Dear Body: A Letter of Apology and Gratitude

Dear Body,
I know that we haven't always been close or even on friendly terms and the amount of abuse that you have suffered at my expense is astronomical but I am here to apologize and show my gratitude.

I am sorry for using you as a way to convey my pain and suffering. For all of the times that I starved you and overexercised to get my point across. For all of the harsh words that were uttered in your direction in order to avoid my true fears and feelings. For every time I walked past a mirror and shuttered at you/my reflection. For losing trust in your ability to function and do your thing. I am sorry for trying to manipulate you in ways that were harmful. For punishing you when you were not the one to blame. For taking out every hateful and painful thing that has ever been done to me, on you. But I am mostly sorry for using you as my voice when I couldn't find mine.

Body, I think your resilience is amazing. Thank you so much for continuing to fight when I had stopped and for never giving up on me. For continuing to function when you were past running on empty. Thank you for never completely giving out on me. But even more so, thanks for the reminders that I was still alive; the horrible pangs of hunger that couldn't be ignored, the fatigue, dizziness and lack of energy that no amount of sleep could cure and even the never ending coldness and the temporary loss of my period over the years. Although I usually reacted with anger and further destruction, these signs forced me to see the truth. Forced me to face the reality of the situation that I was killing myself. That I am human and not invincible. And I am thankful for these reminders before it was too late.

Thank you legs for being pillars of strength. For allowing me to walk, run and be a great athlete. For enduring long obsessive workouts and a lot of scrutiny from me. For being muscular and never letting me forget where I come from. Thighs and calves, I am sorry for cursing your size, trying to make you smaller and berating you for your inability to fit in skinny jeans. Without you I wouldn't have been able and continue to be able to do a lot of cool things like triathlons, tread water, rock climb and even walk the dog. Butt, I am sorry for trying to make you disappear and for cringing every time I catch a glimpse of you in the mirror. I hope to one day appreciate you and compliment you as much as John does. Hips, thanks for being wide and pronounced. One day you are going to make being pregnant and having a kid a little easier. Chest, I know that we have had a love hate relationship, but independent of your size, thanks for reminding me that I am a woman. Arms, shoulders and back, thanks for being strong. For allowing me to swim and for gracefully enduring all of the lengthy training and workouts that I have put you through. I am sorry for the years that I spent angry at you for being broad and for all of the times I stood in the dressing room defeated because you couldn't fit comfortably in a certain shirt or dress. You allow me to do awesome things like kayak, cuddle, hug and carry children.

I am sorry for all of the times that I believed that weight loss was the answer and forced you down to sizes that were not healthy and put you into survival mode. Organs, I am sorry for forcing you to work overtime and even start to shut down because of my overexertion and lack of nourishment. I am sorry for allowing you to be touched inappropriately and for repeatedly enduring abuse by others. I am sorry for not speaking up on your behalf and saying no. But mostly I am sorry for continuing the abuse and self hatred, even after others stopped.

Body, I know that we have been through hell together and that there are still a lot of reparations to be made and that you are still hesitant and questioning my intentions. I know that gaining back my trust is going to take time but I am so glad to be able to call you home. Just like you never gave up on me, I will never give up on you ever again. Although I know that there will be slips on the way and I might not always show my love and appreciation so openly, I am looking forward to reconnecting with you; learning how to listen to your signals, feed you properly, rest when needed, trust your abilities and wisdom, as well as appreciate your strength, size and beauty. I know you may not believe this after all of the abuse and pain that I have put you through, but I think you are amazing and I am glad to call you mine.


*see menu in sidebar for more eating disorder and body image submissions.


False Advertising: A Documentary

The creation of Jennifer Bowker, Avery Archie, and Michelle Costales, False Advertising is a documentary about the negative impact of media on women's  relationships with their bodies.

Friends through high school, they joined forces after college and founded Jam Films.

"We all went to high school together and were all friends. After graduating college, Jen presented the idea of a documentary with this subject matter. As a sociology major, Jen studied subject matter such as women's issues and body image. I [Avery] was a communications/video production major in college and have also done a lot of analyzing of media and its relationship towards women. Jen tweeted the idea and I wanted to get on board. Michelle was also on board and we began meeting frequently, talking and discussing our next steps towards making this documentary a reality."  

They're exposing the connection between how beauty is represented by the media and it's negative effect on self-esteem and body image.

