Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Questions for the Self

This week, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you most want to change? 

  • What do you think you could easily do differently...and what's stopping you? 

  • What does freedom mean to you? 

  • And what do you need to put into place to achieve it? 

  • Who are your supports? 

  • How can you utilize them more than you are currently? 
  • What are your most toxic elements in life? 

  • How can you better distance yourself from them? 

I really invite you to have a conversation with yourself, even write down your responses to form new goals and plans, and to envision a better year. Later on in the week, I will delve into these questions in more detail, but before they can be discussed, pondered, and used for reflection and re-framing, you first need to ask them. So start... and I will follow up with some food for thought. 

These questions were meant to be the topic of this week's Wednesday Warrior video, but due to some overwhelming time constraints, I haven't been able to film a video in time to have it up for Wednesday. You'll either get a video a few days late (hate to do that - I'm always on time!) or a detailed blog post on this topic (these important questions) by the weekend. Either way, don't pass them off as too general, too basic, or too silly. Far too often, we forget to ask ourselves the really important things, the things that shape recovery and LIFE.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What IS Motivational Speaking?

Motivation is the desire to do things. What those "things" are is up to you. A definition for motivation is:

the act or an instance of motivating,  or providing with a reason to act in a certain way

I like to think that I do both of those things - that Actively Arielle: A Voice with a Commitment and everything this site, the videos, Twitter, and beyond stand for is pure and simple motivation.  In any case, that is my goal. Motivational speaking, broken down, is very basic, guileless, honest, and pure. It is not some grandiose thing that sets someone apart from the rest of the world. 

To me, motivational speaking is about you. For you. 

As for the speaking aspect of the term motivational speaking, there are many different ways to speak. Through spoken word, through video, through typed words on a screen, through images and declarations of encouragement...

Actions speak. And then they motivate.

Which means... (that's right!)... YOU can motivate too. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your Life Raft

Today, I thought I'd bring back a little post I first wrote 4 years ago by plumping it up, by revisiting it, by remembering it.. Today, I spoke to a group of women about eating disorders. We got on the very broad topic of 'this world in which we live.' It's a difficult place for people...especially for women. We throw around these terms: "society," "the media," "the diet industry," etc. And none of these things cause eating disorders. Eating disorders are mental illnesses. Yet, there are a lot of things out there that perpetuate the idea that it's all about the way you look. That it's all about what you wear, what size you are, how much you weigh... That it's all about your appearance.

Well I have news for you: there is a lot more to you than that. A LOT. And I hear you - I know you're being told left and right that there isn't. So it's hard to know what to think. I get that. And that's why: Appreciating Yourself is Your Life Raft in the Waters of Criticism.

That was the title of my 4-year-old post.

It’s easy to get swept up in the swirl of the world. You go to school or work and you see and hear things that make you feel inadequate. There are a lot of things out there that influence us, whether we like it or not. And in a lot of ways, it can be a good thing. Many of us have friends with whom we have a great time, family about whom we love and care, and things we enjoy doing, watching, or reading. And that’s okay. 

But when you already feel a certain way and suddenly you can feel that something around you is pulling you to feel another way, you need to stop and think for a minute. A minute is all it takes. You’ve heard the advice: “Go with your first instinct.” Well, in this case, you usually should. If something you see or hear or read makes you second guess how you FEEL about yourself, it’s best to examine it. 

Don’t get me wrong—it’s great when we see or hear or read something that makes us question our thoughts or our knowledge about something. It’s good to be open to other opinions, possibilities, and viewpoints. We can learn a lot by paying attention to the world around us. Just don’t let something make you feel like less of a person if you didn’t feel that way before.

If your peers are telling you something negative (that you’re fat, ugly, etc.) or worse—if your friends (which is questionable to say the least) are saying things that make you feel bad about the way you look—don’t let them bring you down to a place where you want to change to please them. Working to please others or to make others like you is no way to live and is, frankly, a recipe for disaster. At the end of the day, all you have is YOU.

Not all criticism is constructive.

Appreciating yourself is your life raft in the waters of criticism.
For girls and women, especially, life can become a competition. You want to be pretty, you want to be smart, you want to be thin. You want to make sure you are as good as everyone around you. Sometimes it can feel hard to measure up. Sometimes the people you’re trying to measure up against TELL you that you aren’t good enough in some way. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not thin enough. Your clothes aren’t nice enough. Your job isn't good enough. Your grades aren't good enough.Your haircut isn’t cute enough. The list can be never-ending.

