Breaking Free - 4 week programme at WimbleTech

Breaking Free - 4 week programme at WimbleTech

Go Inspire UK

4-Week Workshop

Breaking Free

Reclaiming your life


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 1: Breaking Free of Shackles – Reclaiming Expectations (2 hours)

Phase 1: 45 minutes

Introductions: 15-20 minutes

Introducing Go Inspire, facilitators, group introduction

Introducing the workshop – why it’s called breaking free, what is the aim

Introducing the agenda – identifying societal and cultural constructs we live within, all the expectations and pressures put on us, the weight of responsibility; setting down the weight, identifying what we want our roles in life to look like, reclaiming them, tea break, sharing circle

Activity 1: Reflection: 15 minutes

Identifying the different roles in our lives: being a woman, mother, wife, etc.

What have we been taught about these roles and how we need to behave?

How do we feel emotionally and in our bodies when we think about these responsibilities and expectations others have of us?

Pick 3-5 roles and identify the ‘shackles’ that you feel are holding you back. E.g., a woman should be demure, not too loud, not too opinionated, etc.

Activity 2: Drawing: 10 minutes

Draw a representation of what it’s like to be burdened by these rules and expectations

Tea break: 15 minutes

Phase 2: 60 minutes

Activity 3: Reflection: 10 minutes

What would we like for these roles to look like? E.g. a woman has the freedom to make her own choices and is respected for what she chooses, a mother knows what’s best for her child, a wife is allowed to delegate more work to her husband

How do we feel emotionally and in our bodies when we think about this ideal version of things?

Activity 4: Drawing: 10 minutes

Drawing a representation of what we want expectations to look and feel like

Activity 5: Breaking Free Meditation: 10 minutes

Tense your muscles, imagine all the heaviness of responsibilities and expectations weighing down on you as though you’re carrying tons

Progressive muscle relaxation: slowly begin relaxing; starting from the head, relax each muscle. Exhale and let the weight and shackles fall off. Inhale and set the expectations we want for ourselves. Exhale the burden of responsibilities, inhale the empowerment of reclaiming these roles, and so on.

Psychoeducation/sharing: 15 minutes

Group feeds back their experience of the activity

Sanchita explains how internalisation of expectations is one of the main reasons for low self-esteem and low confidence. How we are taught to believe that we are only deserving of love, respect, and acknowledgement if we conform to others’ ideas of what a woman should be like in specific roles. This makes it harder to break free of them, because we are taught to fear the consequences of disobedience. We are taught that the greatest woman is one who is self-sacrificing and a superwoman who can do everything. But the truth is, this is a lie. The beauty of empowerment is its reciprocity. If I empower you, I’m in turn getting empowered by that. Imagine if the world was full of empowered woman. A patriarchal society doesn’t want that, so we’re taught that we need to sacrifice and overwork ourselves so we never try to be empowered or rebel. But think about it this way: if you are empowered, if you are relaxed and not stressed, how much more can you give back to your family and the world? You cannot give from an empty reserve. You need to replenish the reservoir within you first so you can give to others.

Group shares

Wrapping up: 5 minutes

Week 2: Breaking Free of Judgement – Reclaiming Love (2 hours)

Phase 1: 60 minutes

Introductions: 5 minutes

Introducing Go Inspire and facilitators briefly, group introduction

Introducing agenda: identifying judgements we have been labeled with all our lives, group activity of breaking free of the judgements, meditation to reclaim love and affirmations, tea break, sharing circle

Activity 1: Reflection: 15 minutes

Writing down what are some judgements we have experienced and labels we have been given? Example, too loud, too fat, too thin, too opinionated, not good enough

How did we feel when receiving these judgements? Did we ever feel deserving of them?

Have we internalised these judgements and believe them of ourselves or struggle to break free of them? Which ones specifically do we struggle with?

How do we feel emotionally and in our bodies when we think about these judgements?

What would we like to think about ourselves instead of these judgements? What phrases of love and affirmations can we use to describe ourselves?

