Sarah Rafferty Confesses What She Wishes She Knew Before Motherhood

“I don’t think I really have an understanding of what self-love means.”

photo credit: Marc Cartwright

An intimate conversation with Sarah Rafferty

When Sarah Rafferty walks into a room, it’s almost impossible not to hold your breath and stare. She’s absolutely beautiful. She struts into our interview with a fierce sense of confidence. I imagine Beyoncé to be this way, too.

But as I chat with the Suits star, it quickly becomes obvious that Rafferty and I have more in common than I would have believed. Although I’m a dorky magazine editor and she’s one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, in our conversation it was clear that we were both women who are too hard on ourselves, that we’re both struggling with self-esteem and are trying to figure out what self-love means to us.

On practicing self-care

“When I get stressed out or anxious, I usually need to exercise. I need that endorphin rush and to get outside in nature. That’s what helps me the most. It’s like going to church for me.

“I try to get enough sleep and not beat myself up for needing a nap. Sometimes I feel guilty when I want a nap. So this year I’m trying not to beat myself up for it.”

On learning new things

“I’m learning how to play the guitar. I want to learn something new to keep myself sharp, and also because my kids are learning how to play instruments. Plus, I want to show them it’s OK not to be perfect at something, that everything is a process and that we’re all works in progress.

“I really want to model that behaviour for them, because when I was growing up, I gave up on things like learning how to play instruments. Mostly because I thought I should be better at whatever I was trying to do.”

On the importance of self-love

“I don’t think I really have a real understanding of what self-love means. My anxiety about that is what leads me to review the resources that Dove has to offer. Because if I’m not sure if I’m on my game about self-love, how am I going to help teach my kids about self-love? I love knowing that those resources are out there so that we can learn together.

“For me, whether it’s self-esteem or self-care or self-love, it’s all a practice. It’s a skill that you’re never done learning. You might even take two steps forward and three steps back with all of these things, whether you’re eight or 10 or 30 or 60.

“It’s important to remind ourselves that we deserve to love ourselves in the same way we would love our friends and family.”

On re-framing negative self-talk

“One day I was being really self-deprecating, as I tend to be. And my friend, Gina Torres [from Suits], said in a light-hearted but firm way, ‘Hey, don’t talk about my friend in that way.’

“And that was amazing, because I didn’t realize I was talking negatively about myself. It’s just become a habit. So, what she said really made me realize that I should be more careful about how I talk [about] myself. I know not to speak that way in front of my kids, so why would I speak that way in [front of my] friends?

“I believe that being honest and telling my friends or sisters that I’m feeling insecure about something is a much healthier way to react than talking about myself negatively.

“It’s kind of scary how we’re willing to talk to ourselves; it can be really mean and abusive. When I find myself caught in the cycle of negative self-talk, I try to stop and think about something I’m grateful for. Shifting my focus on to something else really helps too, because negative self-talk is a rabbit hole.”

On motherhood and body image

“One thing that I think we can all do as moms is we got to give ourselves a pass. Motherhood is hard. As a mom, you have to go easy on yourself. I was so hard on myself when I first became a mom.

“One thing I learned from Dove’s Look How Far We’ve Come campaign is how to turn insecurity about your body into something you love about it. I mean, my tummy doesn’t look like it did before I had kids. It just doesn’t. But I would never, ever trade being a mom for anything. So, why would I spend time being bummed about my stretch marks and that my tummy looks different? I made two babies. That’s amazing.

“It’s just like learning how to embrace laugh lines — they are evidence we’ve laughed and lived. We should be happy we have something to show for all of the joy we’ve experienced.”