Mirror, mirror on the wall, why is the greatest love the hardest of them all? Georgie Bradley finds out how and why we need to be our own soul mate…
It was Emma Watson in an interview for British Vogue who coined the Goop-y phrase “self-partnered” when speaking to her relationship status, replacing it for the highly stigmatised: “single”.
Met with the usual disdain and mockery from the internet, the term was the butt of many meme-able jokes. I have to be honest though, my eyes glazed over when I came across it. Why do we need to insert new language to talk about singledom? It already exists. It speaks more to our insecurities of being alone and the coat of shame that comes with it.
Unravel the PR spin behind self- partnering however, and there’s substance. The idea we should disembark the merry- go-round of finding “the one” and engage with the person we’ll be with forever – me, myself and I – is an essential step towards becoming self-aware. A strand of the contentious Twitter-fuelled rant followed Emma’s newfound terminology (“she can’t get a bloke!” fired off Britain’s most divisive character, Piers Morgan) sparked the notion of self-love and what it will take for us to experience it in a real and long-lasting way – we may as well get to know and like the person we’ll be with forever as of now.
First up, know this from the start: self- love is “an internal conversation that isn’t focused on a destination but rather a journey that’s never-ending as each day you find more ways to love yourself better,” says Cordelia Henry, founder of Pearlescence, a community of female entrepreneurs and business leaders built on creating authentic connections.
As you would shower your best friends with TLC, positive thoughts and energy, why wouldn’t you want to bless yourself with the same? But unfortunately, we are so much more adept at championing others than finding pride for ourselves, and thus falling into the trap of comparing and despairing at our supposed shortcomings.
Why is it that we are still pitting ourselves against each other, at the expense of our own self-worth? “Our minds are always looking at what we lack as opposed to what we have. We then start to compare ourselves to others and it’s this comparison that erodes our self- confidence,” adds Cordelia.
The influx of subliminal messaging we receive from day dot on how we are supposed to be, look, and act is what makes us move through the world feeling lesser than we should. Taking it back to practically Jane Austen times, our woefully low self-belief “is not created in a vacuum, it extends from the culture we live in,” says Florence Gillet, a certified eating psychology coach and founder of beyondbodyimage.com.
From the Western-construct of the perfect (slim, thin, toned, chiselled but not too contoured) body to a jumble of weight loss strategies, and the media’s painfully stereotypical portrayal of women (and men), “we tend to internalise them and integrate them as our personal beliefs,” adds Florence – which is why a lot of us are on diet #2683. The external pressure has imploded our internal system.
The undoing of cultural classifications is deeply-felt work. “Controlling our food, our bodies, our appearance, can sometimes work as a Band-Aid for untreated anxiety, for deeper trauma, emotional or relationship issues. Loving oneself might require deeper, more extensive mental health work than simply gluing body positive affirmations onto a bathroom mirror,” says Florence.
Patience and professional help to reach a state of body neutrality (and beyond) is far more effective than purchases like cosy candles and a Bublé soundtrack. As Cordelia says, “you’re the only person who can truly look after you”. By being “truly being present in the body by feeling all sensations and body parts, being grateful for what the body does, experiencing its movements, feelings, abilities, pleasure and emotions in a non-judgemental way”, adds Florence.
We also have to consciously make different language choices when we speak of ourselves. Instead of “I am such an idiot for doing this. How can I be so stupid?” you could rephrase it as “I am taking steps to be more accepting and kind to myself. It will take time but I am trusting this process,” notes Florence.
Part of Cordelia’s work with Pearlescence focuses on self-improvement. Her upcoming I Am Enough retreat in March helps women to stop berating themselves with cruel self- talk, radically changing behaviour so that self-sabotage is a thing of the past and setting smart goals for prosperity – all in an effort to finally accept and love ourselves.
Look for that basic human connection with yourself first before you dive into desperate measures to be chosen by someone else. “For only when we are truly aligned with our own beautiful and unique spirit, can we completely and authentically give and receive real love,” says Cordelia.
For more information on how to amp up your self-love visit: beyondbodyimage.com and eventbrite.co.uk/e/i-am-not-an-apology- self-care-self-love-self-talk
Images: Photography: Mox Santos, Styling And Creative: Natalie Westernoff, Model: Edyta @ Mmg Models; Hair Stylist And Make-Up: Ania Ponatowska @ Mmg Artists; Hair And Make-Up Assistant: Alexandra Apreutesei; Photo Assistant: Jet Soliman; Fashion Assistant: Haneen Bader, From Emirates Woman February 2019 Issue