Wisdom from A Children’s Detective on Parents – Virginia Satir
True Stories Being with Virginia as told by Dr. Mary Jo Bulbrook, Colleague & Friend
The classic book The New Peoplemaking written by Virginia in 1988 acclaims:
“When I was five, I decided that when I grew up I’d be a ‘Children’s detective on parents.’ I didn’t quite know what I would look for, but I realized a lot when on in families that didn’t meet the eye. There were a lot of puzzles I did not know how to understand.”1
This first blog highlighting some of what Virginia found that will help you – Become All You Can Be!
What was it like growing up in your family?
Did you know that what you are today, has been greatly influenced by your interaction in your family while growing up? That fact means that a lot of what you do and did has been shaped by others out of your conscious awareness. This blog is written to help you reexamine some of those influences and reshape your destiny today… so that you can be back in the driver seat and in control of your life journey.
I am going to give you some questions to explore today or at another time when you examine your earliest memories of what it was like being in your family. Think back at the first memory you are aware of in your family. How old were you? Who is in this picture? Mom, Dad, Siblings? Where are you? What is each person saying and doing in the scene? How are you feeling as you watch this scene? Do you remember what you were thinking at the time? How about do you have any clues to how this scene that you are remembering is influencing you today? What do you like about this associated memory? Is there something you wish to change in your life that perhaps you can link to this memory?
Virginia and I were colleagues and friends… a story of our meeting and friendship over 16 years has been highlighted in other written articles by me over the years while today I want to share the “basics” of the Satir method of change, healing and growth. Her professional career was as a therapist and educator helping individual and families change using a unique way of working with people helping them become all they can be rather than the disease therapy model of her day. She wrote a chapter in a book I edited called communication and contact.2
Alleviating pain and changing behavior was her goal in her work with others. However, she was most interested in helping the individual “to become aware of a whole person and with options at his or her disposal. I call this ‘creative coping.”2
As we look at our lives, look at our choices that we make, spending time examining how the hidden parts of our psyche can enlighten and unburden us to become all we want to be free from the unwanted energies that shaped who we are today. Simply stated: examine our family dynamics – how we communicated and making contact with each other to see what is there that holds in place our feeling ok or not ok in who we are.
The iceberg model illustrated that on the surface is what we show to the world. What is below the surface influences who we are and can become. This fact is best illustrated in this picture from a presentation I did at the 100 birthday celebration of Virginia’s life at a conference held by the Satir Institute of the Pacific in Vancouver, BC Canada in June 2016:
She identified 5 ways of communicating in families. They are: healthy ways or congruence, blaming, placating, super reasonable and irrelevancy.
Descriptions of these five communication stances she had become well known for are as follows as reported in a recent article I wrote and updated in my classes that I teach through Energy Medicine Partnerships.
As you review each of the five communication stances, which one was present in the exercise #1? Think of how each person in your scene was communicating in your family in this scene. What choices were made that influenced who you are today? Think about it and know that you can change the dynamics of your life and replace outdated patterns of communication with congruent of leveler communication stances as illustrated below:
Virginia helped individual and families change. Her goal was to support clear communication and help relationships to be easy, free with self esteem high for each person.
As each could say what they needed to without blaming, placating, being irrelevant (distractor) or super reasonable (thinker) then true choice would be made that reflect each persons true need and desire for their life.
Becoming free and becoming all we can be is intimately tied into our communication patterns.
The five freedoms presented during my teaching at Tu Ser Mystico in Lima, Peru in October 2016. They are classic to the Satir teaching and are listed here below for your reference and reflection:
As you see the five freedoms examine each one in the exercise below and explore how you are right on target with your life or perhaps desire to change something to become more full free and all you can be with choices that reflect important values in your life.
Examine the following and be truthful with yourself:
- Do you see and hear what is here?
- Do you say what you feel and think?
- Do you feel what you feel?
- Do you ask for what you want?
- Do you take risks in your own behalf?
When you can say YES to these five freedoms… then you will be able to become all you can be and live a satisfying and full live where as a human you are validated for being you not living up to someone else’s expectations!
1 Satir, V. (1988). The new peoplemaking. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.
2 Satir, V.(1980). Communication and Contact in Bulbrook, MJ. Development of Therapeutic Skills. Boston: Little Brown Company. pps. 15 – 20.
3Bulbrook, MJ, (Sept. 2016). Presentation at the ISSSEEM Conference, “The Virginia Satir Transformational SEED Model: A Spiritual / Energy / Efficient / Diplomat Model & Theoretical System for Helping Individuals, Families, Communities & Organizations, Change, Grow and Healing 0 Becoming All They Can Be.
4Banman, J (2016) used with permission from John Banmen, Jane Gerber, Maria Gomori, (1991) The Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond. Palo Alto, CA 1991. Science & Behavior Books.