The counselor Virginia Satir was one of the founders of the family therapy movement in the 1950’s. Her groundbreaking work on how to provide good therapy to complicated families has endured through the present day.
One of the best contributions she made is called The 5 Freedoms. They represent what everyone has the freedom to do, even though we might not realize it. In fact, I believe the word “right” could be substituted for the word “freedom” and it would still be accurate.
I’ve listed them below and then I’ll give my brief meaning for each one. They could all have other meanings as well. They are:
- The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be.
- The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should.
- The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought.
- The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.
- The freedom to take risks in your own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rocking the boat.
The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be.
Have you ever pretended that everything was fine when it wasn’t? How often do you avoid conflict? How real is your world?
It’s important to face reality, especially when it’s uncomfortable. Wishing reality was different is pointless.
We need to see reality as it is, not as you or someone else thinks it should be. Only then can we effectively deal with our struggles.
The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should.
How often do you worry about what other people think of you? Do you often seek the approval of others?
How often are you completely yourself? Do you even know what that feels like?
One way to start is knowing that you have the right to be yourself all the time. And expressing your true thoughts and feelings is an excellent way to practice.
The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought.
Have you ever judged your own feelings by thinking that you shouldn’t feel that way? Have you ever been confused about what you feel?
We humans are hard wired to feel emotions. Denying they exist is refusing to accept your humanity. And not identifying and accepting your emotions is harmful to your well being.
The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.
Have you ever just taken what you’re given, even though it’s not enough? Do you have unmet needs?
You deserve to have your core needs fulfilled and to seek that without question. No one knows what your needs are unless you tell them. And no one knows if your needs are being met unless you tell them that too.
The freedom to take risks in your own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rocking the boat.
Are you living the life you want to live? Have you ever felt your life isn’t going anywhere?
The only way to grow as a person is to take risks. The only way to know what you’re capable of is to take a risk. Taking a risk shows courage. And a risk that doesn’t work out makes you stronger.
You may need help with one or more of these.
How much of these freedoms do you put into practice? If you are struggling with any of them, counseling may be helpful.