Virginia Satir’s 5 Freedoms to Strengthen Self-Esteem

· July 12, 2018

Loving ourselves is a task left ‘outstanding’ for most of us. Valuing ourselves, appreciating ourselves and treating ourselves with care shouldn’t be secondary points in our routine, but things we keep front in mind from day to day. Prioritizing ourselves is fundamental if we want to achieve the freedoms of emotional as well as social wellbeing.

Only when we treat ourselves with respect and dignity are we able to develop our full potential, and at the same time to build strong and healthy connections with others. Self awareness is the key to connecting deeply with others. So, how do we find this key? What can we do to begin loving ourselves?

The 5 freedoms of Virginia Satir can help us with this. A collection of powerful affirmations crafted to start the process of personal development which will strengthen self-esteem. Let’s delve deeper.

Consider all hardships as opportunities to create something new, learning and growing comes out of the creative way in which you respond.

-Virginia Satir-

The freedom to be

The freedom to be and to listen to what there is, instead of what there should be, was, or will be.

The first of the freedoms of Virginia Satir is connected to the importance of being authentic and living in the presentinstead of sailing through the depths of the past, the currents of the future or even through the intricacies of one’s imagination and projections.

5 freedoms happy woman in field

Our minds can carry us down many paths, some of them will enslave us through guilt and make us lose time and others will create fictitious realities that trap us precisely because they show us what we crave. That said, where we direct our attention and our journey is up to us…


The key is to establish a profound connection with ourselves. If we do this, the ghosts of the past will disappear, so will fears of the future and the fantasies. Only then will we be able to focus our attention on the present to flow and be ourselves, free of filters, masks and distractions.

The freedom to decide what one thinks and feels

The freedom to decide what one thinks and feels, instead of what one should think or feel.

In most cases, we worry that our words and thoughts aren’t good enough, that they won’t get the approval of others or simply that they’ll do us harm. As a result we don’t express the half of what we really think and feel.

In doing this we disguise ourselves, and instead of creating authentic relationships we construct unstable ties and false modesty. It’s a double betrayal, first we betray ourselves by rejecting our true selves and secondly we betray others by concealing who we really are. That said, don’t forget that we can also opt to say nothing, as long as it’s a personal decision and not one imposed by others or what others expect to hear.

There’s nothing wrong in expressing our own feelings and thoughts, provided that we do it with respect and emotional responsibility. In fact, it’s the best thing to do if we want others to know us and accept us as we are and if we want to create genuine bonds with them.

The freedom to feel

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

This is one of the most challenging of Virginia Satir’s freedoms, because no one has taught us how to pinpoint what we feel. In the first place you have to keep in mind that every single one of our emotions is valid, we don’t need to repress them or block them out, on the contrary we should deepen the art of self-understanding.

Once we know that we are free to live and to experience every single one of the emotions we might feel it’s important to train ourselves to recognise our emotional language. Because on occasions, sadness hides behind fear or expresses itself through anger. The most important thing is to listen, to focus on how we feel in order to get to know each one of our emotions in order that later we might manage them.

The emotional world that each one of us hosts inside us is a map that not only helps us discover who we are, but helps us understand others. Because if we don’t know how others feel, it will be hard to respond to their needs in our relationship with them and viceversa.

5 freedoms heart drawn on misted window against sunset

The freedom to ask

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

We can’t be waiting for opportunities and for people to knock on our door, nor can we make do with what just happens to us. We have the freedom to choose and to ask.

Often, people with low self esteem are used to acting only when someone gives them permission, the result of their insecurity. It’s as though they can’t decide for themselves because someone has deprived them of this right. And although probably in their childhood someone has made them feel this way, it’s never too late to wake up and raise one’s voice, to make oneself visible. 

Once we know who we are, we know how to express ourselves, the next big step is to express what we want, so that later we can go in search of it and take risks.

The freedom to take risks

The freedom to take risks on your own, instead of choosing only what’s ‘safe’ and not taking a chance

The last of Virginia Satir’s freedoms is to do with taking risks, with leaving one’s comfort zone which sometimes, despite being uncomfortable, acts as a refuge.

If we want to grow, if we want to move forward the only way is to take action, and of course, taking responsiblity for the consequences of our actions. Only this way are we able to accept what happens and to learn from it. While we hang on to this feeling of security, we are unable to confront uncertainty face to face and to learn more.

As we can see, the five freedoms of Virginia Satir are an ode to self love. A collection of affirmations that invite us to reflect on how much we value ourselves and how authentic we are with others.