Do you love your body? Are you one of the 4% of people around the world who would describe themselves as beautiful?

In this culture of perfectionism it can feel impossible to measure up, contributing to rising rates of depression and suicide. But what if you had the power to become the happiest, healthiest most fulfilled version of yourself? My guest today has confidence that you do.

Harriet Waley-Cohen, believes in life-changing transformations, and envisions a world in which women and girls know that they and their bodies are ALWAYS good enough.

In today’s interview she talks about acceptance; how to love your body the way it is; screening your media like crazy; focusing on gratitude for what your body does for you, and getting on your own side.

But if there was only one question she says, that anybody ever needs, it would be: ‘what would love do?’

Show Notes

[01.01] Harriet talks about getting onto this path and how she changed her relationship with herself.

[02.12] How YOU can heal your relationship with yourself, and love your body the way it is.

[04.37] With all the physical knocks her body has taken, Harriet discusses learning to love yourself, and how to keep doing it.

[08.14] How to stop the inner critic.

[12.34] Starting a conversation with your body.

[15.28] How Harriet’s experiences have impacted the way she relates to the people she is helping to transform.

[16.53] Moving from a dysfunctional view of your body, to getting okay with yourself.

[17.35} If the ‘big vision’ to love your body feels out of the question, focusing on moment to moment, tiny shifts make anything feel possible.

[18.45] What happens when you mess up, and how to prepare for it.

[24.10] Young kids, social media and reality vs. the photoshopped ideal, and whether access to all this information makes for a more balanced view. (Spoiler: It doesn’t!)

Learn more about Harriet

  • To do the quiz on how your behaviour might be affecting your self esteem, go to her website:
  • If you’re a fan of social media, join Harriet’s Inner Circle on Facebook, where you can get access to special offers, launches and free videos.

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If you want to get my free download on how to make change stick!

Related posts and episodes

Quotes from this episode

“When you try to fight with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time” – Harriet Waley-Cohen

“Less than 5% of women naturally have the body that the media portrays as ideal” – Harriet Waley-Cohen

“Building a relationship with your body is kind of like building a relationship with anybody – it means showing up consistently with love and kindness. And it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.” – Harriet Waley-Cohen

“Self-esteem is actually an action rather than a state of mind” – Harriet Waley-Cohen

“There’s a theory called The Active Learning Cycle, and for many of us we’re just in ‘do, shift, do, shift, do, shift’ and we never do the ‘do, reflect, then shift your behaviour, then do again’ and we miss out on that reflection point because our brains can’t chill” – Lisa Linfield