You’ll never be able to please everyone. And you’ll never be able to hold yourself above the water if you let other people pull you under. And drowning is a horrible way to die.

Really, it’s all about survival. You can’t let people--or things you see, hear, or read--get the better of you. If you read in a magazine that being a certain size makes you somehow less appealing to the world at large, but you felt okay about your size before you read it, listen to your first instinct—that you are fine the way you are. Don’t buy into the negative pull. If your friends, school peers, co-workers, and/or family say something that makes you feel negatively about yourself, just remember that what they say doesn’t determine what you are. And for everyone who says something that makes you feel bad, there may be just as many people who see you as great in a lot ways.

If you see an ad on TV and it makes you wonder if you should try to change yourself in some way, don’t let something you see for two minutes on TV influence you into thinking you’d be better off looking different. You have your own mind; use it.

Appreciating yourself is your life raft in the waters of criticism.

You write your own story. You can change anything you want or choose not to change. And you can add a new chapter whenever you feel like it. You don’t need something external telling you what and how to change. All throughout your life, people are going to offer their opinions whether you like it or not. Sometimes a person’s opinion will help you…and sometimes it will hurt you. It’s up to you to learn the difference. In fact, there are a lot of things out there in the world that can help us…and there are just as many things that can hinder us. A minute of thought can make a world of difference when it comes to deciding whether or not to think negatively about yourself.

When it comes right down to it, no one else anywhere is YOU. You are the only you. There’s no one out there like you. So you can’t go wrong looking the way you do. You can’t go wrong being what you are. You are you and that is the way you were meant to be. It’s okay and natural to feel unsure about the way you look sometimes, or to feel unsure about the things you think or do, but if you’re feeling good about yourself, don’t ever let anyone make you think differently. When you give in to a negative thought about yourself, you’re relinquishing a little piece of yourself. If you continue to do that, pretty soon you’ll have surrendered a lot of pieces. You’ll be weaker and more unsure than ever.

Appreciating yourself is your life raft in the waters of criticism.

It can get pretty difficult dealing with lots of things and people around you, especially if they are undermining your confidence in yourself. But you know what? It takes a very strong person to make it through and come out on top—to come out feeling okay. To come out knowing you are great just the way you are. To come out better because you know this.

Don’t give up on yourself. You have all the power.

How great is that?

YOU have all the power.
And you are beautiful - outside, inside, and everywhere in between. Just as you are.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eating Disorder Recovery: Confidence vs. Pride

This week, I'm happy to share a piece by Lauren Bersaglio over at Libero Network.

I love showing you that there are other positive recovery voices out there besides my own, so I asked Lauren if she'd write about CONFIDENCE and she delivered! In fact, her piece goes so perfectly with my Wednesday Warrior video for this week that I had to post it immediately.

Take it away, Lauren!


“A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”*

Synonyms: conceit, egotism, vanity, vainglory

Belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.”*
Synonyms:  faith, reliance, dependence
(*definitions found at: dictionary.com)

When Arielle asked me to write on confidence I realized that when it comes to recovery it is difficult to discuss confidence without also discussing pride. See, in recovery there are two voices in your head – your destructive, Eating Disorder voice (commonly referred to as ED); and your constructive, Recovery Voice (this represents your true self). 

Confidence – that’s Recovery language; but Pride, well that’s ED language.  

And when we are fighting off our inner demons, our sense of self is typically not at its highest – and this is when we have the greatest opportunity to develop confidence; however, this is also when we are most vulnerable to developing pride. 

Why is ED so bent on us developing pride? Wouldn’t he prefer we remain insecure? 

Yes and no. Yes, ED would prefer for us to remain insecure; however, it is possible to be insecure while also being prideful. According to the definition offered above, Pride is based on a “[disproportionately high] opinion of one’s merit or superiority”, and in recovery this causes more harm than good.
Pride does not tell you to persevere on the hard days because it would never admit to having a ‘hard day’; it does not tell you that you are worth more than the way you are living, because it sees the way you are living as just fine; it does not tell you that you can have a better life and that others can help you get there, because it does not need others. Instead, it tells you that the hard days ‘weren’t hard at all’, that the way you are living is no worse than anyone else, that your life is just fine, and that you most definitely do not need to seek the help of others – you’ve got this covered on your own, right? 

