Live more freely with Virginia Satir’s Five Freedoms

Virginia Satir was an influential American author and psychotherapist, respected for her innovative approach to family therapy during from the 1950s onwards. Her pioneering work led to her nickname, the Mother of Family Therapy.

Virginia believed in living more freely, giving ourselves permission to take hold of five key freedoms, and taking responsibility for our reactions and responses. To take hold of them without worrying too much about what other people think.

It’s a liberating idea. If you’d like to feel freer, express yourself with more integrity and honesty, and feel the pleasure of being true to yourself, these freedom keys can help you.

Here’s an introduction to Satir’s five freedoms.

5 freedoms to liberate your self

The 5 freedoms reveal the things we all have the choice to do, although we might not always know it. Accessing them can support you in living a freer life. How many of these do you already achieve, and which aspects are you more caught up by?

The Freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be

It’s a very human thing to do, but it isn’t helpful. If you have ever pretended all is well when it clearly isn’t, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s about avoiding conflict, other times you just want to steer clear of an uncomfortable situation or subject.

It’s much better for you to acknowledge what is going on. To know your own reality, especially when it’s not comfortable. It’s pointless wishing things were different. Reality is the way things are, not what you or someone else thinks it should be. You can’t handle your difficulties very well when you’re not seeing life as it truly is.

You’ll probably find it’s a relief to give up the fantasy and face reality, even if reality isn’t 100% great.

The freedom to say what one feels and thinks instead of what one should

Are you sometimes paralysed by worries about what other people think about you? Are you a person who wants other people’s approval? If so it’s hard to get a clear picture of what it means to be yourself.

In Satir’s world we all have the right to be ourselves all of the time. Expressing our thoughts and feelings honestly and openly is right at the heart of what it means to be her to be authentic.

The freedom to feel what one feels, instead of what one ought

Some think our feelings should be suppressed. Others believe emotions are messy, confusing things that we should be able to ignore. But humans are hard wired for emotions, and feelings plays a critical part in millions of years of survival. When you refuse to acknowledge or accept the way you’re feeling, it harms your wellbeing.

If you’ve ever felt your feelings are bad, confusing or irrelevant, stop judging yourself so harshly. Let the feelings flow, accept them, harness them, handle them, get the most out of them. It’s all part of life’s rich shades of complexity.

The freedom to ask for what one wants, instead of always waiting for permission

“You’ll get what you’re given.” It’s a mealy-mouthed old saying, hinting that whatever you are given is all you’re worth, even when it isn’t enough or leaves you unfulfilled.

We all deserve to have our most important needs met. And we’re allowed to go in search of whatever it is without question. At the same time, unless you make your needs clear other people can’t guess what you want. And the same goes when your needs are met – how can anyone know they’ve hit the right mark if you don’t tell them? Once you master it, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

Expressing your needs does not give you the right to act in a demanding way though. Expressing what you want does not always mean that you get your needs met. It is far healthier to speak up for yourself and can make it easier for those around you. They know where they stand with you.

The freedom to take risks in one’s own behalf, instead of choosing to be only ‘secure’ and not rocking the boat

Humans are made to take some risks. An element of risk fires our imagination, helps us invent new things and find fresh solutions. Are you living the life you want to live, a life that feels like it’s going somewhere? Or are you stopping yourself taking risks because you want to please other people?

We grow and thrive by taking thought-through risks, large and small. How do you know the limits of your capabilities unless you try to break them? Risk taking demands courage and resilience, both of which are good for us. If you take a risk and fail, you end up stronger. OK, so you’ve failed. But you have also learned.

When you learn to express yourself more freely, you own who you and what you feel and think. When you are realistic, experience emotions honestly, ask for the things you need, and take the risks that add some sparkle to life, you can access more vitality and confidence.

The 5 freedoms and vitality

As a career professional, you can benefit from making Virginia Satir’s five freedoms part of your working life. If you’d to like to set up some coaching to explore how they can support you and enhance your confidence, do get in touch.