. What’s it like trying so hard to prove yourself that you forget the self you’re trying to prove?”

Arielle Estoria: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: A stop-in-your-tacks moment. I was like, “Yeah! Put that in neon lights!” And so, take me back to that moment you were writing that. How were you feeling in that moment?


Arielle Estoria: Yeah. So I literally wrote that. I was at Cleo Wade’s book event which is here in Pasadena. So I was like, “Oh, I can’t not go to that! It’s literally down the street from my house!” So I went to that. They did a happy hour at the front of it, and people were walking around taking pictures, and having just come off of my own book launch, I’m always hyper aware of how it goes. I still feel like the publishing world is something I’m still learning, I’m still understanding, and I know, especially post-pandemic, it’s something that’s really only lucrative for people whose followings are in the millions, not even the hundreds, and I’m like my hundreds are really like the thirties, but it’s fine. And so, I’ve been really hyperactively aware of what happens in those settings.

So I’m watching all of the things. I’m by myself. I’ve been going to a lot of things by myself, and it’s made me very tapped into a lot of the things that are happening. And so, I go. We go inside. I know some people who are there, which I’m really excited about. So I was like, “Okay, so I’m not entirely alone.” So I’m meeting other writers, other Instagram people that I know and love and adore, and I’m like, “Okay, I feel good. I don’t feel completely disconnected.” She starts reading and people are asking questions, and we’re in this beautiful church, and the church is full. Nicole Richie, who’s, like, her best friend, opens the conversation because she’s Nicole Richie and she’s friends with Cleo Wade. And then they have a beautiful conversation.

And then there were some technical issues going on in the church, so we had to move where we were doing the book signing or the meet and greet with her, and I usually skip meet and greets because I feel like having known very small versions of them, they’re overwhelming sometimes, and as much as you want to be so intentional and all there, I get how they can be.


So I was like, “Oh, I’m not gonna add to her line,” but something about it was like, “No, I’m gonna get in this line.” And then I was like, “Do I give her my book? Is that weird? Why do I feel the need to give her my book?” But I literally wrote that quote in the line waiting to go see her because I was processing why am I waiting in this line. I think I waited about an hour, actually, and there was like, “Well, I’m close to home. It’s not super late. I don’t have anything to do tomorrow.” But I felt like there was something deeper happening with me of like why do I need to see her. Why do I need to give her my book? I think there was just this past of me that just wanted to be like, “I’m in this world too. I love you. I love your work,” and there was part of me that honestly just wanted to be seen by her as another artist and as another peer.

The line took so long because she’s so freaking sweet. She is so otherworldly kind. So she’s not just taking pictures with everyone. She’s talking with them. There was a family (two moms and their girls) who did a little friend date, but they also brought the girls with them, and they had another book, and Cleo’s literally crouched down in her designer dress reading this book to the two girls, and she just was so intentional.

And so, I get there, and I’m like, “Thank you so much. I’ve loved your work for a while. You look great.” And she was like, “Well, coming from someone like you,” and she was complimenting my outfit. Then I’m holding my book behind my back as we’re taking pictures, and I was like, “Um, I don’t know if this is weird. I’m also a poet, and I recently wrote a book as well, and a lot of the things you were talking about in your book really resonated.”


And she was like, “Is this mine?” And she literally grabbed it from me and was like, “Can I have this?” There was just something in that that I just needed in that moment. I feel like I was extremely discouraged. I know that growth is a big thing, and I’m not growing the way I want to. But there was a part of me that just humanly needed to be seen by her, and not just as a person, but specifically seen as a fellow artist, as a fellow writer.

And so, I wrote that while waiting in line to go see her, and I needed to process through why I was doing that. And then it was like, okay, the idea of you’re trying so hard to prove yourself that you forget even the self you’re trying to prove. A lot of it was that moment, yes, but I think that moment just created space for me to think about a lot of things of just like how I still code my language around certain people to make them think that I’m still the level of Evangelical Christian that I was even though I know in my heart of hearts that I’m well past that, that I don’t have that same spirit, that I’m not operating in that same space, that, yes I pray, yes I believe in divinity, but I don’t believe in the fear-based aspect of it. I don’t believe in the pain aspect of it. Someone asked me recently if I prayed about something, and I was like, “I don’t transactionally pray anymore.” I don’t pray like God is this genie and all my wishes are either gonna be granted or I’m gonna be told to do something that I don’t want to do as a response to it. I just don’t pray that way.