These are all lies. Lies that keep you in denial. Lies that keep you chained to ED. 

Before I entered into recovery for my Eating Disorder, I was insufferably proud. Despite my lack of confidence, I still believed I knew better than everyone else, that I didn’t need help from anybody else, and that there were a whole lot of people far more screwed up than I was. And even when times got hard (and even downright frightening), I didn’t seek out help – because I was better than that, because I was ‘stronger’ than that. 

Little did I know that this Pride was only keeping me weak. 

And it wasn’t until I got the strength to let go of my pride that I was able to move forward in recovery and gain my life back. 

I was completely defeated – lying on the couch crying, weak, and hungry – and I knew I had nothing to lose, unless I stayed where I was, then I had my entire life to lose. And I realized it was my pride that had taken me to that place. That place where no one, and I mean no one, knew what was going on.
So slowly I began letting go of my pride. I told my professor, and then I staged my own intervention (yup, no jokes). And as I sat there in my living room, surrounded by family and close friends – most of who hardly knew the severity of what was going on – I said: I don’t want to stop. But I want to want to stop. And I need your help.” 

They stayed with me for three hours that night – praying for me, listening to me, and encouraging me. And it was in that moment that the pride I had been holding on to so tightly began to disappear and confidence moved in to take its place. 

Confidence told me that I did deserve better than how I was living. It told me that I had been wrong, but that was OK, because now I was on the right path. It told me that I could recover, and that I was worth it, too. And most importantly, it let me know that it was ok to ask for help. 

Along with my pride also went my vanity. 

See, with ED I fluctuated between seeing myself as ugly and horrible, to seeing myself as All That. Vanity led me to the scale, tape measure, and mirror dozens of times a day. Vanity led me to compare myself to every other girl in the room. Vanity took away my True Beauty. 

But now (despite what some may think because of all my Instagram headshots!) I am not vain, but I do have confidence. I love myself for who I am, and the way that I am. I have learnt to accept my body (which was not easy, but was SO worth it). Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my moments of insecurity (I am, after all, only human), but it is this newly found confidence that is able to shout even louder than these lies and shoot them down before they can settle in.

And so my question for you is this: are you proud, or do you have confidence? 

If you are letting Pride control you, you need to realize this is what ED wants. So start fighting back, because YOU are strong, YOU are beautiful, and YOU are worth recovery…and you CAN do it - be confident in that!  

Here are some ways you can begin letting go of your pride:

  •          Be honest with yourself when you are having a rough day and reach out to someone
  •          Tell your counsellor/therapist about your recent slip-ups/relapse
  •         Develop self-awareness: don’t stay in denial of the existence or severity of your struggles
  •         Share your struggles with a trusted friend or family member and receive their support – remember, this doesn’t mean you are weak, this means you are strong and confident enough in yourself that you know accepting help from others doesn’t threaten who/what you are
  •         Avoid things that feed into vanity: stop comparing yourself to others, stop obsessing over your appearance each morning before you leave the house, stop thinking you’re ‘All That’ – because you know when the pendulum swings the other way, you’ll be calling yourself ugly. Instead, see yourself as Beautiful (inside & out)

Here are some ways to begin developing confidence: 

  •        Allow others to build into your life and show you who they see you as: beautiful, strong, capable 
  •         Accept compliments, and believe them
  •        STOP weighing/measuring yourself. Just stop. NOW. There is no reason to do this unless it is under professional supervision (and then you may even be able to request to not be told what the numbers are)
  •        Spend time looking at yourself in the mirror. Really. But not in the way you used to – look in the mirror and point out all the things you LOVE about yourself. But the minute EDs critical voice begins to whisper, WALK AWAY
  •        Write down things you love about yourself & inspiring reminders and post them on ALL of your mirrors, your fridge, your door etc… 
  •         Listen to music that gives you a sense of worth, confidence, & strength. Some of my favourites: “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera, “Hello” by Christina Aguilera, “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera, “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato, “Believe in Me” by Demi Lovato, “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, “Concrete Girl” by Switchfoot.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights, Lauren. I'm proud of you - and I mean that in a completely positive way. ;-) I'm also confident that you will continue to do great things.
Lauren Bersaglio is the Founding President & Editor of Libero Network (www.liberonetwork.com) – an online magazine & resource site for those recovering from eating disorders, depression, addiction, anxiety, and abuse. Lauren also writes on her personal blog www.laurenbersaglio.com. You can contacter her at: laurenb[at]liberonetwork.com and follow her on Twitter @lauren_b_sag

How to Celebrate Your Good Qualities and Confidence

This week's topic continues our 4 week rotation all about YOU.

