I’ve been quiet for a few days haven’t I? I’m still here but focusing on me and The Book!
I’ve been mulling over something I studied a while back and fancied sharing it with you 🌸
I recall a test in which we participated during our 12-week self-esteem course (I say ‘we’ .. that’s myself and seven other women who had qualified for this course having done the Freedom Programme at my local Womens Aid centre).
The amazing volunteer leader who stood at the front had six sheets of different coloured A4 paper. She held up the white sheet.
‘This represents me; my self esteem, which is extremely good.’
(immediately she said this, I curled my toes with embarrassment – how could anyone be that self assured … but I hadn’t completed the course had I)
‘This red piece of paper represents my husband – and when you do this, I want you to imagine it represents the person, partner, parent, child who has bullied you. I carry no worries about my husband’s connection to me; we love each other as equals, respect each other and hence he causes me no negative self–esteem issues and I can therefore place this piece of red paper next to my white one. Close to it, but not covering up or hiding any of the white… like that.‘ and she placed it on the table in front of her, touching the white piece down the long side, and as we watched, one of the more mature women suddenly spoke up,
‘Like it compliments your piece?’
‘Exactly!’ enthused the leader. Next she took a green piece and held it up.
‘This represents my children. I have two teenagers, one doing GCSEs later this summer, so right now I am giving her all the extra time she needs me to, in order that she feels supported. There is an undercurrent of concern but no negativity. I, we chose to have the children and knew there would be times when more attention would be needed from us for them, so for now, I shall place this green sheet covering … oooh … about 20% of the white. Like that.’ We watched.
Then a purple piece ..
‘This represents my work here, so my job. I know what is expected of me in my hours of work and my self esteem is so good, that if I am given more than I can cope with, I inform the boss that I need extra time or extra help, immediately alleviating the worries and stresses which might build if I elected not to say anything. So this piece also takes nothing negative from me, only the effort required that the hours I am obliged to give it… therefore I place it also next to this white sheet … let’s pop it along the top here.’
She did the same with orange for friends, explaining that if a friendship had become negative, one-sided, or toxic, she now walked away from them. Life was too short to surround herself with negative people, just because they’ve been friends ‘for years’. The same with a yellow piece for parents and extended family members and the task was complete.
It was the most inspiring demonstration I’d ever witnessed. Then it was our turn.
On finishing, I realised I was one of the luckier ones.
I still had a third of my white paper showing. One girl, whose leg was broken when her partner stamped on it when she fell on the staircase when he pushed her, and who had not spoken for the first four weeks of the Freedom Programme meetings, had her white covered almost entirely by the red sheet, so scared was she of her partner’s imminent release from prison.
Another women, whose adult daughter bullies her and prevents her from seeing her grandchildren had over half of her white sheet covered by green.
And so it went on….
Now YOU do it!
A year on, I can honestly say if I did the experiment again, I would have 95% of my white sheet visible. I can’t explain the difference I feel about so many things. The counselling was a lifeline out of a quietly building depression and I am so grateful to the volunteers of the Womens Aid groups … and most towns have them, so if you feel overwhelmed by events in your life, seek their help. xx