"Women are taught from a young age that looks are the most important part of who they are and sadly, that is where their value lies. Unfortunately, there is a strict mold one must fit to be considered “beautiful” in today’s society. This is a direct result of the limited portrayal of what is considered beautiful in the media today."

Though each has their own experience with the effects of false advertising and their own reasons for being inspired to create this documentary, there is a commonality that resonates with so many. 

Jen:  I have grown up in Los Angeles my whole life. With that said, I have been exposed to A LOT of "false advertising," which over time has taken a toll on me. Growing up I didn't really care what I looked like until one day someone asked me, "why aren't you as pretty as your [older] sister?" That simple question changed my life forever. As the words sunk in I began to criticize myself - my hair, clothes, lack of makeup, body type - everything. After that day, I shifted my priories from what I wanted to be when I grew up to my appearance and, from that day on, I started comparing myself to not only my sister but the women in the media who were considered "beautiful" - looking to them to find some answers about how I could fix myself.

Since high school I have overcome a lot of physical and emotional battles regarding body image and self-esteem. Unfortunately, I'd be lying if I said I am free from these chains. Learning to be happy with my body and appearance is a continuous struggle, especially when we live in a society where there is a limited portrayal of what is considered "beautiful." A society where the media decides who and what fits that standard. A society where we are taught from a young age that looks are the most important part of who we are as a woman and that is where our value lies. And a society where we have been taught to never be content with who we are and where we are constantly reminded there is always room for improvement. The problem doesn’t lie in self-improvement but rather in wanting to fix something that isn't broken… wanting to fix something that is perfect just the way it is.

For years I thought I was alone in my feelings of inadequacy because I didn't feel "beautiful" enough. Unfortunately, I am not alone. My story is just one of millions. Everyone has a story to tell, and our goal for this documentary was to find women from all different backgrounds to do just that - to tell their story about how the media has negatively affected their body image and self-esteem with the limited portrayal of women and what it means to be "beautiful." Fortunately, I have found some incredible women willing to be vulnerable and share their stories with everyone. They are very powerful and I can't wait for everyone to see the final product.

Avery: Even growing up in a society engulfed in media and entertainment, I have often found it difficult to relate to anyone showing up on my television screen. Whether it be race, body shape or type it is often difficult for many women and girls to relate to females in the media because of false advertising. As a woman of color it is sometimes troubling to see that there are very little portrayals of people like me in the media. When I was younger I didn't particularly find myself being confident with my body image/looks because women of color were rarely starring in the spotlight, assuming light skinned skinny women were the only ones acceptable in magazines and the media.

Michelle: This project is really close to my heart for many reasons. Growing up in a world where people constantly judge you for how you look was really hard for me. I never thought that I was attractive when I was younger. My hair was frizzy, my arms too scrawny, and my boobs were pretty much nonexistent. I would look through magazines and watch TV shows and always felt like I wasn't even close to what was portrayed as being "beautiful." As I grew up, and I learned and experienced life as we all do, I realized that everyone struggles with this. The girls that were popular in my class, the athletes, the smart-kids, and even the teachers are affected by the media's idea of beauty. We live in a world where image is so important and I wanted to be part of something that threw all of those ideas out the window--that exposed the media’s influence on us as "false advertising" and to let people know that they aren't alone and that we all have struggled with this.

False Advertising documents young women's personal accounts of the affects of media on body image perspective.

In our documentary you will hear the stories and experiences of young women from all different backgrounds; stories about how the media has negatively affected them and those around them. We believe personal stories are very important because, like Avery said above, stories are easier to relate to than statistics and facts.
In the end, the goal of our documentary is to help women, and men, start thinking critically about the media and how they define what is considered "beautiful." It is detrimental to women of all ages when they internalize this ideal of beauty and strive to become it. We want women to know they are not alone in their feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and insecurity and, with each other, we can hopefully change the way we view beauty and ourselves. 

We believe the media can be used for good but in this day and age the majority of what is being produced isn't cutting it. Women of all ages, types, size, and color need to speak up and share their stories. After watching our documentary, we hope it will spark much needed conversation about these issues and empower women to stand up and fight for change - change in the way the media portrays women and beauty. We hope that after watching our documentary everyone will view the media in a different light and see it for what it really is: False Advertising.

Jen, Avery, and Michelle explain why this project is so important to them. 