Lisa Linfield: 00:21 Hello everybody and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. I’m joined by an amazing human, Harriet Waley-Cohen, and she is an award winning speaker and coach. She has literally just won two out of five of the awards in a U.K. speaking competition. And she is highly acclaimed for the work that she does. Her vision is a world in which women and girls know that they and their bodies are always good enough, where women learn to love and accept themselves as perfect beings. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Harriet W.: 00:57 You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Lisa Linfield: 01:00 So how on earth did you get on this path?
Harriet W.: 01:05 Good. Nice. Now that’s a big question. So probably the big reason that I feel so determined that I do not want there to be any women out there who don’t think that they or their bodies aren’t good enough is because that was my journey. And it almost killed me actually in my 20s. And I’ve been on a long journey the last 17 years of changing that relationship and learning how to really love myself as I am, flaws and all, not need validation from anybody else to feel good about myself. And also to see the difference that when you feel that way, the difference that makes in your entire life, the different way that you show up. And a big part of my journey has been around healing my relationship with my body and how I feel about my body. And I don’t think that self-esteem and your relationship with your body can be separated. I think they’re completely intertwined for everybody. And obviously I’m not a man, I don’t fully understand how this works for men, but I deeply understand how it works for women.
Lisa Linfield: 02:12 So how do you heal your relationship with your body? How do you learn to actually love what you’ve been given?
Harriet W.: 02:19 I could probably talk for a whole year on that. So I’m going to try and give it in a nutshell. I think that a big part of it is accepting, accepting that your body is the way that it is. It works the way that it works. It looks the way that it looks, because when you try to fight with reality, you lose, but only a hundred percent of the time. And so fighting against reality is firstly a losing game. And secondly, it just takes up so much energy and it means that you’re constantly sending a message to yourself that you’re not good enough. So acceptance and also then working on forgiveness, forgiving yourself for how you might have felt in the past. And in terms of that, there’s a lot of reasons why people feel that their bodies aren’t good enough. And it could be because you were teased at school or bullied. It could be because you look a certain way.
Harriet W.: 03:12 You may have disabilities that are visible or invisible. Injuries, illnesses, all kinds of things that you’ve made them mean that you’re not good enough. And it’s not just that, it’s also the media I think has a huge amounts going for this because less than 5% of women naturally have the body that the media portrays as ideal. And the latest big global survey of millions of women showed that only 4% of women around the world will describe themselves as beautiful.
Lisa Linfield: 03:42 Wow.
Harriet W.: 03:42 So I think rejecting the media and screening your media like crazy is really important and taking responsibility for that and saying, “You know what? I reject this. I reject the beach-body ready culture. I reject the,” whatever industries that you need to reject and drop into a space of real love and then building a relationship with your body. It’s kind of like building a relationship with anybody. It means showing up consistently with love and kindness, and it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. It’s just saying, “Okay, if I want to have a beautiful kind relationship with my body, then I must act in a kind way consistently towards my body. I must dress with kindness, eat with kindness, move with kindness, do everything like I love myself.” And then your body will go, “Oh, maybe this is someone I can trust. This is someone I can have a relationship with.”
Lisa Linfield: 04:37 So how did you do it for yourself, and how do you keep doing it? Because it’s easy to change things when things are good, but it’s hard when things get bad.
Harriet W.: 04:47 Do you know what? I actually found it to be the opposite. I think the times when I was probably at my healthiest were the times when I was probably thinking, “Well, I could shave a few more pounds off. I could do this, I could do that.” Whereas the times in the last three and a half years, I’ve really been through it with my physical health. I’ve actually found it the easiest to love myself, which is kind of curious. So three and a half years ago, somebody drove into my car on the motorway and left me with severe head and neck injuries. And a whole host of other things. I’m now left with permanent pain condition in my head and neck and it affects how I function in every area of life. And it affects my mental health as well. Because you know when you’re in constant pain and you’re tired and can’t do the things you want to do and it’s kind of been thrust upon you when you were minding your own business, it’s a big deal.
Harriet W.: 05:37 Yet it taught me the importance of taking care of myself above all else and listening to my body because when I don’t listen to what my body needs, it just gives up and goes, “Okay well we’re going to crank the pain up now because you’re pushing it too much.” And then you can’t function at all. “So listen to me or I shall confine you to bed, and then nothing will get done.” So it’s produced this background of deep connection, dialogue, honoring, really saying what kind of food do you need right now to help you function? What do you need? And if my body says, “Go to bed,” then that’s what I need to do. And then just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. And there followed an awful lot of very horrible traumatic tests. And it was a month or so when the news just kept getting worse and worse and worse. And I was like, “Oh my God, what’s going to happen?” You just don’t know what’s going to happen.
