Acknowledge your accomplishments! This is huge. I do this daily. We think to do this we have to do something grand, but the small things we do for ourselves helps us get through the day. Here are just two of the things I do regularly. Some mornings, it’s all I can do to just get out of bed. So, when I do get out of bed, I will literally say, “Good job Carleana. I know how hard that was for you today.” This begins the process of changing the defeating messages we hear in our heads to more engaging messages that inspire us. Another thing I do every morning, make my bed. I went years without a bed. I love the bed I have. My bed is one of the best gifts I’ve given myself. Each morning I wrap my gift, make my bed. At the end of the day, I unwrap that gift. As I slip into my bed I celebrate my accomplishments of the day.

Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Carleana De Wilde CSC-CPLC., M.A.A.Ed.

The impactful Carleana De Wilde CSC-CPLC., M.A.A.Ed. describes herself as, “A person, an advocate, facilitator, counselor, mediator, artist, parent; a woman, a mother.” She’s also the Founder of ASOAB — a holistic, cooperative, interactive, and innovative approach to addressing the impact of bullying using the arts. Having overcome many challenges herself, Carleana does not see people as “broken” — nor does she believe anything is impossible. She understands how important it is for people to feel needed and valued. Carleana is passionate about fostering a culture of inclusion, acceptance, and understanding.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

My actual childhood was relatively uneventful. I grew up in a dysfunctional functioning home. We’re Catholic Europeans. My dad was a skilled craftsman and operated his own business. Mom was a stay-at home wife & mother. I had one younger brother. My parents were very young when they married. We were not rich, or even middle class, but we always had what we needed. For me, things would change as I entered my teens. I wanted to be more than a stay-at-home wife & mother. At that time, women were transitioning into more non-traditional jobs. The summer I turned fifteen, while I didn’t realize it then, would be the summer I would learn just how instinctive my desire to live is. I was raped that summer. If I was going to survive, I knew I would have to take that scary leap into learning how to understand and believe in myself.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

What inspired me to pursue my career is circumstances, and the death of three children in two weeks. As a single mom, working full-time with the Public Service, I spent a lot of my time with my children and helping where I could. I volunteered at the school, was a Girl Guide leader, and a community advocate for children and their families in a variety of ways. But in 2011, when our community lost three children (under 12) to suicide due to bullying, I was “inspired”, and actually driven, to change my approach. And I did. I spent the rest of 2011 establishing two organizations. My corporation, It’s the Butterfly Effect Inc. Helping you find order in life’s chaos (ITBEInc.), which offers a variety of approaches to assist people during times of transition in their lives. The other entity is Artistically Speaking Out Against Bullying (ASOAB), a non-profit organization that takes a holistic, cooperative, interactive, and innovative approach to address the impact of bullying using the arts. ASOAB is open to everyone who is looking to feel better about themselves, without judgement.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Mistakes. Hmm. I’ve a different philosophy about mistakes. If we’re learning, are we making a mistake? For example, and this wasn’t when I first started either entity, but rather on my own journey of self-rediscovery. I’ve never been to Thailand, and I know very little about the daily routine of the Thai living experience. Last year, I went to Thailand to visit an amazing lady. I had no idea what a Bidet Shower, or as it is more commonly known as, the bum gun was. A bidet, yes, but not the bum gun, nope! To say I made a mistake would first imply I knew the hygiene practices of Thailand and secondly, I knew what a bum gun was and how to use the device.

The first time I used the washroom at my host’s place, I said, “Where do you keep your toilet paper? It seems you’ve run out.” Hahaha was the initial response I heard followed by, “We don’t use toilet paper, just use the ‘bum gun’”.

Not wanting to appear anymore ignorant for the mistake I did make, I chose to pretend I knew what that was and simply said, “Oh ok”.

What did I learn? Well, I was reminded, there are no stupid questions. Here are the three things I learned through that experience I’ll share with you. First, if you don’t know how something works, don’t be embarrassed to ask. Which leads me to the next two things I learned. When using a bum gun, always preset the water pressure before using it, and learn how to aim blindly to avoid creating a huge mess.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Right now, the most interesting and exciting project I’m working on is myself. When I retired in 2011 to pursue my new career, I felt 99.9% confident in myself and the new path I was on. However, I never imagined I would be knocked down, abandoned, and facing many of the self-doubts I thought I had overcome years earlier. I had accomplished so much self-growth during my twenties and thirties. But whoa — when people you trust to have your back start calling you stupid, irresponsible, self-righteous, — things you heard as a child growing up, I started to sink into self-doubt. I’ll speak more about this later, but here’s what I chose to do. Rather than falling back into old habits I shifted my approach and got real with myself. Now I schedule time to celebrate who I am, what I’ve accomplished, and what I can offer.

