It’s good to celebrate life. Find joy. Treat yourself. I love to buy gifts for myself. I bought myself a nice stone ring for my birthday. You may have seen it in my Insta pictures. The point is, Be Kind.
As a part of my series about “How To Learn To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Sophia Husbands.Sophia is certainly not a square peg. She is a former civilian of the Conveyor Belt Lifestyle, which she left to pursue her passion for inspiring people to feel confident about being their awesome selves. If you follow her on Instagram, you will see she shares honest extracts from her life.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
I would say it starts with hitting rock-bottom. I lost my father at a young age, and around the same time, I also began a toxic love relationship. During this period, I relocated to another country and unexpectedly lost my lucrative job due to the economic crisis. I returned to the United Kingdom and started a dark period in my life. I sometimes refer to that time as my “Black Spiderman” days.
It was during my downtime that I found New Age thinking and wellness. I was introduced to the life coach, Gabby Bernstein, who I found interesting. She shared her back story about how she had survived a rough period. She said that being open to spirituality, and other concepts, had radically changed her life. One of the significant takeaways I got from her was that no matter what life may throw at us, we have the power to choose how we respond to it.
My experience with Bernstein led me to attend more workshops and wellness classes. I soon learned that self-love was a journey, which was not dictated by another’s path.
I initially started wellness writing as a creative outlet. Soon, editors were showing interest and approaching me. One editor described me as a lifestyle and wellness expert. I came from a training background and decided to use my learning to inspire people.
And here I am.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
I am currently working on my second book in an interactive book series. The working title is The Naked Series. This book follows the structure of the life cycle: the opening; the middle part, where all the action takes place; and the ending. With the pattern of this cycle, there will be waves that will go up and down. Cycles are not constant. The readers will see that the ending does not necessarily mean “the end.” The end can be the start of a new beginning. The book will explore everyday life themes based on my life story. It is going to be delivered via Episodes. You can keep up with my progress on the book by following @LoveHappyBody on Instagram.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?
For the longest time, I did not see my beauty or worth as an individual. I believed my beauty and worth needed to be validated by others. This often led me to enter into unhealthy relationships, not just with others, but also with myself.
My body is naturally slim, and I was waif-like while growing up. As a result, people often identified this as one of my attributes. That made me desirable in their eyes. I gradually put on weight during University, due to lifestyle changes. During that time, someone close to me asked, “What happened to you? You used to be one of the good-looking ones?” That was hurtful because it had honestly taken me several years to get to a place where I felt confident with myself, no matter my size.
Realising that there was more to me than how I looked on the outside was what built my confidence. It was more about how I felt on the inside. It was an inside job that took me years to accomplish. Now I look at my inner qualities. I look at what I add to society and the positive impact I make. I also examine how I make others feel. Everything is interconnected. I learned a lesson about self-value after losing a business and realising that my business partner had taken advantage of me. They did see my worth, and I did not appreciate how valuable I was. That was a big lesson.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
This has to do with ideas, which vary from culture to culture. We saw this in Jessica Simpson’s documentary, “The Price of Beauty,” for example. In some cultures, being curvy is more desirable than in other countries.
Of course, the media and reality shows, like Love Island, with their model-like contestants, do not give a fair representation of society.
The thing about beauty is that it is subjective. The way society has constructed the “ideals of beauty” over the ages has been a fallacy. Those ideals are not attainable to all. In this age of filters and other facial apps, there is a danger of people getting caught up in a “Barbie-like” phenomenon. I am referring to influencers like Khloe Kardashian, who use such technology to create a distorted and unrealistic ideal. She was called out by a fan who compared Khloe’s edited photo with the reality of how she looks every day. Her Barbie-like version was unrecognizable.
Some people who are dissatisfied with trying to attain a “Barbie-like,” unrealistic image, sometimes project their frustrations onto others who are showing their true selves. One example was when the actress Halle Berry was skateboarding while wearing her bikini. Her body showed the results of her healthy living lifestyle. Instead of one critic praising this, they questioned why she was displaying her real self in such away.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
Once you are loving and kind to yourself, you will treat yourself better and accept nothing less than kindness from others.
