From time immemorial, every generation has their leaders and teachers. Some extraordinary; others less. Many passed before their time, leaving followers to so often wonder, “What if?”
What if Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or John Kennedy lived? Or David, Moses, Hillel, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, Mao, or Kao-Tsu? How would Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln have addressed the challenges of the day? What leadership or wisdom would Marcus Aurelius, Augusta Caesar, or Epicurus have offered?
Virginia Satir, who died 22 years ago today, was such a teacher. While she lived to the age of 72, she left our world before her work was done. Yet the seeds she planted during a lifetime of exploration and discovery, decades of learning, shaping and sharing, brought immense healing to people of all ages and cultures; to couples, singles, and families alike, along with millions of children who are unlikely to ever know her name.
More than two decades after her death, I suspect Virginia Satir’s understanding of human connection, yearnings, and the universal mysteries of love remain unparalleled, as is the confidence with which she embraced an intuitive nature that wasn’t afraid to reach out, to touch, and to powerfully share timeless truths longing to be known.
As with all great visionaries, those who loved and admired Virginia Satir have struggled to interpret, build upon, and continue her work.
While her genius reveals itself in many of the writings and lectures she left behind, none fully capture the spirit of Virginia Satir that continues to profoundly touch my life and many others decades after our last meeting.
On this 22nd anniversary of her passing, during a period of continued searching and turmoil in worlds hungering to be known, the wisdom of the Five Freedoms she wished and prayed for each of us remains a lasting gift.
Virginia Satir’s Five Freedoms
- The Freedom to see and hear what is here instead of what should be, was, or will be.
- The Freedom to say what one feels and thinks instead of what one should.
- The Freedom to feel what one feels, instead of what one ought to.
- The Freedom to ask for what one wants, instead of always waiting for permission.
- The Freedom to take risks in one’s own behalf, instead of choosing to be only ‘secure’ and not rocking the boat.
Many of Virginia Satir’s most significant lessons are woven throughout PAIRS classes that regularly help thousands of couples and families more fully embrace the miracle of each other. Her life and legacy also continues to delight and empower many more through the meaningful work of The Virginia Satir Global Network.
Although she is deeply missed each day, her vision for couples, families, children, communities, and a world at peace remains ever-present.
Seth Eisenberg is President/CEO of the non-profit PAIRS Foundation, an industry leader in relationship skills training and marriage education.