And so, there was that moment that I think helped me spark of like what are we overcompensating for? Why are we going to these great heights to not be this person? Just say you’re not that person anymore. But there’s still so much fear around that, and I think that was another level of my unfolding, honestly. I mean, I wrote the book. It came out in March, but I’m still doing it. The process still keeps going, like I said in the book. It’s cyclical. It happens, it’s repeated and all over the place, and so, I’m back in that space of like, “Oh, this is my next round of awakening, of, like, what are you proving and who even is this self that you’re so desperately trying not to just prove but hold onto.”

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for sharing that behind-the-scenes moment, and it’s just a reminder for me to bring my notebook or have my Notes on my phone open all the time and to process. But what’s striking me also is — this is what I’m hearing and correct this because I want to make sure I’m not putting words into this. But there’s almost this check of, “Why am I in this line? What am I trying to prove?” And in that process, you decided that you just wanted a witness, and I think that’s different, you know, wanting to feel seen because I think, in any of us, the gift of witnessing is so powerful and that you got the witness. There was this sign to just be seen, like you said, as a fellow artist, a fellow author, a fellow poet.

The other thing that keeps coming up in our conversation is the role deconstruction is playing in this proving piece for you. And for you it’s faith. I know for a lot of other people it might be other ways of conditioning that we have had, but it’s amazing how there’s a desire to be seen by someone and not to be told that we matter, but just there’s that validation, that connection. There’s something really powerful there, and then this piece about just as you continue to look at proving, proving is very much connected to your deconstruction process and feels really powerful.


Arielle Estoria: Yeah. Yeah, I think I spent so much time, like I said. There were waves where I didn’t have to prove because I just was. I just was the poet that was at all the churches and all the Christian universities. I just was in those spaces. I just was also at church but also going to yoga retreats and doing those things. I was doing both, so it was okay, you know? And then it got to the point where I started to shift a little bit, and it was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why aren’t you just was anymore? Why aren’t you just doing that in that way still,” as if there’s no room to grow and change. And sometimes it’s really funny how outside of that world I feel, and I still go to church, you know? I still love a worship song. I still love a Maverick City. I’m still very in those spaces, but it just looks so different and honestly so free.

I feel like I operate less tip-toey. But there was still so much of me that felt like I needed to hold onto that still, and sometimes it still does in certain settings because of having always been told the example I was or the leader I was and how hard it is I feel like to shift outside of those spaces when you’re the example. How do you grow and change and be something outside of that when you’ve always been put on this pedestal, almost, of a leader, of an example, of the poster child for the things, you know? And then you’re like, “Well, that doesn’t serve me anymore,” you know? And there’s not a whole lot of room or permission for that not to serve you anymore. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So we have to just write that permission for ourselves.

Arielle Estoria: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: But there comes with that some inevitable loss or at least fear of loss, whether it’s community, whether it’s people close to us.

Arielle Estoria: Mm-hmm.


Rebecca Ching: But, like you said at the beginning of our interview, and I say this to people a lot, it is amazing what we do to avoid being misunderstood.

Arielle Estoria: Oh, yes.

Rebecca Ching: And so, if we understand what we’re fighting for, I start to just tell everyone, “You will be misunderstood. It’s just a fact.”

Arielle Estoria: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: “So what’s gonna tether you? What’s gonna anchor you? Because you will.”

Arielle Estoria: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: And then what really it comes down to is as long as my core people and myself, we’re on the same page, then we’ll just ride the wave of the west. But instead of trying to avoid — the avoidance of being misunderstood I think falls into that what you called insecure proving —

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: — versus, “Here I am. Hopefully it lands, and if not, okay, next.” 

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And it’s obviously rarely that tidy, but I so appreciate that. Another thing you wrote in that same email is you’ve been noting that you’re working to make yourself seem presentable, hirable, seen, relevant, connected, and yet available as possible. I put this in quotes, and you referenced this at the beginning of our talk too, but I hear this literally from so many people, and I’ve felt that too, especially for women, women of color, those in the LGBT community (particularly those who are trans also). I’m wondering if you can tell me about a time when you noticed yourself over functioning or over delivering in your work, particularly in the digital and entertainment spaces.

Arielle Estoria: Mm, I think one of the first ones that comes to mind is just because of my following and the platform in which I’ve created, a lot of it had to do with a lot of bigger-profiled white celebrities, white influencers, white authors sharing my page or sharing my work, especially during the Black Lives Matter and a lot of that conversation was the pass-the-mic era of things.