This is a great foundation for having clarity and setting boundaries with others. This is taking responsibility for your actions, as well as allowing others to be responsible for their actions.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
It is the fear of being single, of having to be in their own company, and of thinking that they are not worthy of anything better.
If the relationship is no longer serving you, and unhealthy to stay in, ask yourself, “Are you tired of compromising your health and emotional wellbeing?” If yes, make an exit plan and execute it! But before that, you need to ask yourself the most important question, “Who do you love the most?”
If the relationship is not toxic, and there is no abuse taking place, then it could be a case of not connecting with your partner. Get clarity on what it is that you want and where your boundaries are. It could be that communication has broken down. An important point to note is that we cannot change the “essence” of who a person is, but we need to focus on whether or not our needs are being met. This is accomplished through compromise and knowing whether you and your partner complement each other.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
In my debut HuffPost article, “Falling in Love With Me, Again,” I shared insights about when I had to work on myself. I had not realized that I had fallen out of love with myself, but there were signs. When I was told, “You don’t love yourself as much as you love the man you are dating,” it was raw, and I realized I needed to do some work on myself.
So, I had to examine my back story and look at the key points that had impacted me. This was not easy. When you are doing this, it may be helpful to get support from a loved one or a therapist.
First, if we are starting the process of self-realization, we must ask ourselves, “Where does love come from?” This is the key to how we treat ourselves and how we interact with others. From this, we will see how things are interconnected. We will see that we do not need to go into a separationist mode. We can also see people as “soul mates,” not necessarily in the romantic sense. We can see how they come into our lives to show us something and teach us a lesson. So, from being in a toxic love relationship, we realise how to be kinder to ourselves. We learn how to create better boundaries.
The second part of self-realization is identifying your values. Write down the qualities that are important to you, and then filter them down to five. My values are connection, adventure, autonomy, play, and flow. They help me when I am at a crossroads in my life, and I need to make decisions. So, if they are not aligned, then I know I need to make a change.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
It’s good to take yourself on date nights. Look after yourself. How you treat yourself will also be reflected in how others treat you.
We need a time out to reflect and relax.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
Once you have an improved relationship with yourself and you set boundaries within your relationships, you will have more ease and understanding in your relationships. Often, the main cause of why there is miscommunication or dissatisfaction in social interactions is because there is no clarity. One, or both parties, has not been honest.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
In answer to part a): Individuals need to stop comparing themselves to others. They need to take breaks from social media and “the noise.” They should spend time in nature and reconnect with themselves. The distraction of noise can make it harder to tune into your inner voice.
In answer to b): Society needs to stop judging people.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
I would tell your readers to read Step 8 of my book, Be Happy, S.I.P. (S.I.P. stands for, Single Important Person.) Yes, I took a play on words with V.I.P. Why should there be a “Very Important Person?” We are all Single Important Persons. This is a title we should treasure, especially in a world that supports idolisation. We see an example of this with insta-celebrities, whom the media says we should admire. It is dangerous to allow others to dictate to us or to create a medium that defines what is socially acceptable as beauty. What makes a person valuable?
Before I begin, “Be kind to you.” This is at the foundation of self-love. When you are facing a difficult dilemma, or you are disappointed, it is great to begin there. For example, while in search of a romantic relationship, you may have encountered a potential partner who you soon realised did not want to be fully available to you. It was not your fault that you attracted this person. It was not your fault that you fell for them, you just wanted to form a connection, create a partnership.
Here are 5 steps extracted from this section of Be Happy, S.I.P :
- Step One: Get comfortable in your own company. Getting to know yourself and discovering your interests is amazing. One of my biggest breakthroughs occurred when I finally realised how I enjoyed being in my own company. This occurred after coming out of a long-term relationship when I had feared being single and on my own. It was so freeing on one Sunday afternoon, after working with a client, to sit alone in a crowded restaurant and eat lovely food. I realised that it was okay and comfortable to just be in my own company.