Harriet W.: 06:31 And I had to go through some very deep healing in terms of listening to what my body needed to tell me about the illness and really asking and saying, “What do you need to say before I have the surgery, before parts of you are gone forever. What do you need me to hear? What do I need to learn? What do I need to do differently?” And I was guided by an amazing coach of mine to do that. And then to get through the surgery have my body permanently altered. I had a mastectomy and reconstruction using my tummy. So as well as having a completely different sort of breast on one side now, I have a hip to hip scar and they moved my belly button. And all kinds of stuff. And curiously, and I’m now heavier than I’ve ever been, apart from when I was pregnant with my boys. I can’t exercise the way I’d like to. There’s just so much stuff. Who knew that this is what being in my 40s was going to be like. If you told me this five years ago, I would have thought, you kidding me? Like really?
Harriet W.: 07:30 But I could not adore and appreciate and love my body more now than I ever have done. And I think the key word there is appreciate. It’s all about focus. You can focus on all the ways in which your body’s not perfect, all the ways in which your bum looks a bit too big in this or your skin doesn’t look quite right or whatever it is you want to focus on. Or you can put your focus on gratitude for what your body does for you. Now my legs carrying me about, they helped me to drive, my hands allow me to cuddle my children and my dog and cook them amazing food and blah, blah, blah. Focusing on gratitude and appreciation for what your body does rather than giving yourself a hard time for it’s minor perceived flaws in appearance is a huge shift.
Lisa Linfield: 08:15 So how do you stop that inner critic? I look at you and I think, “Wow, she’s gorgeous. It’s okay for her, but I’m not quite that person.” How does one stop that inner critic?
Harriet W.: 08:26 I think awareness is the first step. Everyone has an inner critic. Even some of the most famous successful people in the world, and even some of the most gorgeous people in the world, supermodels have a body and a critic. None of them are happy with their bodies. They’re like, “Oh my hair’s too thin. My bum is too flat.” Some of us would kill for some of those problems but hey. First of all, it’s about accepting that we all have it. And it’s what you do about it that matters. And knowing that it’s just thoughts that go through your head and questioning them and going, “Well, is it true?” And not only that, whether or not it’s true, is this something that I want? Is this a belief I want to create for myself or would I rather just discard it? And sometimes I say to people to give that inner critic a different voice.
Harriet W.: 09:14 It could be the voice of a screaming toddler. It could be the voice of a street drunk who’s screaming at you from the bus stop as you walk past, “Your bum looks big in that. Have you seen the state of you?” And you would never believe those people. You can give it the voice of … There’s a few quite controversial, hated or loved celebrities over here. You can give it the voice of anyone who you have zero respect for. I’m not going to start naming famous people. Polarize opinion, but you get my general drift. And then when it’s that voice, you can just go, “Well duh, I would never believe them. So why am I believing it just because it’s a thought that’s wandered through my head.”
Lisa Linfield: 09:53 It’s amazing you say that because in actual fact, I has talking to someone about it yesterday and their friend has named the angry person in her and has given it this name and suddenly it puts a whole different perspective. So let’s call it Cruella. “Oh my goodness, Cruella came to visit today.” And then you immediately do this concept. I always put it in the context of if anyone spoke to my daughter.
Harriet W.: 10:16 Yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 10:16 The way I speak to myself, I’d smack them six love. It’s just like you cannot do that.
Harriet W.: 10:23 No, but we do, don’t we? The things that we say to ourselves we would never say to somebody that we truly loved. Or even probably to somebody that we really hated, we wouldn’t say that to them. Yet for some reason we think it’s okay to do that. I always say that self-esteem is actually an action rather than a state of mind. It’s kind of like if you were looking after a small child or you think about your own daughter, you wouldn’t go around saying to her, “I love you. I think you’re amazing.” And saying all the right words. And then say, “Well I think you look a bit fat today and actually the number on the scales was a bit higher than I would have liked. So I think we should wear some old baggy clothes today. Just keep your body hidden and don’t speak up much because everyone will notice you and that you’re a bit fat today. And actually I’ll tell you what, skip lunch because that will help you to lose the weight again and maybe just live off a double espresso.” I mean this is reality, right?
Harriet W.: 11:18 This is what we put ourselves through yet we would never do that to somebody that we really love. And the effect you can see immediately is that that child would never trust you, because your actions don’t match up with your words. So you can’t go around telling your body or yourself that you love yourself if your actions towards yourself are unkind or even abusive. Which is why I think that by showing yourself, that’s where the relationship is built, like consistent, loving action and then your body and your heart go up. They start to breathe a sigh of relief and they know that they can trust you, which is amazing. And then they’ll start talking back. Your body will be able to … In the same way that I was able to have that deeply powerful dialogue actually with my breasts once I had the diagnosis, anyone can get to that point where you can have a two way dialogue and your body can tell you what it wants.