It’s like the chaos theory, the smallest change can have great impacts. By shifting my perspective, my approach to life changed. Like the still waters, once we toss even a leaf onto the surface the ripples go on.

Another metaphor is how a gentle stream running along a mountain, changes the shape of the mountain. It is always easier to make changes in your life when you have someone who will listen to you and be honest with you. Plus, it never hurts to see someone who has had similar experiences you’re going through, who had to engage in the chaos with little to no supports, and still be able to live a life worth living.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Of course. I could share many reasons, but I’ll focus on what I think are the primary reasons. No one wants to live a life filled with anger or feeling less than or resentful. We want to feel good about ourselves. We want to have some control over what we do and how we live. We want to sleep well, be clear in our minds, and feel healthy. Ultimately, we want to live amazing lives. To do that, it’s paramount we believe in ourselves. Part of believing in ourselves means to understand what inspires us. Who am I? What do I value. How do I meet my needs to achieve my desires?

I organized and ran a pilot project at Artistically Speaking Out Against Bullying (ASOAB). ASOAB had been using a programme I had created to assist individual children and youth who had self-injured (harmed) and/or attempted suicide due to poorly addressed bullying. I wanted to expand the programme to see if it could be implemented successfully in a group setting. Plus, I was being asked what evidence I had to validate the programme’s benefit.

The pilot project included twelve participants, ranging in age from four to eleven. The programme did not focus on the bullying, but rather it provided a safer space where participants might rediscover their value and purpose. Through the creative process, we explored coping skills that worked and restructured those that didn’t. As well, we focused on their rugged resiliency abilities while discovering what resiliency resources they might access as needed. As in any personal growth-based experiences, the participants were invited to do a homework assignment each week. Although it was a ‘simple’ exercise, for many, it is a challenging one.

They had to spend the week looking for three things they liked about themselves. They didn’t have to report back, but I said I would like to hear how they felt as they went through the process, if they felt comfortable to share. Naturally, at first no one wanted to share. And that was ok. As the weeks past though, participants started to share with me privately, and then they were excited to share within the group. There were many powerful stories. The first one, still resonates deeply with me today. Before the session began on the morning of the third week, the eleven-year-old participant ran into the greet area eager to speak with me. It was the first time I had seen a smile on the child’s face. Grabbing my hand to ensure they had my attention the child said, “Carleana this week I realized I’m pretty. I have gorgeous long legs. And have you seen my eyes? Aren’t they the most beautiful brown eyes you’ve ever seen?”

OMG. For more reasons than this child will ever know, yes, they were the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

This child was only four months after their second suicide attempt. After the programme the child supported a community nomination for me and ASOAB with this testimonial:

“When I first join the bullying program I was depressed. I was listening to what bullies said, and believing them. During the bullying program I learned I am more special [than] I thought I was, and that what anyone else thinks of me doesn’t matter, that only what I thought of myself matters.” Participant, 11 years old.

Over the years, this participant still keeps in touch with me. When they were with ASOAB, they share they wanted to be a chef when they grew up but didn’t think they were smart or rich enough to do that.

Today they are enrolled in a culinary programme pursuing their dream of being a chef. This is why it is so important to believe in yourself!

What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?

I think, to believe in yourself means you believe you’re worthy of being alive. It means you trust yourself to make decisions that are in your best interest even when others try to tell you something different. It means finding the courage to face your fears even when you’re not sure. It means to truly embrace yourself, love every aspect of who you are especially the areas you feel less confident about, and be ok with it.

Absolutely. If you believe it, you’re on your way to achieving it. Vincent van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” I would ask you, what does it mean to you to be a ‘great artist’? Why do you think you’re not very talented? Personally, I think everyone is great at what they do. Now some people would disagree with me and that’s ok. Is the two-year-old child that marks a on a canvas more or less of a great artist than Charles Schultz, Gustave Courbet, or Franz Marc? Truth is, no one is born with a ‘talent’ that didn’t need to be nurtured.

