4 min

“Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

~Virginia Satir

by Seth Eisenberg

It was many years after a conversation with Virginia Satir as a teenager before the seeds she planted began to blossom. That experience helped me appreciate that each of us grow, learn, and most fully embrace life’s gifts and possibilities when we feel safe, secure, and ready.

When she died in 1988, Virginia Satir was at the forefront in the field of human growth and family therapy. Her remarkable insight into the impact of communication, family systems, and self-esteem continues to be ahead of its time. Popular relationship skills and marriage education programs such as PAIRS Essentials are significantly based on Virginia Satir’s teachings. On Saturday, more than a hundred South Florida singles and couples will spend the day discovering the impact of Satir’s wisdom and many practical skills she developed and inspired.

Virginia Satir firmly believed that people – at any time in their lives — are capable of continued growth, change and new understanding. The focus of her work was to improve communication and understanding as a pathway to strong families, human development, and the joy, meaning and fulfillment empowered by healthy relationships.

I’m particularly grateful that Sharon Loeschen, President of the Virginia Satir Global Network, is arriving from California to join the training at Nova University to consider how PAIRS classes that have contributed to tens of thousands of lives since Virginia Satir’s death can best contribute to her vision for people, families, and a world at peace.

This weekend’s classes at Nova University and Ekklesia Church are funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. There is no cost to participate.

As I often do before leading a training, I again find myself reflecting on some of Virginia Satir’s words that best capture her lasting legacy.

“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.”

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”

“Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

“I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen by them, heard by them, to be understood and touched by them.”

“Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.”

“We can learn something new anytime we believe we can.”

“Over the years I have developed a picture of what a human being living humanely is like. She is a person who understands, values and develops her body, finding it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and is willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and to find ways to accommodate to what is new and different, keeping that part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not.”


The Five Freedoms

I Am Me

PAIRS Foundation

The Virginia Satir Global Network