Harriet W.: 12:10 I always ask my body before I get dressed for an important event and sometimes I’ve really had it in my mind, I’m going to wear this certain thing. And then like, “No, no, no, no, no. This is a jeans kind of day.” And I’m like, “Okay.” And I listen and I go with it. And because of that, my body feels safe, which is really important. It feels loved. It feels like I’m the biggest cheerleader and it’s all good.
Lisa Linfield: 12:34 How do you start a conversation with your body?
Harriet W.: 12:37 I think you start with, “Hello.” Well, one of the exercises actually, and I gave a retreat just over a week ago, it was a one day weekend retreat on how to love your body no matter what. And I taught everybody this exercise, which is around connection and appreciation. So you start with massaging your body and you can start with your hand. It’s a really simple place to start, but you would want to do your whole body at least once a week where you become fully present. You do this after you’ve got out of the shower or whatever and get some nice body lotion or oil and just take time to massage each part of your body and be present with it, with your eyes, with your heart and say hello and say thank you and think about what that body part does for you. So what are all the things that your hand does for you? All that typing, all that tidying up, all that hugging or driving. All the things that that hand does and really be present.
Harriet W.: 13:33 And when your body feels seen and heard and respected, then it feels safe to have that conversation back with you. It’s about reaching that place of real stillness and perhaps once you’ve reached that point of connection saying, “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?” And it might just be a feeling. It might be the words come to you. I can’t really explain it more than that.
Lisa Linfield: 13:54 Yeah, I mean one of the ways that I find based when I’m in a situation where I can’t see the way forward or whatever the situation is. Is that I actually write it down. So I’d write down where is it that it hurts you most? And then I write the answers that I think it would.
Harriet W.: 14:08 Ah, I love that.
Lisa Linfield: 14:12 And for me it’s better just to write it down. And that’s what amazes me is that it’s almost like something takes over your pen. And answers just flown and flow. And in the beginning it’s quite stilted and the handwriting is more, let’s put inverted commas, perfect. And then towards the end it’s just like I can’t write fast enough and whether that be on a life decision, a body decision, any decision. If you ask writing question form, then that answer starts to come. General kind of stuff.
Harriet W.: 14:40 I love that. I love to journal. I get a lot of wisdom from journaling and I think with journaling as well you get to clear away some of the crap first that allows you to get to that inner wisdom. I do think maybe just clearing away the chapter first really helps with being present and being able to hear a thing.
Lisa Linfield: 14:59 Absolutely. And there’s a theory called the Active Learning Cycle and for many of us we’re just in do shift, do shift, do shift, and we never do the do reflect then shift your behavior then do again. And we miss out that reflection point because our brains can’t chill really. And that writing process for me always helps the reflection process for those of us whose brains are a little all over the place.
Harriet W.: 15:26 Yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 15:27 So not only do you speak about this, but you also coach people on how to transform themselves. And you’re writing this book and you’re doing these retreats, you’re coaching these people, but yet you’re going through breast cancer or through a car crash. How does it impact the way you relate to the people?
Harriet W.: 15:45 Wow. I mean, first of all, I did take time out not just power … Last year I let all my clients know as soon as I knew when my surgery would be and what the recovery time was. I just said, “Right, okay, from my two weeks before my surgery, I’m unavailable and I will not be available for three months.” And that was fine. And I let people know online and I sent a newsletter the night before my surgery saying, “I’ve been really quiet for a while and topline level, this is why.” But I think in terms of how I relate to people, it’s given me a lot of compassion and it’s also given me a sense of, “Well if I can get through this, then I can help you get through that.” And I think it makes me much more relatable. Not that my previous story that I hinted out at the beginning of the early part of my life, I went through addiction and almost died in my 20s.
Harriet W.: 16:37 And having left unhealthy relationships and all that kind of thing and being a single mother. It all makes you relatable but it gives you extra wisdom as you go along. There’s more stuff that you learn just by going through those experiences. I think it gives you more to share as well.
Lisa Linfield: 16:53 For those of us that are probably slightly dysfunctional about the way we look at ourselves, what would you say to us trying to get to the stage of being more okay with ourselves?