And I think I felt instantly this pressure, then, to only talk about my Blackness or to only post my art and my poems that were related, then, to Blackness, and I found myself operating outside of having to post my poems about Breonna Taylor or post my things about being a Black woman or post the one time I was called a derogatory term, and it just became so like, “I don’t live here. I am a Black person. I’m always gonna be a Black person. But I don’t live in this constant state of narrating about my Blackness,” in the same way that I feel about being a plus-sized or a bigger-bodied person. It became a point where it was like I can only post myself in a swimsuit. I can only post about how I’m big and my husband is small. I can only post about poems about being in a body, and I was like half the time I just want to be in my body. I don’t want to talk about my body. I don’t have to have to show other people what it’s like to be in my body as a Black person, as a Black woman, as a curvy Black woman. Sometimes I’m just here.

I think I did have a post at some point where I’m like, “I don’t want to always be showing you my stretch marks or my dimples on my page all the time.” My engagement goes in waves because I don’t stay in those spaces, because I don’t allow the algorithm and social media to confine me to only this niche part of who you are, can you make a social platform.


I refuse to stay there, and I’ve, I guess, suffered the consequences is a word for it. But I just can’t only talk about one version or one dimension of me. I’m gonna talk about the fullness in which I exist and the fullness in how I show up. In both of those places there was this constant having to push out conversation or push out art or push out content solely in those conversations. I’m like, “And for what?” For me to stay here, and then the moment I start talking about something else, then I’m not engaged with as much because I’m a multifaceted, multiversed human being? That’s insane. Why do we do that?

So those were definitely two instances where I was just like I can’t stay here because now I’m bored. I don’t know if that’s my Enneagram 4-ness. I don’t know if that’s my Libra energy. I don’t know if that’s my artist energy. But I’m like, “I don’t want to keep talking about this. I’m bored with this. What else is there to explore? What else is there to learn about? What else is there to share about myself?” And I think I go into that space. So yeah, there were definitely both of those moments. And I don’t post a bunch of content around my faith, about things like that just because I really learned how much it’s so personal and it was made to be so public for so long, and I was just like, “This is mine. I don’t owe it to anyone,” and I think that comes down to my Blackness and my body. “This is mine. I don’t owe an example or a post to anyone about it.”

[Inspirational Music]

Rebecca Ching: Leading is hard. Leading is also often controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm, and move you from a place of building trust to hustling and proving your worthiness.

Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions but sometimes when the stakes seem higher and can bring up old echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid in your plan and action. Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and evermore polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing it safe and small.


Now, leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights. It honestly is brave and bold work to stay the course and know who you are, know what you have to offer when the future is unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up and have you question yourself. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protectors of cynicism and the desire to constantly prove yourself at bay and foster a hope that is both actionable and aligned.

So, when the stakes are high and you don’t want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than you were told.

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

[Inspirational Music]

What are the stakes, then, right now for owning what is yours and not what people are expecting from you —

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: — as you navigate both your career and your wellbeing?


Arielle Estoria: Yeah, well, I think you create people — especially now we’re seeing people with platforms always need to be talking. I was even thinking of that recently. I was like, oh, I think this letter that we’re reading (the prove one) might have been the last one I wrote, and even waking up this morning with this anxiety of like, “I haven’t posted on my Substack. I haven’t said words lately,” and this constant need to talk, this constant need to be posting and sharing, I’m like I am really learning that I don’t operate in that space and finding myself feeling less guilty for it, but then also finding that less opportunities come because of it, you know? Less doors open because I’m not constantly feeding the thing, you know? Honestly, my peace is more intact because of it, and so, I guess that’s the worthy trade. But I was feeling that for quite a while of, like, “Oh, I’m not choosing to feed this thing in the way it’s demanding to be fed.”

And even Substack is the same thing. I’m subscribed to a lot of different authors and people, and I’m like it’s constant. It’s just constant, constant, constant, and I’m like this is not sustainable. This does not work for us as human beings, and so, having more days where it’s just like — my husband had the day off on Tuesday, so we went to the beach, and we just sat, and I read Sula because I’m doing a book club, and I was like I needed to get some reading done and the book was incredible, and he was doing homework. We were just sitting at the beach, and I didn’t feel the need to post a picture all the time. I didn’t feel the need to write a post about it. I’m just like, oh, god, I think sometimes it’s okay to just live and not have to document it or process it or write about it all the time, and I just can’t sustain this thing that constantly demands to be fed. My peace also demands to be fed, and I’d much rather feed that.