Activity 2: Post-it Note Roulette: 30 minutes

Pair up

On 5 different post-it notes write 5 different judgements you are struggling to break free from – 5minutes

Stick them on your torso and legs (leave your arms free)

Turn to your partner and let them read the judgements

Now write 5 affirmations to your partner of your impression of them that you genuinely feel about them on 5 post-it notes. Example, has kind eyes, has a gentle smile, seems really honest etc – 5 minutes

Don’t show your partners the affirmations yet. Keep them to yourselves.

First, take 5 minutes each to talk about the judgements you have placed on yourself and what they mean to you/your experiences of them – 10 mins

Once both of you have had a turn, give each other the affirmations and stick them on your arms where both you and your partner can see them

Each of you take 5 minutes explaining why you wrote those affirmations and believe that of the other person – 10 mins

Give each other a big hug

Psychoeducation/sharing: 10 minutes

Sanchita explains the importance of affirmations and how the brain learns to be more affirming, her own experience with teaching herself to be kind to herself, and how to get people to tell you what you need to hear + the importance of it

Group shares their experience

Tea break: 15 minutes

Phase 2: 45 minutes

Activity 1: Reflections: 15 minutes

How easy/hard was it for you to accept the affirmations your partner gave you in the previous activity? On a scale of 0-100?

What specifically prevented you from fully accepting them? What are some of the feelings that came up?

When you saw your partner’s judgements, what were your first thoughts/feelings?

When you wrote affirmations for them, what were your thoughts/feelings?

Now if you took a moment to swap it around, and whatever you wrote/said about your partner’s affirmations was the attitude you met yourself with, what would that be like?

Activity 2: Meditation: 15 minutes

Stick the judgements on your torso/legs again, affirmations on your arms

Breathing to regulate

Notice the judgements on our body. Imagine they feel hot on every point the post-it note is. You are hyper aware of these judgements and the feelings they bring up on you

Slowly peel them off and hold them in your hands. Allow all the unhelpful emotions you may have about these judgements to seep into those notes. From all over your body, imagine hot water gushing into your hands. It’s hot, but not burning. These judgements have the potential to burn you if you hold onto them for too long, but if you set them down before they do, they can’t harm you.

Set down the judgements. If you notice any thoughts or emotions come up, that’s alright. Notice them, then refocus to my voice and your breathing.

Breathe again, and this time picture the affirmations on your arms. Let those points be warm and gentle. Embrace your arms around you and allow the warmth from the affirmations seep into you. From head to toe, allow yourself to absorb these affirmations.

In your mind or out loud, say the affirmations to yourself. I am… Say them as many times as you would like.

The affirmations feel like a warm hug. Notice that you are the one giving yourself this warm hug, that you are fully capable of making yourself feel so warm and loved and don’t need to seek it externally

Say, I choose to believe in these affirmations. I choose to hold onto them and accept them because they are mine. I deserve to believe that I am… say the affirmations to yourself. I am allowed to let go of the judgements and hold onto the affirmations instead. I am… say the affirmations again. Finally, say, I love you. I’m here for you. Always. Through thick and thin. I’ve got your back. I will pick you up when you fall down. Then say, I am okay. I will be okay.

Breathe deeply, allow yourself to feel grounded, let your body relax

When you’re ready, open your eyes

Psychoeducation/sharing: 10 minutes

Group feedback

Reinforcing earlier pscho-ed

Group sharing

Wrapping up: 5 minutes

Week 3: Breaking Free of Pain – Reclaiming Joy (2 hours)

Phase 1: 60 minutes

Introduction: 5 minutes

Introducing Go Inspire and facilitators briefly, group introduction

Introducing agenda: art and craft activity, grounding exercise, reflecting on painful experiences, group pain mask activity,

Activity 1: Mask Making: 10 minutes

Make a mask of any shape, cut out eye holes but not a mouth hole

This mask represents the face of pain. Draw/colour onto it how you would like to represent painful experiences and memories. Frowning eyebrows, crying eyes, sad mouth, etc. Can be as abstract as you want it to be