- Step Two: You are a Single Important Person. It is important to know your value as an individual. Being in a relationship does not make you a part of a “whole.” In a relationship, you can add to and complement another person. For many years, probably because I heard that song with the lyrics, “You’re nobody til somebody loves you…” I thought, what about me? Am I not worthy?
- Step Three: It is good to have outside interests. Because I went through a tough break up, I tapped right back into my writing, which led me to inspire others.
- Step Four: Your health is your wealth. What you eat, how you move your body, and what you listen to and read can enrich your life. Increase your “feel-good.” I love to cycle. I can go on adventures, keep fit, and stimulate my mind.
- Step Five: It’s good to celebrate life. Find joy. Treat yourself. I love to buy gifts for myself. I bought myself a nice stone ring for my birthday. You may have seen it in my Insta pictures. The point is, Be Kind.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
I like the use of self-psychology instead of the common bracket of self-help, which seems like a wider subject. Not that I have a problem with self-help. I prefer to use the word or be put under the umbrella of self-exploration, which is broader. We are, after all, going on a life journey, an exploration.
So, back to podcasts, I cannot name a favourite. I am a person who goes with the flow. I go where the wind blows me. So, I may be drawn to a podcast because I am drawn by the message, or maybe the title resonates with me.
Olga Levancuka is an author who encourages me to challenge the status quo.
Next on my reading list is The Pragmatist’s Guide to Sexuality, by Malcolm and Simone Collins, which takes a close look at how we approach sexuality as a species from a data-driven point of view.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
I am the founder of the Age of Honesty movement. Being honest should be easy, but it is a quality that many find challenging. Why? Because we live in a society that encourages living linearly and discourages individuality. We can see this demonstrated in what I often describe as the “Conveyor Belt Lifestyle,” the lifestyle that sends us civilians into the daily grind. This way of life, in my opinion, has had its day.
We live in a system where bosses sometimes see the employees of an office as a headcount. If you’re unfortunate, they may be tracking your movements and taking into consideration how many waters breaks you have taken. This scientific approach to management belongs to a bygone era, where workers were crammed into factories. The sad thing is that this still goes on. It is not about work but about our lives outside in social settings. If you do not conform to a specific social practice or norm, then you may be shunned or become a victim of the blame/shame/guilt game. This practice is usually a default mode that people use as a weapon, which results in harm. This game is B.S.!
Yes, we need to take responsibility, and in part, this means taking agency in our lives. The first lesson to accomplish this is, to be honest with ourselves and realise that our feelings are valid. We do not need to seek validation from others. We need to set our own boundaries in dealing with others. The following are some questions we can ask ourselves:
- How do I want to feel?
- What are my core values?
- If I am not feeling something, is it because I have moved away from my core values?
- Am I communicating my needs to others?
- Am I saying no when I am not feeling it?
- Am I willing to take responsibility for expressing my truth to others?
Finally, I am.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
My go-to philosophy has been that life is a continuous learning journey. There are always new opportunities to make discoveries about ourselves. I sometimes come across terms or expressions that allude to the fact that there may be something broken in all of us, something that needs to heal. I repeat there is nothing faulty about us. We just need to be gentle and kind to ourselves. When we know that something makes us uncomfortable, or we are triggered by an event, we need to take a step back. We need to ask ourselves what it is that makes us feel the way we do. It may not initially be obvious.
It may seem that we see repeated patterns occurring in our lives. This may be because we have not figured out what we are meant to learn, or we don’t know how we can improve a situation. We are habitual creatures. Hence, it may take us more than one cycle to find the answers.
Me being me, I like to add an addendum quote: “Be your awesome self.” Don’t get distracted by the other wellness gurus suggesting you are not being your “authentic self.” How can anyone other than you know who is the “real” you, the person at the core?
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!