Rebecca Ching: And yet, you’re in a business that, by you being on social media, you writing, that gives you more opportunities to be seen, to be noticed in the business you’re in.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah. Mm-hmm.


Rebecca Ching: So, yeah, I just want to nudge this again. Are you still figuring this out? Is there a flow for you? What are you doing to kind of navigate the tension of the world we’re in? But also with being a writer and an actor and wanting to get yourself out there, those fields are so competitive.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: How do you navigate that while still staying grounded in things that protect you and your peace?

Arielle Estoria: I think it’s a matter of doing the necessary things. Me posting about my auditions, me posting — I posted a headshot yesterday because I was really excited about them and I really liked how it turned out, but I didn’t have to do that. So me doing things that are like this is not — I don’t have to post about my acting journey on TikTok. Those are not necessary things. Those are great things that might turn into something, but that’s the thing. It’s like we’re doing those things in hopes that maybe they turn into something, you know? And so, I think really getting to the point where I’m leaning into sharing and posting in a way that feels good and easeful and not forced and rushed.

So I posted this morning, you know, this carousel of “In November” kind of mantras, like, “In November, we’re moving slow.” “In November, we’re finding peace, we’re inviting peace,” and, “In November, we’re cozy,” you know? And finding these things I’m trying to also usher in in these last two months of, like, I’m not a beginning or end-of-the-year person who’s like, “We’ve got to finish! We’ve got to do all the things,” or get to the beginning of the year and we’re like, “Okay! This is gonna start! We’re gonna do all the things!”


I’m very much so in my, “Oh, the year’s gonna be what the year’s gonna be, and I’m gonna make sure that I’m held and that I’m at ease in the process of it.”

So I think just coming to a point of, “Yeah, I’m just gonna move and operate in a way that feels good, and if it doesn’t feel good then I’m not gonna do it.” I still have an audition to submit after this, you know? I still am getting digitals done, which is just like very bare-faced kind of neutral photos because I’m still putting effort. I’m still casting necessary things out in the world that I’m wanting and that I’m wanting to be a part of. But the excess stuff I’m not doing and then just tiring myself out unless I’m excited about it. Like, I got a jacket this week, and I did a styling video because I was having fun with it. And will I do another styling video anytime soon? I don’t know, you know? I think just giving myself the grace to not have to constantly be putting out, constantly be showing up, constantly be saying something. I just don’t know if that’s sustainable, and I’m not really writing and in my concentration as much as I want to be because of that.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, it sounds like you’re showing up still in consistent ways but allowing inspiration and joy and intentionality versus the “I have to. I should. I need to prove –”

Arielle Estoria: Yes. Yes.

Rebecca Ching: “– so you see me. You never know. Someone might miss me.” It’s more like, “Hey, I’m gonna be on here. So kind of that dance is what I’m hearing.

Well, you mentioned your book The Unfolding: An Invitation to Come Home to Yourself, and I asked you to read a poem called “Nothing to Prove.” Would you mind reading that? It’s on page 121.


Arielle Estoria: Yeah, “Nothing to Prove.”

“They ask me why I pose in my underwear on social media, ask me what it is I’m trying so hard to prove. I say ain’t about the reason for freedom anyway, that we don’t have to prove anything at all, so we dance in cropped cotton bras and high-waisted underwear. We pose in lace that makes us feel like whatever women we want to be without the hiding. We reveal what has always been underneath our coverings as they tell us to stay covered, keep quiet, spine not so tall, trapping us into exhaustion from holding up everyone else’s fear of our bodies that we no longer have for ourselves. He tells me, ‘Only prostitutes in biblical times used their bodies to lure people away from God.’ I tell him, ‘I’m not trying to lure anyone anywhere. I am simply trying to keep God in.’”

Rebecca Ching: How is this approach to releasing the drive to prove different from other conventional wisdom on this topic?

Arielle Estoria: Mm, I think for me that poem was definitely in a season where I was having to vouch for myself a lot, not just prove but almost defend my personness, you know?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Arielle Estoria: That I was constantly experiencing my Enneagram 4 nightmare of, “No, you’re not getting me, and I don’t know how to explain to you how to understand how I’m moving and operating,” when for me, my intention feels very open. I feel like a very raw and open person that tries to make their intention as plain as possible because I don’t like when there’s not clarity to things or to people especially. So that poem was really birthed out of a season of, “Why are you posing in your underwear? Don’t you know better,” or “You do better,” or whatever, you know? It’s just like I’m just being! I’m not trying to really prove anything, and it was that question.


