Key lessons I learnt at Scarlet Self: Freedom from Shame PART I

For a long time I have felt that I could benefit from some counselling. My self-esteem is not as good as it could by (by far!) and I sometimes feel I am not living my best life. But going from occasionally thinking “I could do with some counselling” to actually seeking out such counselling is a big step. Especially for me, as I was raised to think that mental health is just a matter of “getting on with it”. So when I heard about the Scarlet Self series, a 12 month development workshop created and run by the Scarlet Ladies, I jumped on the chance. I signed up for the first two sessions right away.

Scarlet Self is run by Sarah, one of the founding ladies of Scarlet Ladies. The workshops are held once a month for 12 months and are based on Scarlet Ladies’ FIERCE values. FIERCE stands for Freedom, Inspiration, Esteem, Respect, Courage, Enjoyment. The first workshop would be focused on Freedom and was titled Finding Your Sexual Freedom: Part 1, Freedom from Shame.

It wasn’t difficult for me to make the decision: the workshop would be for women only, be led by Sarah, someone I know, like and trust, and would only be for Scarlet Ladies members, a number of which I knew. It also didn’t feel as intimidating as “counselling”, and who wouldn’t want to develop their skills and personalities more?

Having said that, I was still very nervous when I climbed the steps of 23 Paul Street to the home of Scarlet Ladies. I had no idea what to expect. And of course my anxiety kicked in, making me wonder if I was actually worthy to participate in this development workshop. What if I didn’t know the correct responses or I froze up? What if I was too nervous to contribute?

I needn’t have worried. Sarah instantly made me feel at ease. I love listening to her voice, which was good because she did most of the talking. I had brought a pen and paper with me, as I was told that we would be taking notes. I ended up taking so many notes, I will have to bring a bigger notebook next time.

The session was informal and relaxed. There was one part where we had to get up and do an activity, which I was not overly excited about, and I don’t think I was the only one. I think it’s always a bit daunting to have to do an activity in a group of people who you don’t know very well, but the exercise did clearly put across one of the points Sarah wanted to make, so it was definitely effective.

The workshop lasted for about an hour. On my way to Scarlet Self I was worried that I would hate it. Not based on anything concrete, but that’s just how my self-doubting brain works. I try not to get my hopes up about something so I can’t be disappointed. I should have had more confidence in both Sarah and myself. The hour flew past and when Sarah announced the last questions, I was sad that it was coming to an end.

Sarah advised us to continue what we learned in the workshop at home, during the week. I found myself mulling things over in the coming days, writing more answers to her questions. When we began, I was a little confused. The title of the workshop had led me to believe that we were going to look exclusively at shame from a sexual point of view, but the workshop was much broader than that. It dealt with all types of negative thinking that brings us down and diminishes us. It was great to identify these thoughts in my own life, and try to counteract them. I won’t say that this one workshop has completely changed my life, but it has opened my eyes to some ugly truths in my life and it has exposed some bad habits that I should change.

Overall I found the Scarlet Self workshop powerful and empowering. Sarah is a great coach who gently, but firmly pushed me to expose some darker corners of my mind. Throughout the session you could feel the love and peace radiating from her. Her voice was soothing and I never felt uncomfortable, even though such close self-examination is far from easy. She made sure that I didn’t dwell too much on the negative, but made me acknowledge the areas in my life where shame pushed me down.

I am looking forward to my next workshop and can imagine becoming a stronger, more empowered woman by the end of the series.

Members Read Part 2 here

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