Set mask aside

Activity 2: Grounding in preparation: 5 minutes

Deep breaths

Feel your body on the ground, focus on every point where your body touches the ground. Allow it to support your weight. Feel held and supported

Remember that you are safe here. You can share however much or little of your pain that feels safe to share. It will be received and held with love and care. There is no judgement in this circle, and we are all here to hold each others’ experiences and help each other feel seen and heard

Open eyes when you feel ready

Activity 3: Pair Work: 15 minutes

Pair off (1-2)

Each person shares for 5 minutes a painful experience. ONLY share something that feels manageable, and not something that’s too painful or traumatic as we want to do this in a safe and contained way. Bring a real experience so it can be authentic

The other person tries to empathise as much as they can and relate to the pain. The listener will be affirming and help the speaker hold the pain

Swap after 5 minutes and the other person does the same for 5 mins

Big hug (optional)

Activity 4: Grounding exercise to regulate: 5 minutes

Activity 5: Pain Mask + grounding: 15 minutes

That was probably hard to do. You’re all very brave for being willing to sit with the pain

This next activity requires some bravery as well.

We’re going to hold the pain masks up to our faces and look around at each other.

All the feelings we shared earlier, this is what they would look like if we wore our pain on our faces all the time. But we don’t. We’re so good at hiding the pain and never letting it be known

But right now, we’re going to look at that pain. Really look at it so everyone’s pain feels seen and acknowledged. We’re all here collectively to hold each other’s pain

Now let’s really imbue all of the pain into the mask. All those emotions, let it flow into the mask. Imagine it leaving your body and filling the mask up. You don’t have to hold back; the mask can hold all of your pain

Don’t forget to breathe throughout it all.

Hold the mask in your hands and look down at it. As a group, let’s say aloud to our pain, “I see you. I see your pain. It looks like it hurts. It looks really painful and heavy. I won’t look away because you deserve to be seen. You deserve to be heard and held. I’m here to hold you with open arms.”

Then we set the pain down, inhale deeply and exhale a few times. Every time you exhale, let that heaviness and pain flow into the mask.

You’re allowed to set the pain down. It’s safe where you’ve left it. If you need to come back to it at any point, it’s always there waiting for you. But you don’t have to carry it around everywhere you ago. Let’s choose to set down our pain for now, at least until the end of this session

Deep breaths, breathe into any tension, consciously drop shoulders, relax jaw, relax posture

If chest or throat feels tight, breathe into it and remember that you’re safe, you’re okay, you’ll be alright. Repeat those words to yourself if you need to

Breathe for a few more moments and focus again on the ground where you’re sitting, the points of contact, and let it hold you and your emotions

Once you feel calmer, open your eyes. Drink water etc

Look around at the group. Look at all those gorgeous faces now that we’ve set the pain down. Give everyone a big clap for the courage and compassion

Sharing circle: 5 minutes

Tea break: 15 minutes

Phase 2: 45 minutes

Activity 6: Pain vs values: 10 minutes

On a sheet of paper, the middle, write down 3 things you value that bring you joy. In a few words

On the back, right behind the values, write the obstacles in the way of your joy, such as pain, fear, shame, etc

Now fold the paper in half exactly in the middle of the writing

I want you to rip through the pain away and leave the joy and values intact

You can’t do it

Metaphor: the joy is in this gated area, and you have to pay a price for the admission ticket to get inside. Do you want to go inside where all the good, amazing stuff is? Yes. Well, what if I tell you the price of the ticket is the pain. Are you still willing to experience the pain, if that’s what it costs to get to the place of happiness? We can deal with the pain when it comes up, as we did before. But if you choose to avoid the pain, that means you’re denying yourself access to all the happiness beyond. Is that a sacrifice you’re willing to make?