I was asked, “What are you trying to prove? We’ve always told you you were beautiful. You’ve always been raised in a good household. What are you doing?” And I’m like I’m not operating outside of those teachings or those raisings. I’m operating within how I’ve now walked in and interpreted who I am and how I show up in the world.

Rebecca Ching: Ooh.

Arielle Estoria: And I think that poem was my final space of this is doesn’t feel outside of who I am! I’ve kind of always been this person. I’m just really stepping into the adult version of her, and I’m sorry if that’s not the version you wanted. But that’s the version that I am, you know, and that I’m operating out of, and that feels good. And maybe she’ll shift again, but this is who’s living and breathing now, and I think that was my own personal permission slip for myself of like I’m not trying to lead people anywhere. And that’s the other thing. It’s like that constant pressure from Evangelical spaces of like, “You’re leading people places!” And I’m like, “What people! There’s not one either,” you know? And I’m not responsible for how everyone in this world lives. I don’t find myself, as a person of faith, I don’t carry that anymore, you know?

So that poem was definitely my own personal permission slip for a lot of different spaces, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: There’s a whole conversation here that Evangelical and white Christian supremacy culture — are they different? Are they not?

Arielle Estoria: Sure.

Rebecca Ching: But there’s an element of that Evangelical space where when they say you’re leading this way, then really it’s about them trying to control you and go, “You’re operating out of who I think you’re supposed to be or who I want you to be or who I think you should be, and I’m gonna go throw on some shame and weaponize something so sacred as your faith to get you afraid of losing that and this and then distort what power is.”

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: So I hear that, and I feel a little fired up, again, because I feel like I’m having these conversations a lot.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And there’s something very scary to power-over systems when we come into who we are and are not externalizing our power and our worth. When we’re not proving, whether it’s, “Am I Christian enough? Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Am I successful enough?” All those things, if we don’t externalize it, then those power-over systems lose their power. And so, it’s a big threat when we step into, like you said, “Well, sorry, it’s not a problem.” I’m like, well, hashtag sorry not sorry. Like, you know, “No, I’m done. You actually haven’t earned the right to have an opinion over this.” So maybe there are a handful of people in my life that do.

Arielle Estoria: Sure.

Rebecca Ching: When they’ll say, “Rebecca, what’s happening here?”

Arielle Estoria: Yeah. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: But this collective, “I don’t know you but if you say this, I have an opinion on you and I’m going to say really awful things, and that’s done with love,” all that BS. So I just call it all BS, and I think it’s dangerous. And so, it’s the harm. It sounds like you’re coming out of something so much more expansive and taking up space and shining light. So many folks could stay in that, whether it’s an Evangelical background or just some sort of belief about their worth and their value, and it’s a hangover that can last for decades. So I really appreciate that.

I want to shift a little bit just slightly to success because often proving and success seem to be first cousins. And you wrote in your book, “I think having to operate out of an analytical way of defining success in the last few years really started to take a toll on me.” Do you remember what was going on in your life when you wrote that?


Arielle Estoria: Mm, I think a lot of that was analytical, but it was also very much so like, “This is the path. It’s very much so that you graduate high school then you graduate college, and then after college you get the spouse and you get the house and you get the thing, you get the thing, you get the thing.” And I had already known that I was not operating within that space. I graduated a year later. I did not even date in college, let alone walk away with a spouse, you know? I was already going the more unconventional route in so many ways of double majoring and then dropping one of my majors and then graduating from a private Christian university only to be a freelance artist. So much of how I was operating was so outside of analytical, so outside of conventional, and yet I still kept trying to force myself in it, you know, force myself in a space of, “But it still makes sense,” you know? “Yeah, I’m trying to be an artist, but also I have all these other jobs,” you know? “I’m doing the good thing. Look at me! I’m still good. I’m still doing the approachable thing. I’m still doing the conventional thing,” even though I really wasn’t.

And then when it got to the point of more bigger life decisions of books that I was writing and putting out in the world, and that being outside of the realms in which people wanted or expected for me and finding the person that I fell in love with and knew I wanted to spend — so much of it was just like, “Oh! I’ve constantly been in this outside of conventional spaces and outside of conventional thinking.” But I kept telling myself that I was still in the wavelength of what made sense. I still was in the heart of being — I was still operating in a way of even though it was slightly unconventional, somehow I always got the applause still at the end of it.