Jen: This project means a lot to me. Like I said above, I have always felt alone in my feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. However, after interviewing these girls and hearing their stories I realize these feelings lie in everyone. Even though these girls come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, they still have similar answers to the questions. This isn't a coincidence. There is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed and continually talked about until it changes: the media. In order to do so, we need to stop blaming ourselves and start thinking critically about what we are receiving as truth. We need to share our stories and speak out against it in order to find freedom. This isn't just a documentary, it's a movement and that is why it means so much to me. The age at which girls are being affected by the media is getting younger and younger and I want them, as well as all girls, to know they aren't alone; that they don't have to resort to an eating disorder or self-harm or suicide. That there is help and there are people who can relate. What I love most about our documentary is what we have planned for the end. In the end we have advice from some of the girls on how to help combat the messages the media is sending. Since there isn't a direct solution to the problem, we thought advice would be best because it is encouraging and it reminds women that there is hope. The advice the girls give is unique and thoughtful, which will hopefully help many girls in the future. 

Avery: I think this project can be a really big stepping stone for women and girls all over. It is important that women are aware of these issues presented in the media. The media isn't often inclusive towards women of different shapes, colors, types and sizes. It is touching hearing all these women talk about how it has affected them personally. Everyone can easily relate more to a person telling a story rather than statistics. It is key to share these types of stories, which is what we are trying to do.

Michelle: I think that this project is incredibly important in that it can be a voice for people who are afraid to challenge the ideas that so heavily influence us. My personal favorite part of the project is that during the interviews with the girls we get a feel for who they are and are able to relate to the things they have gone through. Stories are so important. They help us connect to one another and let us relate to one another. They influence us and move us and can help shape us into who we are. They stick with us over the years, can make us cry or laugh and feel the things that sometimes we need to feel. Hearing these girls share personal experiences help us get to know them in a way and make us feel that we aren't alone in issues that we all struggle with and face. I think that that is what touches me the most about this project. I'm so honored to be a part of it!

False Advertising will be available on YouTube and Vimeo with a tentative release date of April 2013. 

They will be launching a Kickstarter on Friday, March 1, 2013. You can learn more about what it is and why they need YOUR help to accomplish their goal:

link becomes active March 1st

You can find False Advertising/Jam Films on Facebook, and  Twitter

Be sure to check out this segment of  where Jen, Avery, and Michelle join the founder of Healthy is the New Skinny - Natural Models Management, Katie Halchishick [Willcox], model Danika Brysha and some of the girls from the documentary in a discussion concerning how the media impacts our perceptions of beauty, self-worth and what is considered "ideal" beauty in today's society. 


Share Your Body Acceptance/Body Love Experience For Upcoming Post

Would you like to participate in a post for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? 

I am looking for your experience with loving and accepting your body; the learning how to, the process, the benefits, the changes it's made in your life, recovery, relationship with yourself, and your eating disorder.
I'm a strong believer in the healing power and connection of shared experiences, stories, struggles, and triumphs. 

It's short notice, and we're rushed for time, but if you would like to participate and share your experience in this upcoming post, please send an email (with a paragraph or two for inclusion) to Please include how you would like to be credited (anonymous, first name, first name with last initial) and please include your age. 

Thank You!

*Please share this with anyone you think will be interested. The more points of view shared, the better. 


Weighing The Facts Turns 5 Today!

Weighing The Facts celebrates it's 5 year blogiversary today! 

Five years! 

What an incredible adventure these 5 years have been. This blog (twitter and facebook) have allowed me to meet the most extraordinary people.  I'm so grateful to have met so many in the eating disorders, body image, and mental health communities who have shared their experience, knowledge, pain, joy, inspiration, and encouragement.

No matter how you're a part of Weighing The Facts I want you to know how appreciative I am, and I'd just like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU! 
MrsM :)


Eating Disorders News And Views: February 23, 2013

Eating Disorder Survivors Share Tales of Recovery

Michaela Kitt’s family first noticed she was unusually thin when she was 8 years old. By the time she was 15, she’d been hospitalized twice for anorexia nervosa, a condition where one restricts food. Erin Moore was a senior in high school when she began binging and purging to cope with family difficulties — classic signs of bulimia. Both girls recovered from their eating disorders by seeking help early, with the help of family. They’re sharing their stories as part of a program Feb. 27 hosted by outpatient mental health counselor Lynne Vestal during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
Read Survivors in full.

Are Personality Disorders Overdiagnosed in EDs?

