JJunction’s Leone Hersh chats to Caroline Lewis founder of S.E.L.F.
What started as a mother’s proactive effort to support her teenage daughter’s struggle with “awful peer pressure, bitchiness and tears after school” has blossomed into a life skills and empowerment program for women, known as The SELF Program.
The teen years are unavoidably all about self-discovery and self-development, and as Caroline Lewis, founder of The SELF Program explains when asked why she chose the name SELF, “Teens love talking about themselves. But I also created the SELF acronym of Strength. Empowerment. Love. Friendship. which resonates with so many people. So I named my business The SELF Project as we are all a continuing work in progress!”
With nearly 25 years of personal and professional experience in mentoring and counselling, Caroline created The SELF Program with the aim of empowering women of all ages to become the best, most loving and accountable version of themselves they can be, in any given circumstance.
Some circumstances can be more challenging than others, as Caroline can attest. “I have been able to help empower domestic violence victims to finally take control of their life, their finances, their body and their mind with confidence, determination and pride.”
Of course, prevention is always better, and less painful, than cure!
 “I want to prevent bad relationships happening before they take hold. Teaching girls to own and accept their bodies, not do things they don’t want to with them, manage their own finances so they are self-reliant and self-susta
ining, help them communicate with assertiveness so they remain in control and not tolerate an aggressive or violent relationship. These are all things that make me wake up in the morning!”
The SELF program’s holistic approach means participants learn to identify and honour all of the many aspects that make them worthy and valued individuals. “We begin by helping the girls understand they are not ‘just their face’, nor ‘just their maths test result’ for example.”
Through the use of positive psychology and healthy SELF-words and statements participants come to recognise, appreciate and build on their strengths, while working on their weaknesses. They are shown how to identify and be guided by their core values as well as how to understand what really motivates their healthy and not-so-healthy decisions.
As expected, there are lessons about self-awareness, self-care, self-motivation and self-confidence, to mention but a few. However, it is the inclusion of lessons about self-containment and selflessness that ensure the program’s balanced, realistic approach. The participants learn the concept of personal responsibility and giving back through Caroline’s personal example of donating ten percent of her fees to a charity she and the participants choose together at the end of each program.
Caroline is obviously passionate about creating wonderful relationships through great communication. Through The SELF Program she is empowering women of all ages, and stages, to develop healthy, loving, honest and authentic relationships with themselves, their families, their friends, and potentially anyone they interact with in life.
“It’s not just about self-respect. I focus equally on how to show respect for others. Everyone needs to know how to treat others as well as how they let others treat them.”
In fact, as she celebrates 31 years of marriage this week – Mazal tov –  Caroline says respect is the most important aspect of a good relationship. “Mutual respect and space.”
What else does she advise for making relationships work?

Having shared values, practising the art of compromise, developing good listening skills, assertively communicating your wish to achieve a win/win outcome, learning to understand and be honest about your own emotions; in fact, all the relationship skills offered in The SELF Program!!

 

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Caroline Lewis
For more details and to contact Caroline