And then I realized I was getting to the point where I wasn’t getting the applause at the end of it and can I still wholeheartedly and courageously walk in it and trust in it knowing that it was good for me and that there wasn’t an applause or a “you’re good” or a gold sticker at the end of it for whatever reason, and could I still walk in that route.

So I think I’ve always been this way. I watch kid videos of myself, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, we’re actually exactly where we’re supposed to be,” because she was running around with feather boas making up songs and being other people, you know, in the trees. So this feels actually pretty spot on, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I think that’s awesome. And again, another reminder of all of these narrow, little boxes that I think so many of us try to fit in, again, whether it’s a place of worship, whether it’s a workplace, whether it’s our families, school. There are so many shoulds still, and I don’t know.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I do feel like the youngins get a little bit of a bad rap, but I’m digging what my kids are saying. I’m digging how they’re like, “Okay.” They just don’t care.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: They still feel some of the grind I think of just having to make money and be successful.

Arielle Estoria: Yes, of course.

Rebecca Ching: They’re navigating those messages. But I’m just grateful to hear that this is something that you’re rumbling with now because when it goes unaddressed, it can really, really become malignant.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So, how has your understanding of success changed since you were maybe that young girl running around —

Arielle Estoria: Yeah, sure. 

Rebecca Ching: — growing up internalizing these messages to today? What does that mean to you today?


Arielle Estoria: Yeah, I think success still has always been around not materialistic things. It’s always been am I doing the things that I love? Am I doing the things that excite me and fill me up? I was chatting with a mentor, and she was like, “How’s job stuff going?” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m casting nets. We’re seeing what happens.” She was like, “Well, maybe you need to meet with people in your dream job,” and I was like, “I’m in my dream job! It just is not always paying me all the time.” [Laughs]

But I’m 100% in where I want to be. I’m making my own schedule, that I get to wake up and be week to week in spaces that excite me. I want to be on people’s sets, and I’m on people’s sets, you know? I want to be in rooms where conversations and creativity are happening. I’m in rooms where conversations and creativity are happening. I just want more of it and I want it more consistently.

And so, I definitely think I don’t know how I interpreted success as a kid. I think being an adult felt successful at that time. Now I’m just like, “Ah, being an adult’s for the birds sometimes.” But I think mostly it’s just a matter of I do feel like I’m in a marriage that feels rich and feels full. I’m in work that I love. I just want more of it. And so, I’m like this feels like success to me, and in some ways it goes in waves.

I think that’s one thing I’m having to debunk quite a bit is that success is this constant uphill, sustainable thing when it’s not. It’s so ebb and flow. It’s so in seasons and being more comfortable with that, being more easeful. That is something I think, if anything, I’m really shifting when it comes to the idea of success, that it’s not always high mountains and high moments.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.


Arielle Estoria: That it is very much so the waves of things.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and I’m not wired to be as ebb and flow.

Arielle Estoria: [Laughs] Yes.

Rebecca Ching: I’ve had to adjust. What are the constants that I need? What’s my minimum so I can — you know, the bills get paid —

Arielle Estoria: Yeah. Right.

Rebecca Ching: — the kids are taken care of. But those other ambitions, those excitements, the things, what am I making space for? And it isn’t just this linear path or steadfast steady path, and I think that’s such a good reminder. We also have this false sense of control over it and then feel like we’re at fault —

Arielle Estoria: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: — if we are not getting it. But I will say success and making a really good living and being able to pay the bills and be generous with it, I think that’s something that’s important too. But I hear that, and sometimes we put the numbers so far ahead of what really does bring us joy, right? You’ve heard the stories of, “Oh, you can’t major in art. You need a degree that will pay the bills,” right?

Arielle Estoria: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: And so, I just, yeah, think that if, in our soul, we’re not doing what delights us, we go dark, and that’s the zombie life, and that’s rough.

Arielle Estoria: That’s true.

Rebecca Ching: This was such a fun conversation! Before we wrap up, I have some quickfire questions for you.

Arielle Estoria: Great!

Rebecca Ching: You referred to this I think already but what are you reading right now?