I would answer this question the same way as I did to the person who asked if they could be a great artist. Fun fact. There isn’t a single gold medal Olympian who woke up on the morning of the competition, showed up, and took the gold. Most athletes I know, whether they were Olympians or Professional, all had to dedicate their lives to their sport to achieve the level of skill by which we accept as talented, great, and who became a gold medalist. If they could do that, why couldn’t you? I think, if a person wants to be a great artist or a gold medal Olympian, they should ask themselves if they believe they can do it, not someone else. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” Henry Ford.

If you’re asking can someone be anything they want to be. I would say I firmly believe nothing is impossible, but is it probable? I live in a country and time when almost anything is possible. Truth is, we don’t know what we can or cannot do unless we try. The question is, is the desire realistic? Life is full of choices and natural consequences. I’ve been blessed to know many people who’ve achieved things many thought was impossible. I’ve also seen people others thought would achieve great things but didn’t. It’s not easy to have the courage to accept the things we want rather than conceding to the desire’s others put on us. Our choices contribute greatly to the way we live our lives.

Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?

Of course. Many times. And I’m sure there will always be times when doubt tries to seep into my life. Part of believing in yourself, is taking responsibility for your own choice, without guilt. Sometimes, it meant I didn’t pursue things I wanted to do, like taking advantage of an opportunity to spend two months traveling Asia and Australia. Other times, it was my motivator. As it has been in the past decade where I’ve seized opportunities that have yielded some really amazing personal accomplishments.

At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?

I’m not sure that there was one specific point. I suppose it’s when I find myself in a position where I’ve put my desires aside to fulfill someone else’s expectations of me only to learn, no matter what I did, it was never enough. I think that’s when I’m the hardest on myself, at least initially. I start to live in a state of victim mentality. I’ve been a victim to the behaviors of others, but I refuse to live in a perpetual state of victim mentality. I’m the one who loses when I do that. I become resentful. I lose out on opportunities. My health fails. I lose friends. I become paranoid. It’s just not a fun place to live. When those feelings start to set in, I have to deliberately turn in the opposite direction literally and metaphorically. Often this is when I choose to simply pause. Take a breath and be real with myself. Find the things I like about me and my life, then consider my options.

Sure, I can share a story. When I married my ex-husband, there was something in my gut that kept telling me this wasn’t right, yet he said the right things, people thought he was perfect for me, and I was told it was just normal pre-wedding jitters. My marriage wasn’t good, but for the most part it was manageable. For years I had put my life on hold to support him in advancing his career. His mother was getting older and rather than putting her in a seniors home, we made space in our home for. Our children were in secondary school and becoming more independent. I had registered two entities, retired from my career and just when I was starting to pursue my interests more, he walked out. Man was I angry. It has been a horrible journey but… I didn’t want to be angry anymore. It was costing me too much. I decided I would practice what I suggested to those I had worked with during their times of chaos and navigating their trauma. First, I put the blame where it belonged. Then I focused on me. I chose to believe I knew what was right for me. I started to listen to my heart more. Each day I did that, I found myself feeling like that little girl who thought anything was possible. After believing I wasn’t worthy, intelligent, and responsible, I decided to change my approach. M. Williamson’s poem, Our Deepest Fear started replacing those negative messages playing in my head. By doing that, I helped my children complete high school, and pursue their postsecondary, and other personal goals. I managed the financial responsibilities of maintaining our home, by myself. Albeit on a different level. I still was available to help families who reached out to me. In addition to enduring many personal challenges along this journey, I also completed four college diplomas, my undergrad, my masters and over thirty additional professional certifications and trainings. That’s what it means to believe in yourself. Overcoming challenges that seem insurmountable with grace and kindness.