Lots of other mental health conditions commonly co-occur with eating disorders. I’ve blogged before about the links between OCD and EDs, and I’ve tangentially talked about links to depression and other anxiety disorders. But a paper published this week in the journal Psychopathology (von Lojewski, Fisher, & Abraham, 2013) reminded me that I haven’t yet blogged about the relatively strong and frequent co-occurrence of personality disorders and EDs.

 First, some definitions. Quoth Wikipedia on the subject of personality disorders:

These behavioral patterns in personality disorders are typically associated with substantial disturbances in some behavioral tendencies of an individual, usually involving several areas of the personality, and are nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption. Additionally, personality disorders are inflexible and pervasive across many situations, due in large part to the fact that such behavior may be ego-syntonic (i.e. the patterns are consistent with the ego integrity of the individual) and are, therefore, perceived to be appropriate by that individual. This behavior can result in maladaptive coping skills, which may lead to personal problems that induce extreme anxiety, distress or depression. The onset of these patterns of behavior can typically be traced back to early adolescence and the beginning of adulthood and, in some instances, childhood.
Read Overdiagnosed in full.

Battling Anorexia and its Stereotypes 

“I remember looking outside and seeing that the sun was shining and it was springtime but I realised I wasn’t connecting with the world in any way,” said Georgina Routen, recalling the moment she knew she needed help to fight her anorexia.

 “I couldn’t face the thought of getting out of bed, I was completely at the point of exhaustion and I thought, how had I done this to myself? At that point I realised I needed to do something, I wasn’t living, I was dreaming my way through the world. I was disconnected from everyone and everything around me. All I did was think about food and my school work.”

 Seeing images of those stricken with an eating disorder always leads to this exact question: how can anyone let this happen to themselves?

 Catwalk images of overly skinny models are often cited as a motivation for anorexia, arguably fuelling the typically false stereotype that this life-threatening illness is just a diet which has gone badly wrong.
Read Stereotypes in full.

Understanding the Genetic Basis of Anorexia
CTV Montreal (video report)

Every time she stepped on a scale, every time she looked in a mirror, Jennifer Youssef was horrified by the morbidly obese person she saw.

It didn't matter that this 300 pound person didn't exist -- for her, the image was overwhelming.

"I said I should be perfect. I want to just be perfect," said Youssef. PHOTOS Jennifer Youssef weighed just 95 pounds.

The way toward perfection was to starve herself. But the problem with anorexia is that no matter how thin a person is in reality, the brain sees itself differently.

"It was never good enough, my weight was never low enough. I just wanted to keep losing and losing and losing."

At one point she weighed 95 pounds, but in her brain she was fat and ugly.

"I was not eating. I was exercising. I was abusing laxatives, I was abusing fat burners," said Youssef.

Anorexia Nervosa is not just an eating disorder, but a mental illness that affects tens of thousands of women in Quebec. It's also one of the most deadly mental illnesses, with up to 10 percent of those affected dying of the disorder.
Read Genetic Basis in full.

Anorexia Death Leads Mother to Call for Hospital Reform

Vickie Townsend said that as Laura Willmott approached 18 medical staff stopped telling her of her daughter's progress 

The mother of a teenage girl who died from anorexia has called for hospitals to change the way they treat young people as they become adults.

Vickie Townsend's daughter, Laura Willmott, died from complications caused by the eating disorder. Townsend told an inquest that as the former public schoolgirl approached her 18th birthday, medical staff stopped informing her of her daughter's progress.

Avon coroners' court heard that Willmott, first diagnosed with anorexia at 13, succumbed to the condition in December 2011 a week after suffering a cardiac arrest while being treated in hospital.

She had been discharged from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) shortly before turning 18 the previous February because she no longer wanted help and was missing appointments. By 28 October she was in such poor health she was admitted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, but was discharged on 8 November with a feeding plan to follow at home, against her mother's wishes.
Read Hospital Reform in full.

New Characteristic of Binge Eating Identified (video report)

UAB's latest binge eating study involves food concoctions ... which is the strange mixture of completely unlike foods which patients binge on.

The study is making medical news around the country because it may be one of the first times concocting has been specifically investigated.

Like a chemist in a lab preparing drugs, experts say binge eaters are no different. They feel excitement and are anxious leading up to the point where they binge. UAB's new characteristics of binge eating identified odd concoctions ... like mashed potates and oreo cookies with pickles, or frozen vegetables mixed with mayonnaise and chips with lemon, pork rinds and salt.

Beth McMurray is the Clinical Director at "A Center for Eating Disorders". She is also a recovering binge eater.

