Friday, March 12, 2010

Question # 20: Taking Responsibility & Being Real

KRYSTAL left a comment a couple of months months ago (sorry it's taken me so long to get to your questions, Krystal!) and I'm going to break them up up into 2 parts to respond. First:

"Thanks for your videos, Arielle. I am just now catching up on them (of course, after the holidays are over)! One thing I have been struggling with lately is a realization that I may really not be the nice person I always thought I was. People have always thought of me as a really nice person. I have been able to find numerous flaws in my personality, but whenever I have had a "mean" moment, I have written it off and blamed it on depression, ED, or whatever stress was going on at the moment. I have been pretty negative and downtrodden lately about my realization that maybe I am just not as nice of a person as I have always thought.

On the brighter side, I am going to take some of your advice from your video "Appreciating What You DO Have Instead of Trying to Change What You've Got". I am going to blog about some things I am thankful for, maybe every day if I can find the time to get on my blog. I am also going to look for some good quotes to frame - I loved those quotes in your bathroom - awesome!"

Okay - you've probably heard the saying "You are your own worst critic" before, but let me talk about that for a second. We can all find flaws in our personalities, and not one of us is perfect. We can strive for perfection, we can strive to be nice, but we may never live up to our expectations. If you are looking for flaws, you will find them. You can keep in mind that you are only human - without making excuses for yourself. You don't always have to be one extreme or the other. By that I mean, you don't have to either be a horrible person or a perfect one. It doesn't work that way. You are who you are and you will change in many ways as you grow as a person.

That said, a part of recovery is definitely taking responsibility for your actions. So if you think you've been making excuses for yourself based on depression, stress, or your eating disorder, perhaps you are. But it doesn't mean those things are not a factor in why you are not able to be as nice as you wish to be.

I think being honest with ourselves is a difficult thing at times. As you say,you're downtrodden lately about the realization you may not be as nice of a person as you originally thought. If this is a true assessment, I can imagine it's rough. But keep in mind that many things can alter one's perception, and one of those things is an eating disorder. Your very sense of self could be askew. The way you view yourself could be completely off. The best thing to do is examine your actions, thoughts, and feelings - and see where they lead you. If you can recognize that you are not feeling like a nice person for valid reasons, you will be better able to change that.

The best advice I can offer is akin to what you are already doing. The more positive reinforcement you have around you, the more positive you will become. Surround yourself with the right things, and you will see a change. You can help your mood, you can help your "niceness." So definitely frame some positive quotes - and put them where you can see them on a daily basis. Make that list of things you're thankful for - and while you're at it, make a list of all the positive attributes YOU possess.

Might be hard at first... but don't let it slide. Complete a list. And add to it as you think of more positive traits. We all have them. Dig for them.

Krystal continues:

"On another note, I have been struggling with the decision on whether to blog about ED stuff. I was bulimic for so long and it was such a big part of my life, but since I was mostly normal weight, not a lot of people knew about it unless I told them. A lot of the new people I know have no clue I ever struggled with ED. I feel like blogging about it sometimes, but don't know if it would change things between me and my newer friends, or make things weird between us. . . What has been your experience? Sorry if you have already blogged or done a video about this. If so, you can just direct me there. . .Thanks."

I think blogging can be very therapeutic. Whatever you want to disclose to the public is up to you. Do only what you feel comfortable doing. If you want, start out small and see how it feels. See what kind of feedback you get. You don't have to tell your whole story all at once. You don't even have to give a backstory if you'd rather not. You can simply write your thoughts, and if some of those thoughts happen to be eating disorder thoughts, put 'em in there.

Your blog is your space. No one can tell you what to write. But if you constantly feel you are censoring yourself, it doesn't make for as therapeutic an experience. You know? Furthermore, if you are refraining from putting some honest bits of yourself out there because you're worried about what other people will think, say, or do - you're giving in to something that will not help you. That mentality is only going to hurt you. That is no way to live your life.

My two cents: I'd rather have a friend who's being real than a friend who's not.

Can I promise you one of your new friends won't ask questions? No. Can I promise you one of them won't shy away and act strangely? No. But as you've probably been told many a time, if they are really your friends, they'll still be your friends when they know more of your story. Don't let fear back you up against a wall.

I have met and befriended a lot of people since I recovered. Do I start having full blown conversations about my disorder with them? No. But do I blog about it? Obviously, yes. I'm not ashamed. And if someone will think differently of me because of my past, that is on them, not on me. Go in with the right attitude and you will not be disappointed.

Best of luck!

Videos of mine from the last year or so you might find helpful:

Friendships & Eating Disorders: Gaining Perspective Part 1
Friendships & Eating Disorders: Gaining Perspective Part 2
Addressing Trust and Friendships
Perfection & Imperfection
Telling, Fielding, and Dealing
Learning to Like Yourself
Stop Pretending & Start Being Real


Krystal said...

Thanks Arielle so much for your honest feedback! I didn't mind waiting at all. Your answers were so thorough and in-depth. I feel very grateful and validated.

You are right - when I look back and honestly look at the times when I have been impatient or rude to someone, it's only been a handful of times and I guess that doesn't make me an absolutely horrible person. You are also right that when you look at yourself, you tend to be your worst critic. And it is true that I am really just worried about what "people will think".

I appreciate having your opinions on the blogging and friendships. I do have a lot of "surface" friendships - people who could truly be great friends and would be if I would open up and share a bit more. You are right - I do feel kind of phony when I start thinking about what I want to blog about and my eating disorder comes to mind, but instead I blog about an art project with my kids or something. Which isn't to say I wouldn't also blog about the other things - maybe my other posts would be more genuine as well if I could get out all my other thoughts first and be able to focus a bit more.

Again, I really appreciate these answers - they have made me really ponder a lot of things.

Just Be Real/God Whispers In The Wind said...

Arielle, thank you for sharing and taking the time to post this info. Blessings.