Arielle Estoria: I’m reading Sula by Toni Morrison, which has been so good. That book is pretty wild — I was not prepared — in the best possible way. And it actually talks a lot about just — her question in her prologue is what would you do if there was no hand to stop you? Who would these women be without the rules, without the conditioning, and it’s pretty wild, and I really love it. So I’m reading Sula. I’m also listening to Thicker Than Water, Kerry Washington’s autobiography. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, and she read it? Does she read it?

Arielle Estoria: Yeah, she’s reading it, which is —

Rebecca Ching: Oh, jeeze. Of course.


Arielle Estoria: After listening to Viola Davis’, I was like this is the only way I actually want to listen to an autobiography is if they’re reading it out loud. I want to hear it. I really love the storytelling in audiobooks. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: What song are you playing on repeat right now?

Arielle Estoria: Oh, my gosh. It’s not really songs, it’s albums. So the three albums that are just on constant loop right now are Samba. He’s a British singer/songwriter/rapper. Jamil Woods, who is a poet. The song “Tiny Garden” is one of my favorites. And then Maddie Zahm. Those are the three albums that I just listen to on repeat all week long since they’ve all come out in the same week. So those are the three.

Rebecca Ching: What is the best TV show or movie you’ve seen recently?

Arielle Estoria: Reservation Dogs was incredible. It’s about these kids on a Native reservation, and it is some of the most beautiful storytelling I’ve seen in a long time. It’s funny. It’s light-hearted. They ended it at the perfect time. Even though you want more, you’re also like, “Yeah, this feels good,” and now you’re just wondering what those characters are still doing, how they’re still living. Yeah, Reservation Dogs. My husband, John, was watching it, and I tag-teamed in a few episodes in, and then we went back and rewatched, and then I finished it with him, and it was incredible. That and Only Murders in the Building, which has been so fun to watch.

Rebecca Ching: Only Murders is so good. We just wrapped the latest season.

Arielle Estoria: It’s so fun. Yeah, it’s so fun.

Rebecca Ching: We were watching it with our whole family.

Arielle Estoria: Yes!

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. So good. What is your favorite piece of eighties pop culture?

Arielle Estoria: Eighties pop culture. That’s, I mean, the Madonna/Prince era. Anything in that space I could —


Rebecca Ching: You’re speaking my love language!

Arielle Estoria: Yeah, that carried. I’m an early nineties kid, but I know my Madonna and Prince, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Rest in peace, Prince.

Arielle Estoria: Yes, yes.

Rebecca Ching: Ugh, miss him. As Madonna’s out touring as we’re recording this.

Arielle Estoria: Uh-huh! Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And I’m like, “I wonder what Prince would be doing if he were still with us today.”

Arielle Estoria: Mm, I know.

Rebecca Ching: Making some incredible music.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: What is your mantra right now?

Arielle Estoria: I think my mantra right now is just like inviting ease, whatever that means, whatever that looks like. I spent a lot of this year trying to maintain brand relationships, trying to maintain a social media influencer perspective, trying to maintain all these things, and it got to the point where I was like I’m tired. [Laughs] I’m done. And it’s November, so we’re about to circle back into next year anyway, so let me just let a lot of this go. Just inviting ease. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: What’s an unpopular opinion you hold?

Arielle Estoria: I think boba is disgusting. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Arielle Estoria: I’m a texture person, so I can’t do a lot of textures. And that’s not just boba. Ricotta cheese, blah. I am a baked sushi girlie, and people will probably 100% fight me on that, and that’s fine. I’ll go to sushi with you, but I probably will have a baked salmon roll. I’m just gonna be 100% honest. Textures are really hard for me, and I won’t taste it. If you’re like, “It’s so good and the flavor,” it does not matter. My tastebuds will fight you because it only tastes the texture of things. But I love going to it because a lot of my friends love boba, but I’m like, “Can I get it just a tea? Can I not have the things?”

Rebecca Ching: Just a tea.

Arielle Estoria: No tapioca, please. Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: Lastly, who or what inspires you to be a better leader and human?

Arielle Estoria: Who or what? That’s a great question. I think who: my niece. Just because she’s three and she’s growing up in this world that I’m like we’ve got to make a space that allows her to be her best, fullest version of herself, most free version of herself. I think about that a lot. And then also my husband. He just constantly is in a space of wanting to learn, wanting to understand, and that really helps me tap into that more in a more logistical side. I will feel deeply for all the things, but he will learn about all the things, and that’s how he feels deeply. And so, I think the combination of the two really keep me intact for sure.