What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Create a space where you feel safe. For me, that always begins with me and my energy. I need a space that has natural light and fresh air. I like to have my favourite things around. In my space you’ll find natural things I’ve gathered, and people have gifted me likes rocks, sand, and shells. There needs to be books, art supplies, music, comfy places to sit and meditate, tea, chocolate.
  2. Listen! Take time to listen with your heart. We talk but we rarely listen to what we are saying. Worse, we spend far more time listening to our minds and never enough time truly hearing what our heart and bodies are telling us. When we choose not to listen intently to the whispers of our bodies, our mind convinces us it our fault, we’re not doing enough, and ‘if I just push through…then I can take a break’. This is when we don’t get enough sleep, we begin to fight depression, and our body literally becomes ill.
  3. Ask to seek clarification. If I don’t understand something, I’m not as afraid to ask. You don’t want to be cleaning a bathroom floor because you were too embarrassed to ask what a bum gun is. By asking questions to seek clarification, you make more informed decisions too. Too often we will ask more questions on how to prepare a meal, but we won’t ask questions about decisions that impact our lives. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you feel comfortable you understand.
  4. Don’t give advice. People don’t always tell you the whole story. Giving advice can backfire on you and do nothing to help a person learn how to believe in themselves. When people ask me for advice, I ask them questions. For example, if a person asks me for advice about raising their child. Rather than say, “you should…” or “I would…” I would ask questions about their wishes for their child, what does their child like, how do you and your child think about…. As we talk through the questions, people will come up with their own advice.
  5. Acknowledge your accomplishments! This is huge. I do this daily. We think to do this we have to do something grand, but the small things we do for ourselves helps us get through the day. Here are just two of the things I do regularly. Some mornings, it’s all I can do to just get out of bed. So, when I do get out of bed, I will literally say, “Good job Carleana. I know how hard that was for you today.” This begins the process of changing the defeating messages we hear in our heads to more engaging messages that inspire us. Another thing I do every morning, make my bed. I went years without a bed. I love the bed I have. My bed is one of the best gifts I’ve given myself. Each morning I wrap my gift, make my bed. At the end of the day, I unwrap that gift. As I slip into my bed I celebrate my accomplishments of the day.

Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?

We have the power of choice. As I’ve answered the questions I’ve tried to demonstrate ways we can begin to change our internal dialogue. I’ve many metaphors to explain this, but I’ll use a garden. If we believe we reap what we sow, then we must believe a gardener has the power of choice. If the gardener nurtures their garden with love, flexibility, and compassion, they have a better chance of enjoying a beautiful garden throughout the year. A gardener knows there are things they can control and things they can’t. Going back to your question. Can we stop the negative stream of self-criticism? No, just like the gardener can’t stop the rain or sun. What we can do, is understand we are the masters of our lives (W. E. Henley). Often our self-criticism comes from external sources. I believe it was A. Einstein who wrote, “…if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. But if that fish chose to tell the monkey, “Put me back in the water” (A. Watts) not only will the fish switch the stream of internal self-criticizing messaging, but it will also establish and maintain an environment where it will grow and flourish. I’ve said many times, the heart whispers while the mind hollers.

Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?

Absolutely. People who invest in themselves, who are self-confident, and truly believe in themselves tend to have healthy boundaries. They tend to experience better mental health and overall well-being. They are happier in their lives and enjoy living. When people have set healthy boundaries for themselves, especially women, we judge them negatively. We make comments like they’re rude, who does she think she is, or he’s arrogant. This is when the negative stream of self-criticism gets planted. The mind is a funny thing.

We can hear a thousand compliments, but we dismiss them. Yet, if we hear one negative comment we put it on repeat in our heads as if it’s our favourite song. Our society is in a huge mental health crisis. Children are self-injuring. Suicide rates, for all ages (as young as four), continue to escalate. We must embrace the value of believing in ourselves. It is NOT a negative. That is the greatest misconception I would love to dispel.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?

I don’t give advice. The individual must have agency over their own choices, otherwise, they will never learn to believe in themselves or build their self-confidence. If someone is struggling with imposter syndrome and asked what they should do, I’d start the conversation by asking what imposter syndrome means to them. I’ve never met a single person who didn’t have some form of self-doubt now and again. Nor have I ever met a person who isn’t intelligent. With that in mind, I would invite them to start to focus on their accomplishments, specifically their individual resiliency and coping skills, and the things they enjoy, or used to enjoy. When you understand who you are and follow your desires, you’re not an imposter. This makes me think of a line in the story A Wrinkle in Time. Meg is doubting herself and doesn’t feel she has any value. Mrs. Which looks deeply into Meg and says, “Do you realize how many events, choices, that had to occur since the birth of the universe leading to the making of you just exactly the way you are? Think about that.” Seriously, think about it. When we struggle with imposter syndrome, it’s because we don’t feel we deserved to see ourselves as worthy. Worse we continuously compare ourselves to others, without knowing their story.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Oh boy!!!! That is a loaded question. My movement would begin by inviting people to look at life through a kaleidoscope, rather than I microscope. I would focus on our children, youth, and young adults. I’ve been supporting children and their families impacted by bullying for many years. I often hear older people ridicule the ‘kids today’, but as D. L. Nolte wrote, Children Live What They Learn. I’ve said many times, if you don’t like how a young person is behaving, look at the adults in their lives, and I don’t mean just their parents, but all the adults in their entire world. I would like to grow what I’ve already being doing through Artistically Speaking Out Against Bullying and It’s the Butterfly Effect Inc. Helping you find order in life’s chaos.

