Best & Anti Self: Building Skills at CRCF
Every Friday, Heather Newcomb, Work Readiness Program Manager at VWW, leads skill-building classes for women who are incarcerated at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF). Last week, participants learned about Mike Bayer’s #BestSelfChallenge, a fun and easy exercise in which you define your Best Self (all of the positive attributes and qualities that make up the core of who you are; i.e.- compassionate, brave, loyal, loving, creative) and your Anti Self (your inner critic, that provokes you and that gets in the way of your Best Self by focusing on negative qualities; i.e.- fearful, doubtful, anxious, angry), in a side-by-side drawing.
Heather started the class by asking participants to silently visualize their Best and Anti Selves, each of their qualities, interests, and unique behaviors. Soon after, the class captured their thoughts on paper using a combination of pictures, words, and symbols. “They were fully engaged with this artistic lesson and their pictures reflect amazing honesty and personal insight,” said Heather.
The pictures became a catalyst for deeper discussion, exchanging personal struggles, and strategies for managing anti-self behaviors. It is often our nature to identify with our weaknesses rather than strengths, which is why the simple act of writing skills and positive qualities can become an act of ownership. Heather shared that VWW’s work in the prison “isn’t always about learning new skills, rather discovering the skills you already possess.”
Participants at CRCF granted VWW permission to share their mini-self portraits with our community. They hope their pictures will inspire others to take the challenge. For security and privacy, Vermont Works for Women is not permitted to take cameras into the prison, making this moment particularly special.
Vermont Works for Women would like to thank the women who participated in this class for their bravery, honesty, and creativity. Build Your Skills at CRCF is a weekly class for women incarcerated at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. Lessons span a wide variety of personal and professional development topics. You can help woman build skills and prepare for life beyond bars by donating now to Vermont Works for Women.