Rebecca Ching: Where can people find you and connect with you and your work and your book?

Arielle Estoria: You can find me at www.arielleestoria.com. That’s on Instagram, Twitter/X, (I guess, if that’s what it’s called), Threads, Spotify and iTunes for my poetry and music. You can find The Unfolding wherever books, audiobooks, and eBooks are sold. I prefer that you go to your local bookstore. If they don’t have it, tell them to order it! And then find another local bookstore that has an online page and purchase from them to keep those spaces alive.

Rebecca Ching: I’ll make sure to link that to my bookshop that we have.

Arielle Estoria: Yeah!

Rebecca Ching: So, Arielle, thank you so much for coming back to the show! 

Arielle Estoria: Thank you!

Rebecca Ching: I hope you do it again. This was a really good conversation. I’m so excited to see what unfolds for you in the months and the years to come.

Arielle Estoria: Yes!

Rebecca Ching: So I really appreciate you.

Arielle Estoria: Thank you.

[Inspirational Music]


Rebecca Ching: Before you go, I want to make sure you take away some of the important learnings from this Unburdened Leader conversation with Arielle Estoria. It was so great to have her back on the show! Arielle reminded us how universal the experience of feeling like you constantly need to prove yourself to others is so common, right? She also shared how her roots in the church and as an artist exacerbate the need for her to prove. And we all have our roots that really magnify this desire, this need to prove and hustle for our worthiness from others.

Arielle also modeled in this conversation how, when we get clear on the messaging we internalize and what’s contributing to this constant need to prove, we can reauthor who and what we listen to along with these messages. Our wounds often serve as catalysts for personal and professional growth, particularly when we experience relational trauma. But by acknowledging your relational wounds, understanding the root of your need for constant proving, you can develop a practice of ongoing curiosity, healing, and growth in all areas of your life.

I’m curious. Are there certain spaces or people that activate the need to constantly prove yourself? And how do you respond to feeling vulnerable around people that matter to you? How can you better lead by building trust through deep connections versus feeling like you have to have everyone’s approval? Our need to constantly prove ourselves often finds its roots deeply intertwined with past relational trauma (we talked a lot about that today), and when we take the time to understand and address these burdens, we can move beyond the cycle of validation seeking and proving and lead from a more authentic, calm, and confident place, and this is the ongoing work of an unburdened leader.


Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, free Unburdened Leader resources, along with ways to sign up for my Unburdened weekly email and ways to work with me at www.rebeccaching.com! And if this episode was impactful to you, I’d be honored if you left a rating, a review, and shared it with a few folks who you think may benefit from it. And this episode was produced by the incredible team Yellow House Media!

[Inspirational Music]

Comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

EP 29: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 2

Everybody’s carrying a burden that’s weighing them down. If you dare to care, it is inevitable you will end up carrying the burdens from grief, betrayal, and rejection. And these burdens are often unseen. These invisible struggles fuel loneliness, shame, and despair. Eventually, the unaddressed burdens we carry start to impact our ability to live […]


EP 27: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 1

We watch leaders crash & burn all the time. We watch with morbid fascination as leaders fall out of grace because their unaddressed pain led them on an unsustainable path of poor choices–even dangerous and deadly choices–to avoid feeling the vulnerability of rejection. Those times when you experienced the pain of rejection leave their mark […]


EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don’t understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can’t even grasp how our words & […]

Mental Well-being

EP 19: Defining Your Own Version Success with Natalie Borton, Founder of Natalie Borton Designs

The quickest way to crash and burn your business and life is to place your worthiness and safety with the opinions of others. This may sound like a captain-obvious statement but the pull to care what others think is something fierce. And it is sneaky. The competitive drive is no stranger to many of you. […]

Work-life Integration

EP 17: Community Over Competition with Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society Natalie Franke

Community over competition is indeed a well-worn hashtag. The cynical can dismiss it. Those beat up by year after year of injustice understandably call BS. But in practice, leading with the lens of community over competition is subversive and culture-shifting. Community over competition requires deep life-long work to unburden the load we carry of scarcity […]

Leading Teams

EP 02: How Self-Leadership Saves You From The Relentless Drive To Succeed with Dr. Richard Schwartz

My body was telling me to take a step back and reevaluate. Five years ago I had pneumonia and I couldn’t really do anything other than prop myself up on the couch and breathe… …breathe and think about how I ended up in this mess I’d run myself into the ground. My schedule was full-to-overflowing. […]


And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.