Image courtesy of University of North Carolina, School of Social Work
Written by Robert Daylin Brown, Ed.D.
I am currently in the first semester of my masters program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Pacific Oaks College. We have recently been studying the therapy models of pioneers in the field, and one of the most inspiring and influential therapists was Virginia Satir.
Virginia Satir was a family therapy pioneer. Her books Peoplemaking (1972) and The New Peoplemaking (1988) are considered classics in the family therapy field because they are grounded in a model of the family unit being an incubator for validation, self-worth, and love. At the heart of her work lies a call for people to gain greater awareness—an awareness of how family systems operate, an awareness of effective communication patterns, an awareness of how self-worth develops, and an awareness of self.
Satir theorized that almost all of our traumas and issues originate from the poor communication and poor self-esteem of our caregivers and loved ones during our childhood. For this reason, the development of strong communication skills and an even stronger self-esteem were foundations of her therapy work. Satir believed in the inherent goodness of people, and she was part of the Human Potential Movement in the 1970s, traveling worldwide helping people heal through the development of self-esteem and communication.
Many years ago, Virginia Satir was working with a fifteen-year-old girl named Maria in Palo Alto, California. According to Satir, Maria was an attractive and eager teenager, yet occasionally worried and angry. One spring afternoon, Maria asked Satir a question about the purpose of life, and Satir’s response was a poem that was written later that afternoon.
The poem is called “Self-Esteem” (although it now travels around the internet under the title “I Am Me”. Enjoy the poem below, read it slowly, and allow it to simmer in your mind this week.
by Virginia Satir
I AM ME
In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me
Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fantasies,
My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me – However I
Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
People and things outside of me – I own me, and
therefore I can engineer me – I am me and
I AM OKAY
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