Interview: Gala Darling On Radical Self Love

by Catriona Beck

Gala Darling is the author and creator of the worldwide movement, Radical Self Love. She is not only inspiring but also extremely successful. Radical Self Love is simple: teaching women how to love themselves. Talking to Gala immediately brought a burst of colour to our day and it’s clear to see how she has motivated so many women to change their lives and the way they think. We spoke to Gala about what exciting things she has planned for 2017, New York and, of course, everything you need to know about radical self love.

“We need women to be at the front of a resistance: dancing on tabletops and being excited about life. We need people to smack depression in the face.”

Taylor Magazine: Hey Gala! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Gala Darling: Hey! I’m Gala Darling – I’m originally from New Zealand but I’ve been living in New York for the past nine years. I’ve been teaching women about ‘radical self love’ and how to have more confidence, creating the life I have always wanted for the past ten years. I started this because I had terrible depression as well as an eating disorder when I was a teenager and in my early twenties. I desperately wanted to be creative but didn’t have the confidence to go for it. Now I’m on the other side of that, I can see what a massive hindrance it was – I really want to help women as much as I can so they’re not in the same situation I was.

Taylor Magazine: Nine years in NYC – that’s so long!

Gala Darling: I know, it’s crazy! I still feel like I got here yesterday.

Taylor Magazine: It must be the kind of city where you see something exciting every day?

Gala Darling: Absolutely. I’m a writer and so I’m in my apartment a lot and obviously writing is a very solitary thing, but every time you leave the house there are always options and opportunities. One of the reasons I love New York so much is because it feels like anything could happen at any moment.

Taylor Magazine: You’ve written a book which was a real success and now you’re writing your second one…

Gala Darling: My second book is more about the nature of personal transformation alongside magic and how those things fit together. I have always been somebody that believes in doing rituals and practiced this for a long time, but last year all of a sudden my belief in this fell out the bottom of my life. That was very confusing for me.

Since then, I’ve been re-approaching magic and rituals with a bit more of an objective viewpoint. I’m very interested in the ways in which transformation actually occurs – I think a lot of people are going through a spiritual by-pass right now. Maybe they think that because they’re meditating or doing yoga, they’re doing the right thing in terms of working on themselves: growing; transforming. But that’s not actually the whole thing – you need to be marrying your metaphysical practices and your spiritual practices with stuff that keeps you grounded in the real world.

Taylor Magazine: We’re obsessed with inspiring women at Taylor Magazine – women who are ambitious and driven. Who or what is your inspiration?

Gala Darling: I have mostly been inspired by the changes in my own life. I’m not an exceptional person – I’m just a girl from New Zealand. But I thought, if I can transform my life then other women can as well.

“In terms of inspiration to write, I’ve always been a writer.”

The first self-help book that I picked up was by Sark (that stands for Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy by the way!) She is a fantastic woman whose books are hand drawn with watercolours – all of them are so colourful and they’re about living a more succulent life. I loved them because they were really fun and made changing your life inspiring and exciting, as opposed to something embarrassing or feeling as if you were flawed. It made it seem like a fun project, as opposed to, ‘Oh god, I hate my life.’

Gala Darling

Gala Darling | Photo by Assassynation

Taylor Magazine: It sounds as if the crucial change is not seeing depression as a problem. We can understand how women are so inspired by you, as you have an open and colourful outlook on it. That must be one of the only things you need when you’re in a dark place?

Gala Darling: I totally agree. When you’re in a dark spot, if you know someone that was there once before, you can see how they’ve managed to walk away from it or handle it differently. If they’re still driving their life forward, you realise that your life can still be good even though for you this is something that you may be prone to or have experienced in the past. It makes you feel like you can do the same thing and that’s so important. A lot of us, especially with depression or an eating disorder, think that it’s a life sentence. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Taylor Magazine: Other than writing your books and your blog, what else do you enjoy doing?

Gala Darling: Well, in my spare time, I love to hang out with groups of women and get groups of females together. That is so joyful to me. I was just at the women’s march two weekends ago. It was UNBELIEVABLE! It felt really good to bring all my friends together.

“Life without depression is like that moment when The Wizard Of Oz flicks from black and white to technicolour: everything has so much more beauty and meaning.”

Taylor Magazine: You have this quote on your website, which is so beautiful. What advice would you give to your younger self when you were going through this hard time?

Gala Darling: The primary piece of advice I would give to my younger self would be to just give happiness a chance. When you’re unhappy, your ego will tell you anything to keep you trapped in that place. Your ego wants you to be fearful, afraid and keep you small. My ego told me that if I was happy, I wouldn’t be interesting. That I wouldn’t be creative, that nobody would want to hang out with me, that happiness was boring and that only stupid people could be happy. Those were the beliefs that I had about happiness, which of course means you don’t even want to try because why would you want to be boring, have nothing to say and not be creative anymore?

I wish I had been able to say to myself, ‘Is that really true? I won’t be interesting or creative?’ In some cases sadness can make great art but if you’re so depressed you can barely get out of bed then you’re not creating anything. So, you have to be really real with yourself and ask yourself those hard questions. You have to stop berating yourself and being judgemental or disappointed – why not just be curious? Instead of waking up and feeling bad, why not ask yourself why you feel like shit? If you can just add that tiny twist to it, you can really uncover what is going on. If you don’t ask yourself the right questions, you will just be on that treadmill for a really long time.

“The primary piece of advice I would give to my younger self would be to just give happiness a chance.”

Taylor Magazine: A lot of people write about depression on Taylor Magazine because they feel like it’s a safe place to talk about their feelings. It’s important to open up and that’s the first step to recovery. What do you think is the best way for millennial females to deal with depression?

Gala Darling: Depression is a really serious issue. If we had better ways of dealing with it then women could be achieving at such a higher level than they already are. We need women to be at the front of a resistance: dance on tabletops and be excited about life. We need people to smack depression in the face.

The other thing about depression is that what you’re capable of feeling is so much more exaggerated. The depth of your emotion is magnified. A lot of people go around life and don’t feel a lot, just plodding along and very equilibrium. I’m sure that’s fine for some people, but I want the highs and the lows. I want to be ecstatic and then feel sad. I don’t want to just feel nothing all the time. I think depression and even to some extent, bipolar or borderline, can be a gift too. You can learn so much from these experiences – you have more empathy for other people and you are more sensitive. It doesn’t have to be a terrible burden, as long as you have strategies and techniques of dealing with it.

Taylor Magazine: So, what should we be looking out from you in 2017? What’s exciting about this year for you?

Gala Darling: My new book is very exciting! I also have this thing called ‘Radical Self-Love Coven’. You learn about how to do meta-physical concepts and put them into practice in your own lives. We’re going to marry it more with what is going on politically and socially at the moment. I also have a product called ‘Bad Witch Workout,’ which you can do at home with your eyeliner on! My boyfriend is a personal trainer so we have merged on this project. It’s about worshipping your body rather than punishing yourself for not looking the way you want. We’re expanding it a lot this year – it’s all very exciting!

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