During her time in the spotlight, TV personality and activist Katie Piper has served as an inspiration to people all over the country, so who could be better to speak to for our WISE WORDS interview series, where we speak to a host of stars from all walks of life about the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
With Katie currently taking part in Special K’s ‘Strength Is’ campaign, she revealed how she can find hope in times of darkness, how her Christian faith has helped her through difficult times, and the movement she wants to kickstart with her foundation.
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I suppose when I’m most relaxed is when I’m exercising, because that helps me relax my mind.
What do you do to do deal with negativity?
I try and read positive literature and positive quotes, to reinforce messages that I know I should be thinking and applying, and ignore the negative messages and opinions. A lot of the quotes I post on social media are things we already know – they’re not revolutionary ideas, they’re quotes that might be obvious, but sometimes we need reminding of them, to prompt us to look for the good in everything.
We dictate our own moods, so if you’re in a bad mood, you can make the people around you feel bad, and that makes for a bad atmosphere. So it’s good to fill your surroundings with good quotes – and live by them, too.
When and where are you happiest?
Definitely at home. In my house, door shut, away from the outside world, with just my husband and my daughter. It’s like a place where nothing matters, in terms of you can let yourself go and just be as you are.
What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m fortunate in that I’ve met a lot of strong, inspiring councillors throughout the past five or so years, and they’ve all given me individual pieces of advice.
But I suppose the overall message and lesson I’ve learned is to always have hope. Wherever there’s darkness, there has to be light, that’s just basic science. Sometimes you’re in situations where it feels like there’s no way out, so I always try and apply that – when there’s so much darkness, there has to be light.
What’s been the hardest lesson that you’ve had to learn?
The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is patience. Having lots of operations has probably taught me that, because you have to be patient with healing, recovery, new sciences coming out that could help you… you just have to wait. There’s no quick fix.
What advice would give to your 13-year-old self?
Stop talking at school and just listen! I had to go and visit France a couple of years ago, and I wished then that I’d listened at school in French lessons. All I knew was how to say ‘Johnny likes to play in the garden’ and that was it. Although actually now that I’m a TV presenter I talk for a living, so in a way it was useful.
What three things are left on your to-do list?
I have a lot of goals and ambitions to do with my foundation. Some of those are kind of practical goals, about building a centre for burns survivors… but it’s also more about starting a movement for people with disfigurements and burns, and how they’re viewed as pathetic or as victims.
I want that movement to keep moving forward so they see that they can be CEOs, they can be leaders, they can be sexy and attractive too. Breaking that taboo – that’s a big ambition of mine.
What do you think happens when we die?
I totally believe in God and the whole concept of the Bible, so I think the body obviously physically dies, but the soul remains. So I don’t think you’re gone forever, you’re just gone from this life. I’m a Christian, so that’s what I believe.
When do you think that we’re in the presence of something greater than ourselves?
When I got married. I got married in a Christian service, in a church and I felt an overwhelming sense of it, but there are a lot of times in my life that I’ve had moments like that.
In hospitals, when I’ve had operations, I’ve felt it. My religious beliefs only started over the past seven or eight years, I wasn’t brought up like that, my parents aren’t religious, I’m the only one in the family.
What qualities do you bring to relationships?
I feel like for my family, I’m the organised, bossy one. I’m the one making everyone’s calendars and organising everyone’s diaries.
What keeps you grounded?
My work and my foundation. I’m in a position where I meet people every couple of weeks who’ve had awful things happen to them, and it reminds me that these things are happening all the time, so we can’t take anything for granted, and it puts things into perspective of what are real problems, and what actually aren’t.
What is the last act of kindness or good deed that you’ve received?
My phone battery completely died and my cab driver let me use his phone for conference calling, and he gave me like a notepad and pen, and I thought that was so sweet.
Enter Special K’s new ‘Strength Is’ campaign, which is inviting people to share their definitions of strength for the chance to see their tweet held up by Katie, Nicola Roberts or Lisa Faulkner on a digital billboard in London Waterloo.
Anyone can get involved by tweeting using the hashtag #StrengthIs.