Last week, I talked about 

Today's video touches on: How to Celebrate Your Good Qualities & Talents - It's okay to be proud of yourself, to think you're SMART, FUN, THOUGHTFUL, MUSICALLY TALENTED, ATHLETIC, etc. And it's even okay to celebrate it!!!! Don't sell yourself short, but also don't pretend you're less than you are just because you think it's more socially acceptable! There is a difference between being self-absorbed and self-confident!

Monday, August 20, 2012


Each year, for the anniversary of the site, I typically give it a fresh look. Well, ACTIVELY   ARIELLE won't turn 5 until October, but instead of waiting 2 more months, I decided to give the site its new look today.

I decided to keep the same words in the header, but opted for a new pic with more of a smile to fit with the positive atmosphere. :-) I also changed up the colors, going with a more simplistic look, where the words and images shown here will have to speak for themselves.

I wanted to steer away from anything too busy or distracting. I want this to be a calm space, waiting for whoever chooses to visit. I want this to be a clean, fresh, unmarred space with energy on the pages.

In other news, I'm hoping to showcase some new Recovery Cats in the coming weeks. Currently, there are 33 delightful cats, all available on a variety of products (magnets, mugs, art prints, photo prints, greeting cards, postcards, mousepads, and coasters!).

The Print Shop is here: Arielle's Recovery Cats.

Recovery is the cat's meow. :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Exit to Make a Return to Yourself

My fabulous friend Tracey, at Just As I Am, has been facilitating a great blogging program for interested bloggers in recovery. The weekly prompts can be found at Blogging for Wellbeing and it's a wonderful way for the eating disorder recovery community to gain support, share wisdom, and use their individual voices!

This week, I wanted to pop into the Blogging for Wellbeing mix with a little something.

Last week's blog prompt was "Self" and this week's is "Beauty." To me, those two go together, creating a union that is unstoppable. When I saw each of the blog prompts, I was reminded of a poem I wrote some years ago. Though the title of it is "Exit," it's really about beginning anew. "Exit" refers to leaving one thing in order to jump full-force into something better. To me, it's about the self and it's also about beauty... beauty OF the self, beauty of life, beauty of the power within. Thanks, Tracey, for reminding me of this poem and for the opportunity to share it with others.


Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving like a flash of light
That shone once and was gone.

Safer to go than to stay,
Better to learn than to wait,
I’m going.  I’m flying.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving and I’m coming back
A new woman.

Out of my life and into my dreams,
Born once again,
I’m running away.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving like a gust of wind
You feel only for an instant.

I’m ready to jump,
I’m ready to fall,
I’m ready to go.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving and I’m coming back
A new woman.

To care for myself,
To leap into the unexpected,
To grow like a flower in the rain.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving like the moon leaves
In the morning light.

Like rain that falls from full clouds,
My thoughts cascade and flow
Into carved paths time digs into the ground.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving and I’m coming back
A new woman.

Leaves fall and bloom again in spring;
So do our spirits fall, only to again
Be replenished with happiness.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving like the seeds
Leave the swaying trees.

Like a seed, bursting from earth
So I have grown too,
A flower not yet fully blossomed.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving and I’m coming back
A new woman.

Promise is there—
The promise to experience
With a face upturned toward the sun.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving like yesterday
That turns into tomorrow.

Exit—here I go,
I’m leaving and I’m coming back
A new woman.

© Arielle Lee Bair 2006

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Self-Imposed Limitations

A new 4 week rotation has begun!

This week, I'm talking about how to be true to yourself despite...life circumstances, what other people say/do, your own limitations (legit ones, not self-imposed ones), etc. I'm also talking about how this plays into making goals, achieving dreams, and feeling authentic. "Instead of saying I Wish, Say I Will" - that kind of learned mentality.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Being Free

This week's Wednesday Warrior video is entitled "Being Free."

So watch it. Believe in yourself. And BE FREE. :-)