I’ve spent many years advocating for policy and legislative changes, often successfully. Successfully that is, on paper. But what good is a policy or law if it’s not enforced. I shifted my primary approach from advocating for change to helping those who’ve lost their way and want to get living again. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” People, not politicians, will bring about change. Perhaps I’d call the movement A.C.E. Me: I Accept the things life puts on my path with curiosity and a desire to understand.

I Celebrate with love the things I take for granted daily, being able to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. I Embrace everything about who I am, and all that I can be.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

…and I can only pick just one?

For me personally, I guess it would be a tie between Don Miguel Ruiz: His book The Four Agreements, literally changed my life, and Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honorable Roméo Dallaire: Not only because of his personal experience navigating trauma, but his quote about how important it is for decision makers to care for children.

I would love to speak with Keanu Reeves and Johnny Depp. They have had the courage to stand in their truths and overcome some amazing life challenges, behind the scenes even though they are in the public eye.

There are several individuals at UNICEF, WHO, and the UN, I’d like to speak with, specifically Canadian representatives. I’d love to know why Canada continues to be in the bottom percentile when it comes to our children enduring bullying. Then, I would welcome an opportunity to inspire tangible change to that stat.

Paulo Coelho is one of my favourite authors. I’ve read most every book he’s written. I remember saying to a co-worker, “One day I will meet this man” and so he’s someone I would like to sit at an outdoor café and talk with. His book The Pilgrimage inspired me to do my Camino de Santiago and The Alchemist, perhaps Coelho’s best-selling book, also had a great influence in my life.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful. I’m so excited to return to my passion work. I’ve so many new and wonderful ideas I believe will support many people as they rediscover their confidence, purpose, and self- worth.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Facebook. It’s not great, but it’s what I have active right now. I do have links for both Artistically Speaking Out Against Bullying and It’s the Butterfly Effect Inc. Helping you find order in life’s chaos. I do have a few blogs I was maintaining before my life fell into chaos. As I complete the projects I’m focusing on now, my websites will be updated. I’ll provide you with a few links of some projects I’ve been a part of. In the meantime, people can reach out to me through my personal Facebook or ASOAB’s Facebook page.

  • Carleana ~ A Soul Coach’s Journey: is a blog Carleana created in 2012, as she prepared for a pilgrimage in Spain, The Camino de Santiago. For the next several years, the blog follows Carleana as her life drastically changed.
  • Leap Fear — Day 7: Carleana was one of twenty-nine successful nominees included in photographer Anita Watkins’ tribute to her mother. The project #leapfear, introduces the view to women who have moved beyond their fears to be the women they were meant to be.
  • Healing Through Art Validating Art-based Practices to Establish and Maintain Mental Health and Well-being: Carleana believes, through the process of creating, healing can occur. This happens not only on a personal level but also as a society. While completing her Master of Art in Art Education, Carleana explores this concept further in her thesis.
  • It’s the Butterfly Effect Inc. Helping you find order in life’s chaos (ITBEInc.) is Carleana’s corporate business. Also founded in 2011, Carleana knew individuals were looking for different ways to find address the chaos in their lives. Adapting a mindful approach, ITBEInc. considers one’s life holistically. Rather than looking at parts of our lives through a microscope, Carleana invites us to see our lives through a kaleidoscope.
  • Artistically Speaking Out Against Bullying (ASOAB): is a non-profit organization founded by Carleana. In 2011, Carleana shifted her attention from an activism approach to bullying to a more direct hands-on approach that focuses on helping families impacted by bullying. Carleana merged her two interests, healthy children/family, and the arts to create this grassroots approach to bullying. Check ASOAB out of Facebook as well.
  • Our Children, our choice ~ Bulling: As an advocate and member of Society for Quality Education, Carleana was featured in this video talking about bullying in schools and the hurdles parents face.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you for this opportunity!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.