McMurray says what UAB's study has " revealed" has the potential to help caregivers and patients in a tremendous new way. It found that 41 percent of those who concocted said the behavior was due to a craving ... only nine percent reporter hunger as a motive.
Read New Characteristic in full. 

Operation Beautiful holds panel on Eating Disorders and Recovery

Liz Klemt, a senior health sciences major, thought she knew everything about nutrition until her counselor told her she wouldn’t die if she ate a cheesesteak.

Starting November 2011, she had a binge eating and excessive exercising disorder, but never purged. 

On Tuesday night, Operation Beautiful, a club that seeks to promote positive body image and raise eating disorder awareness, held a panel discussion on the prevention, education and treatment of eating disorders in honor of eating disorder awareness month.

Klemt said she used to lie to her roommate about how often she worked out.

“I would tell her I only ran a little in the morning, but it was actually five miles,” Klemt said. “At night, I would sometimes run eight miles.”

Klemt hasn’t binged since November of 2012. She hopes to inspire others through her story.

“I realized that calories are fuel and your body needs them,” Klemt said. “It’s not necessary to constantly read food labels.”
Read Operation Beautiful Panel in full

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The NDSU Counseling Center and several student organizations will shine a spotlight on the importance of positive body image and healthy lifestyle habits during national Eating Disorder Awareness Week Feb. 25 to March 2.

The demands of college life have attributed to nearly 25 percent of college students nationwide suffering from eating disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Although eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Obesity have much to do with genetic predispositions, the intense external pressures of a college lifestyle can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health, which may lead to an eating disorder. They are the deadliest of all mental health problems, but the key, according to Counseling Center Assistant Director Marlys Borkhuis, is prevention through education and maintaining a positive body image. “It is such a time of growth, being in college,” Borkuis stated.

“It is a time of change for students and part of that is figuring out your balance. People don’t get into an eating disorder purposefully; people fall into it very innocently.”
Read ED Awareness Week in full.

Putting a Stop to Unhealthy Weight-Based Commentary!

One of the first things I tell my patients struggling with an eating disorder or body image concerns is that when people say to you, “You look like you’ve gained weight” or “You look so thin”, it is okay and appropriate to say back both politely and firmly, “I feel uncomfortable when you comment on my body and would prefer that we talk about something else.”

We have lost our sense of propriety when it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate to say about other peoples’ bodies. This type of talk begins with the media and trickles down to the family dinner table. The media teach us that there is one clear standard of beauty (i.e., tall, thin, and young) and that until we reach that unrealistic standard, we have a problem that needs to be fixed. Not only are we taught that our bodies are flawed and need to be fixed, we are also taught that our physical “inadequacies” are a result of our own failure or a lack of will power. No wonder we feel inadequate!

One of the ways that media reinforce this idea is by endlessly commenting on bodies, particularly the bodies of public figures who do not fit society’s beauty mold. In the wake of the Grammy awards, we saw numerous media reports commenting on Adele and Kelly Clarkson’s weight.
Read Putting a Stop in full.

Walking Billboards? No Way! Love Your Body

Our body image deeply affects our relationship with our body. Unfortunately, resolving body image problems is one of the most difficult and longstanding challenges for those in eating disorder recovery. Research seems to indicate that there may be a true level of distorted body perception when it comes to individuals with eating disorders, particularly in the case of anorexia. But, there is much hope for developing a more positive body image and an increasingly compassionate and respectful relationship with our body.

Body image and eating disorders are deeply entwined. Likely, the body image was poor long before the eating disorder developed. A poor body image can be triggered by teasing from others growing up...
Read Walking Billboards in full.

What might Family Based Treatment Suggest About Treatment for Adults with Eating Disorders?

In the field of eating disorders, multiple studies have shown that Family Based Treatment (FBT) is the most effective method available to achieve successful weight restoration and maintenance after treatment is completed. Unfortunately, specific treatments for adults have not been shown to have the same long term benefits as

FBT. Clearly there are many variables involved in this data, however there are elements to FBT that may point us to a better understanding of what happens for adults.
FBT has 3 distinct phases: refeeding, transition of control from family back to the patient, and addressing normal adolescent issues. All of this happens while the adolescent is in the (hopefully) safe confines of their family. For adults, intensive treatment often stops after refeeding and cessation of behaviors, which would be considered only phase 1 of FBT. It often happens that an adult client...
Read FBT in full.