Harriet W.: 17:06 There’s only one question that anybody ever needs, which is what would love do? What would love say? What would love have you wear? What would love have you eat. Under any circumstances, it’s just simply about shifting out of the ego, which says, “You should be doing this, you must this. You’re not good enough that.” And just dropping into that heart centered space of love and if your motive is always loving, you can’t really go wrong.
Lisa Linfield: 17:35 And is it about having a big vision of this future of you loving your body or what is it from a day-to-day perspective?
Harriet W.: 17:43 Actually I think that that can be really scary, because if you’re in a place of real self-loathing, the idea that you might get to a place of adoring your body is a bit like being told that tomorrow you will be having breakfast on the main while speaking Chinese. It’s like, “That’s completely impossible.” So I think this is about tiny, tiny, like single grain of sand almost shifts at a time and not saying, “Okay, for the whole rest of my life I’m going to do this thing.” You could say, “Okay, just this morning, just for this one day I’m going to listen to what my body wants to wear and honor that, and just for breakfast I’m going to have something really loving and just for this next whatever, I’m going to act in this certain way.” Because when you break it down to the present moment rather than the whole of forever, anything’s possible. And so I think in that way, yes it’s great to have a big vision, but if that big vision just feels so impossible, then sometimes it’s easier just to start really small.
Lisa Linfield: 18:45 And what happens when you mess up?
Harriet W.: 18:48 Because we do mess up, don’t we?
Lisa Linfield: 18:49 We definitely do.
Harriet W.: 18:52 There’s times when I know that the loving thing might be broccoli and I’m like, “Yeah.” But I know for me anger is one of my triggers, actually it is my big trigger for emotional eating. If I’m really feeling cross about something, I can find myself like opening and shutting snack cupboard all morning long. Again, I think the answer is love. It’s not to give yourself a hard time and definitely not to throw the whole thing out of the window. We all have times when we mess up. Kind of like when you’re parenting. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, when you snapped at one of your children or you’ve got something wrong, you just say, “You know what, I got that wrong. I’m really sorry it was the best I could do at that time, but that wasn’t great, was it?” And you can do that with your body.
Harriet W.: 19:32 You can say, “I’m really sorry that I was so angry. And because of that I stuffed down that great big bag of potato crisps and then all that chocolate and then blah, blah, blah. And you didn’t have dinner. I’m so sorry. That was the best I could do in that moment. But I’m going to really try not to do that again. And how are you doing?” And just continue the conversation. But again, just not give yourself a hard time. Because actually when we mess up, it’s generally because we’re doing our best, and our best at that moment is different from what it would be at other times. And actually sometimes it’s not actually that we’ve messed up, we’ve just survived something difficult.
Lisa Linfield: 20:09 Absolutely. But I find with myself, I’m fine in the early parts of the day, but towards the end of the evening, anything goes.
Harriet W.: 20:17 Such a dangerous time, isn’t it? Oh my God. [inaudible 00:20:20] dinner time. And like you’re tired and you’ve had a long day and there’s still quite a few hours to go. And it’s so easy, isn’t it?
Lisa Linfield: 20:30 Absolutely. Is there a way that we can prepare ourselves for those times?
Harriet W.: 20:36 I think so. I think so, because obviously the fact that you and I are talking about it and that we’re relating, clearly I think it means that there’s probably thousands, millions of other mothers who were running their own businesses or even just holding down a job who feel exactly the same way. So therefore it must be possible to predict that this is going to happen. Because we’re all relating to it, and I think it’s about what you have to hand because whatever’s easiest is what you’ll grab. Now for those moments, because I do actually have chocolate based emergencies. I have a really big glass jar in my fridge and it has really good quality, dark chocolate cooking drops, the kind that you would put in chocolate chip cookies or something if you were baking.
Harriet W.: 21:21 But because they’re there, if I just like, “I need something to get me through or I just really want some chocolate.” I can have a couple of those. And they’re quite big ones. They’re not like the really tiny mean ones that don’t count. They’re the big chocolate buttony ones and they’re great and they’re really good quality and they genuinely are quite a treat as opposed to just reaching in and grabbing any old kid’s stuff. I think being prepared is half of it and maybe just saying, “You know what, that time a day I find it hard. I get tired, I want snacks, maybe I need extra hydration,” and just going, “Okay, this is how it is, so how can we make this work?” Rather than giving yourself a hard time for it and wanting to deny yourself anything. It’s about just getting on your own side really.
Lisa Linfield: 22:05 What amazes me is that to many people, talking to your body in a way of love actually sounds quite woo-woo … Like, “Hey sure, I’m going to love my body.” All of that stuff. But the reality about it is that we talk to ourselves about everything all the time anyway. We just don’t acknowledge the millions of thoughts that we’re having as a conversation we’re having with our body or with ourselves in a way that we can actually embrace the fact that there is an alternative conversation. I think I would say a million things to my body in any one day if I think about it or I become aware or conscious about it. And I don’t even know what I’m saying because I kind of just get through the day and survive through the day. Whereas if I was to be more conscious, I would realize that in actual fact I am already having the conversation, so why not change it to a different conversation in my head?
