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Sophia Bush Opens Up About Failure and What Makes a Good Relationship

On the Thrive Global Podcast, the actress and activist reveals to Arianna Huffington how stress and exhaustion led to an experience with burnout, and the steps she took to get her mind and body back on track.

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Getty Images

Sophia Bush has never been afraid to challenge anyone that stands in the way of what she believes in. “If someone makes a situation untenable or uncomfortable for me, I’m like, ‘Oh, you think that you can intimidate me?” she tells Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast. “I will Joan of Arc a situation really fast, and just power through the mess and lead.”  She is an actor, entrepreneur, and activist, and she’s relentless in using the influence she has gained from starring roles on shows like “One Tree Hill” and “Chicago P.D.” to push for action on a variety of causes, from equality and access to education to global poverty and the environment. By using her celebrity for good, she’s ignited conversations and sparked change. “The only way we change the world is by showing up,” Bush says.

In her conversation with Arianna Huffington, Bush opens up about everything from metaphysics and politics to love and relationships. She has some especially profound advice on how romantic failure can jumpstart important life lessons

“I’ve had my fair share of failures, and assume I will continue to have them, and I think we have to redefine our relationship with this idea of failure in the first place,” Bush says. “When you’re in the public eye, for example, and you have a relationship that ends, as most do, people say, ‘Oh this failed, this marriage failed, this couple failed.’ Well, no, they just ran their course… If you are one of the lucky ones, one relationship of all the relationships you’ve ever been in will work, which means a successful life in the world of love and intimacy comes with a 99 percent failure rate.”

Huffington asks Bush about what makes a good relationship, which prompts a particularly thoughtful response. “I’m still trying to work it out in real time… I understand that relationships are complicated for men as well. But as a woman, the particular set of complications for me — and I think for a lot of us — are that we have been taught to find a partner for completion. And no one’s really bothered to talk to us about how to complete ourselves,” Bush says. “I think that the greatest disservice we have been done in relationships is that we expect to tether to another person and have that feel okay. And that’s a two man tug of war.”

Bush also speaks candidly with Huffington about her experience with burnout. “I started working on my first television show at 21, and the pace of that industry is not built to take care of you. I started suffering from pretty aggressive chronic fatigue, and didn’t know what to do because I’ve always been a pretty healthy person,” she recalls. “I got some test results back, and discovered that I was in adrenal failure from such heightened stress levels and exhaustion; my body was literally shutting down. That was a wake up call for me… I started to really think about what fills me, what gives me energy.” Going through that challenge prompted Bush to take concrete steps to transform her habits and behavior. “I changed my schedule… I can’t be busy every single second of every single day and be scheduled within five minute increments of every day. I can’t do it and feel sustained.”

Bush famously said, “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.” Now, she’s proven that to be profoundly true. 

Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

Check out the rest of The Thrive Global Podcasts, sponsored by Crest 3D White and in partnership with iHeartRadio, here. To find out more, listen to the full conversation on iHeartRadio, here. You can also listen to the Thrive Global podcast internationally for free on iTunes.

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