Inspirational Recovery: I'll Rise

Now you may shoot me with your words
You may cut me with your eyes
and I'll rise
I'll rise...
Out of the shacks of 
history's shame
Up from a past rooted 
in pain
I'll rise...
Ben Harper


Recovery: Show Yourself Some Love This Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day. What better way to celebrate than showing yourself a little self-love and appreciation?

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
Lucille Ball

Don't forget to love yourself.
Soren Kierkegaard

You have to be able to love yourself because that's when things fall into place.
Vanessa Hudgens

Love brings you face to face with yourself. It`s impossible to love others if you don’t love yourself.
John Pierrkos

Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be true to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.
Steve Maraboli

Stop trying to fix yourself; you're NOT broken! You are perfectly imperfect and powerful beyond measure.
Hussein Nishah

You cannot be lonely if you like the person you`re alone with.
Wayne Dyer

I think every girl needs to love herself, regardless of anything. Like if you're having a bad day, if you don't like your hair, if you don't have the best family situation, whatever, you have to love yourself and you can't do anything until you love yourself first.
Julianne Hough

It`s not your job to like me... it`s mine.
Byron Katie

People often say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.
Salma Hayek

If you don't love yourself, you can't love anybody else. And I think as women we really forget that. Jennifer Lopez

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.
Kristin Chenoweth

Let today be the day you love yourself enough to no longer just dream of a better life; let it be the day you act upon it.
Steve Maraboli

Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.
William Shakespeare

To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don't wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.
Alan Cohen

To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.
Dave Pelzer

The love you seek is seeking you at this moment.
Deepak Chopra

see sidebar for more Recovery Quotes and Self-Love Tools.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

5 Ways to Create Balance Of Influence In Recovery

When you’re feeling defeated, down, or overwhelmed do you reach out to someone who has a way of making you feel worse, or making you feeling better?

Most of us reach out to the people who make us feel that, eventually, everything is going to be okay. We seek out the ones who put things into perspective and make us realize that we are stronger than we think, more capable than we give ourselves credit for, and more deserving than we feel.  We solicit support from those who are able to show us that all is not lost.

We do this because their attitude inspires our own.  Their support helps us to drag our current feelings, or situation, out of the dark and hold it up to a new light.  They show us a new perspective. They give us hope.

It's funny. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people can change your whole outlook on life. The opposite is also true.

Who we choose to surround ourselves with has an affect on us, as does what we surround ourselves with.

Though we find comfort in things that reassure us that we are not alone, we need to be sure that we create balance with resources that inspire us to take action, to believe in ourselves, and to move forward when we may least feel like it. Creating an inventory of positive, motivating, and encouraging influences is one way of doing just that and is vital to recovery. 

5 ways to create more positive influences in recovery:

1. Your inner and outer voice: What you think and what you say about yourself has a deep impact on your subconscious and on outcome. They can derail efforts or bolster them. The choice is yours.

Replace negativity with positivity. Repetitiveness is key. Positivity grows stronger the more you make it a part of your daily life, a part of yourself. It takes a conscious effort to replace the old voices of doubt, shame, and inadequacy but every time that you do you create possibility and hope. You forge a new path.

2. Ditch the negative support/encouragement: If it's an encouragement to continue what you're looking to change, or it triggers emotions and behaviors that are dangerous to your wellbeing, then it's not a healthy resource for recovery.  Take an honest account of what you’re surrounding yourself with and let go of what does not benefit you or your recovery. (see also: Is What You're Holding On To Holding You Back?)

3. Increase Positive Resources: Seek out both online and offline resources that are supportive, loving, and encouraging for you in your recovery. These can include, but are not limited to, recovery sites, online and offline mentoring, counseling, supportive family and friends, recovery books, support groups, affirmations... (see also: Finding Support)

4. Positivity Journal:  Journaling is an excellent tool for recovery.  Create a positivity journal. Each day write down what has inspired you and what you appreciate about yourself and your day (no matter how small).  Find a quote, affirmation, or song lyric to serve as the theme of the day and write it down. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day. Fill the journal with things that inspire you. Absolutely NO negativity is allowed in this journal.  NONE. Fill the pages with what makes you happy. Write in it EVERY day. Read it often. (see also: Self-Love Jar)

5. Meditate, Visualize, Self-Soothe:  These are great ways to distress, refocus, create feelings of calmness, and rejuvenate each day.  They are each a great way to bolster positivity and recovery. Give them a try. 
How to: 

Be patient with yourself. Allow for mistakes, let go of them, and move forward. You are capable and worthy of recovery.