Harriet W.: 22:59 Yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 22:59 It’s a really difficult thing for any of us who have been brought up for so long to think that unless you are Photoshop perfect, it’s not actually possible to survive in this world.
Harriet W.: 23:12 Yeah, it’s not the same isn’t it? And I know there’s a really good gang of celebrities now who refused to be Photoshopped. Who want people to see them as they are, who are openly talking about their stretch marks and their crows feet and their imperfections and their mommy tummies and all this kind of stuff. But the media is still so shaming, isn’t it? You see pictures of them going, “Look how tired so and so looks.” And it’s like, “Yeah, they had a baby six weeks ago. They are actually allowed to look completely exhausted, utterly frazzled. Like they haven’t seen a hairbrush in a week and kind of overweight, because that’s what new mothers looked like.” Instead of going, “Isn’t it amazing? They made it to a coffee shop for the first time.”
Harriet W.: 23:52 Which we would be saying to a good friend, “Yay, you made it, you got out the door.” There’s the press for these poor celebrities and people in the public eye just constantly giving them a hard time. Yeah. And then it feeds through to ordinary women who think, “Gosh I’ve got to constantly have it all together.” Which is such a shame.
Lisa Linfield: 24:10 Do you think the younger kids are better with it now because they have these apps that can Photoshop themselves the way magazines do. Do you think they’re better at being more realistic than all of us were in the days where you thought it was real that Cindy Crawford looked the way she did because you didn’t really know about Photoshop. Are they much more balanced or is this Instagram social media thing causing them to have more issues than our generation?
Harriet W.: 24:40 I actually think it’s a lot worse, because for us, we would have to go to a shop, buy the magazines, sit there with all our friends going, “Oh my God, look how gorgeous Cindy Crawford is.” But it wasn’t everywhere and there’s so much data, so many big studies showing the link between how long children are on social media and their mental health levels of depression and anxiety are rising so fast and eating disorders, rising suicide rates, all these kinds of things. And they all linked to this constant pressure to look a certain way, be a certain way, achieve a certain way. I’ve been giving a series of talks actually for about 18 months on stuff connected to this around the toxicity of perfectionism. And there was a really good study that was done that showed not only was the more toxic side of perfectionism increasing quite rapidly in young people, but it was directly correlated mental health problems and eating disorders and all these kinds of things.
Harriet W.: 25:35 And they pinpointed a number of pressures within society that contribute to this. Obviously media and social media and I call that the compare and despair culture. And I think what a lot of people do as well, because you compare on your insights and what’s going on in your life to your friends or famous people who’s outside. And it’s really looking at their Instagram is like their Photoshopped, marketed, filtered highlights rail. It’s like impossible to ever measure up, isn’t it?
Lisa Linfield: 26:02 Yeah.
Harriet W.: 26:03 So that’s up with them. And then one of the other things they pinpointed was the measurement culture where just the frequency with which young people are measured as they go through school and the early part of their careers and the importance that’s placed on the outcome of each test and measurement. Like, “You’ve got to do better, you’ve got to be better.” At no point is anyone ever told, “This is enough.” And then you join the workforce and you’ve got weekly goals, monthly this, quarterly assessment, annual appraisal. It’s like never ending. There’s never a time whenever one goes, “You’re doing great. Just keep doing what you’re doing.” Ever. It’s always, “You’ve got to keep going.” It’s almost like we’re apps now that have to be upgraded to version 3.8.4 because otherwise we’re going to get left behind.
Harriet W.: 26:46 And then the other thing, which is kind of a scary thing to say is capitalism, and this came out in the research that this focus on the external and on possession and wealth and image rather than how kind are you, what kind of contribution are you making to society? Are you living sustainably rather than those sorts of things being seen as important. It’s like, “Well how designer is your handbag, how big is your car?” All this kind of stuff. And that just pushes people to want to achieve more and more and to think, “Unless I have this thing, look this way, achieve this thing, then I’m not good enough and I’m not keeping up.” So honestly, I think that the younger generation have it much worse right now. I think we’re going to see a backlash. I think we’re starting to see the beginning of the backlash and maybe in another 10 years time we’ll all be rejecting these things that have revolutionized the world.
Harriet W.: 27:41 I don’t know. I don’t really know what direction it’s going to go in, but I think we’re really starting to get to grips now with a lot of good scientific studies that are showing quite how harmful all of this stuff is.
Lisa Linfield: 27:52 I think one of the things that really struck me was that whole thing of you compare what’s going on inside your head to the Photoshopped outside of something else. Even what’s going on in my head compared to my professional Photoshopped pictures of myself. And I think you’re absolutely correct, because you’re sitting here and you think, “Well, my life is such a mess.” And then you look at everyone else’s life that looks perfect, but in actual fact, if I even look at the Photoshop picture of me compared to what I look like today, there’s a wide gap between that in itself.