Activity 7: Sharing: 10 minutes

Anyone wants to share a time they were afraid they would get hurt if they did something but did it anyway and overcame the pain? For example, afraid of getting into a relationship, some anxiety about attending the workshop and sharing. But you did it anyway.

Moral: pain is the cost of happiness, and it takes courage to pay that price, but it’s worth it every time

Psychoeducation about pain + discussion: 20 minutes

Sanchita explains how we think we’re saving ourselves from the pain by avoiding it or suppressing it or pretending it isn’t there, but that only makes it last longer

The way to deal with pain is by looking at it directly in the eyes and taking a very compassionate and gentle attitude like we did before

We accept the pain because it is a feeling and all feelings are meant to be felt, the good and the bad

What would you do if you saw a crying baby or baby animal? (group answers) you would say oh no you’re sad, let me give you a big cuddle and make you feel better. You could just abandon it and let it cry itself out, but what we then teach it is that its pain is not valid and doesn’t deserve acknowledgement, when it absolutely does

So we sit with our pain, we acknowledge it, we remember that it’s worth it because at the end there is so much joy, we do some breathing and validating like we did before, and then we set it down gently and do something that we know will make us feel better. For example, the tea break was strategically placed there because it was meant to allow you to set your pain down then choose another activity that you know will make you feel better.

The pain may still come up, thoughts and worries will still pop up, but that’s okay. We just need to tell them, I hear you, your concerns are a 100% valid, but I’m drinking tea/going for a walk, having a shower etc right now, and I’m allowed to do that, so I’m going to come back to you later

Later, when you feel better and feel ready to sit and have a chat with pain, you can

Writing things down like we’ve been doing the past few weeks is a great way to reflect on pain and give you perspective


Wrapping up: 5 minutes

Week 4: Breaking Free of Stress and Anxiety – Reclaiming Calmness (2 hours)

Phase 1: 70 minutes

Introduction: 5 minutes

Activity 1: Reflection: 15 minutes

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you feel you generally handle stress?

On a scale of 1-10, how often do you find yourself stressed/anxious/worrying?

Do you find it hard to fall sleep at night because your mind is buzzing with worries? What are some of these worries?

What are some strategies or techniques you have used/know of to help manage stress?

How many of you would like some tips to manage stress/anxiety/worrying better?

Activity 2: Anxiety graph psychoeducation: 15 minutes

Explaining how anxiety and worry works

Tracking symptoms of anxiety and worry: thoughts, feelings, physical sensations

Activity 3: Tracking stress/anxiety: 15 minutes

What is a recent stressful experience that you experienced?

Mention what emotions you remember feeling, what your thoughts/worries were, and what physical sensations you experienced.

What happened before you started feeling stressed that may have triggered it (look at your graph. What happened around you when you were having lower level symptoms that may have triggered/escalated the stress/anxiety)?

What was your first reaction to the triggering situation? What were some initial thoughts/feelings that came up?

What did you do to manage the stress?

Did it help? Was it a short-term solution but the stress occurred again?

In a day, when do you find yourself worrying/thinking a lot most often, how many times in a day (write time of day)? What were you doing around that time?

Is there a pattern to the things you do to avoid/stop feeling stressed/anxious?

Activity 4: White Bear Syndrome + mindfulness: 15 minutes

Don’t think about the stressful event you’ve been writing about so far

Explaining how not thinking = thinking

Psychoeducation about avoidance, distracting, procrastinating, seeking reassurance

Psychoeducation about mindfulness – what it is, why it’s helpful

Activity 5: Mindfulness activity of drinking tea: 5 minutes

Tea break: 15 minutes

Phase 2: 30 minutes

Open discussion/sharing circle: 20 minutes

Bringing together all the things we’ve practiced in the past 3 weeks and consolidating how they’re relevant to most things and useful in any way.

Some tools: journaling, exercise, mindful breathing/walking/activities, increasing pleasurable activities, practicing being present, validating/normalizing the worries, self-soothing box, other resources

Questions, sharing experiences

Wrapping up: 10 minutes