Harriet W.: 28:21 We were talking about this weren’t we? We were laughing before you hit record because both of our profile pictures, we look really glamorous. We’re in a photographic studio, we’ve got makeup on, all this kind of stuff and actually both of us are like working moms who are juggling this, that and the other. I’ve come straight from Pilates. You came from a swimming gala and like we do not right now look our super studio pictures. Not to say that we’re not gorgeous, but actually that’s not what we always look like on a day-to-day basis.
Lisa Linfield: 28:52 But it was so interesting when I had my photographs done. Afterwards, I made a commitment to myself that at least by the age of 15 but if not before if my children are wobbling in self-image, I would pay the money to go and have my three girls have a professional photo shoot. Why? Because I have always struggled with low self-image when it came to prettiness. I was a very overweight teenager and I had unbelievable acne. And so I have a very low self-body image. But when I look at these professional photographs of myself, I think, “Oh my goodness, even she, even she could be on the front of a magazine cover.” And I think it’s so important that I will do it for my girls to see that there is this gap as you put it between what our inside view of ourselves and what our outside could be view of ourselves that’s Photoshopped. So why on earth trust the pictures that you see for anybody else.
Harriet W.: 29:51 Exactly. And even it can just go down to seeing pictures of your friends constantly. You might see a picture of some friends and they’re out and it’s Sunday and they’ve gone for brunch with their partner and their kids and everyone’s smiling and it’s like, “Wow, look at their family, they’ve really got it together on a Sunday.” But what you don’t see is that they’ve gone out for brunch because the house is a complete state. And the wife forgot to do the food shopping because she was so tired and [inaudible 00:30:14] from juggling work and family and the husband’s had a really bad week. So he’s been shouting at them all weekend and the kids are like just getting over the flu and they’re all knackered. So they’ve gone out for Sunday brunch and for one moment they’ve all done a beautiful smile and then they’ve popped it up going, “Yeah, look at us.” But you don’t get the backstory.
Lisa Linfield: 30:33 No you don’t. And I always think that one should assume there’s a backstory because for all of us, what you’ve described is more real than the perfect family.
Harriet W.: 30:41 Exactly. I mean, I was giving this talk on the toxicity of perfectionism in a big bank. Actually, funny enough, it was the investment firm where I first started my career as a graduate. So it was really fun to go back. And when I was talking about the toxicity of perfectionism, I said, “I just want you to know that my kitchen’s a mess right now. And that there’s laundry that needs doing and there’s clean laundry that has not been folded for at least a week now.” And they all started laughing like everyone can identify with this stuff.
Lisa Linfield: 31:10 Yeah. So how do people learn more about the work you do? How do they follow you? How do they get hold of this amazing inspiration that is you.
Harriet W.: 31:21 Wow. Okay. So there’s a couple of ways that people can do that. So my websites, which is just my full name, without the hyphen in my surname. And it’s actually a quiz on there that people can do that will help them get an insight into how their behavior might be affecting their self-esteem. So that’s completely free. So if they want to do that, then that’s a good thing to do. And they can read about me. But I think actually one of the most fun places to stay in touch with me is inside my completely free Facebook group, which is called Harriet’s Inner Circle. I was obviously not feeling very imaginative that day when I named it. But anyway, and that’s where I put free videos and special offers and that’s where all my launches happen first. And people get preference for all sorts of stuff. So if people really love social media, then they can hop into that group. Otherwise just come say hi on my website basically, and do the quiz or even do both. Why not?
Lisa Linfield: 32:17 Why not? Well it was so wonderful. Thank you for your wisdom and I think the work you’re doing is priceless. So I really encourage and cheer you on and we are so grateful to have had you today. Thank you so much.
Harriet W.: 32:28 Thanks so much, Lisa. It’s been a pleasure.
Lisa Linfield: 32:31 That was Harriet Waley-Cohen and I just loved her insight about that gap between ourselves as we see ourselves from the inside and those perfect pictures on social media from the outside. And the realization that even those people who post those perfect pictures that we look at have that gap in themselves as I do between myself and my professional photos. So for each one of us, I think the most important thing is that we be gentle on ourselves and we be kind to ourselves and we do not give in to that inner critic that looks at that gap and uses it as a way to beat ourselves up.
Lisa Linfield: 33:13 And for those of you wanting to make big changes in your life, I truly recommend that you download the free eBook. Why? Because I’m learning from all these amazing people I carry, that I interview every single week to find out ways to make my life and yours a lot better in terms of the changes we want to make, the mindsets we need to have to ensure that we live our best lives. So go to and get that download. Have a great week everybody, take care. I’m Lisa Linfield and this is Working Women’s Wealth.