Virginia Satir was a renowned therapist who developed a mandala to illustrate the many aspects of a human being – all of which need to be fulfilled in order for us to be happy. I find this mandala to be especially important when working with clients struggling with depression or recovering from substance abuse.
Satir’s philosophy was that our Self was composed of many different parts and that each of these parts had to be nurtured each and every day in order for us to be content and fulfilled. Personally, I think this is an excellent tool to make people more aware of who they are and what they need to address to practice good self care. Satir’s parts of the Self are described below:
Satir’s Mandala is also an aid for self-soothing. It describes the various parts of a human being which need to be fulfilled in order for us to feel complete. If we neglect to make intelligent choices about how we fill these needs, our subconscious will seek out fulfillment itself in ways that are not usually as healthy as we would like. Below you will find a brief explanation for each section and a few examples of what would fulfill it.
Something which stimulates the brain, intrigues the mind.
Something which makes us think.
Solving puzzles or mysteries
Reading a good book
Listening to a lecture or having a dialogue with someone about a topic which introduces us to new or different ideas.
If you don’t make intelligent choices about how to stimulate your mind, it will find it’s own methods for entertaining itself. One of my clients was bored at work and didn’t address it. Her brain took her to Ebay and amused itself by spending way too much money every month. By finding more effective ways of stimulating her mind, she eliminated her shopping habit and saved herself a lot of money.
The context in which we find ourselves, or in which we place ourselves
Our homes or offices
Going to a beautiful park
Going to an art gallery
Painting a room
Adding scent to a room
Putting flowers in a room
Repairing something which is broken in a room
Depression typically prevents people from performing a lot of cleaning duties in the home. Papers and mail pile up. Dusting and vacuuming don’t get done. Dirty dishes pile up. They also tend to isolate, closing the windows, pulling the blinds and keeping the rooms dark. This chaos and darkness creates an unpleasant Context which further depletes the already low mood of a person with depression. Opening the curtains and letting the sun shine in on a cleaned house tends to lift the mood.
Socializing with other people
Going out with friends or family
Going to dinner at a friend’s or a family member’s house
Attending a social function with someone else
Attending or participating in a sports event with friends
Going on a date
Going out with your spouse
Challenging yourself physically
Go to the gym and workout
Go for a walk, a swim, a run, etc.
Attend a class (i.e. yoga, tai chi, etc.)
Work in the garden
Something which stimulates the five senses:
Light a scented candle
Getting a massage
Painting a room a different color
Wear clothes that are beautifully colored or a brilliantly colored tie that pleases your eyes
Eating something delicious
Something which stimulates your emotions or makes you feel good emotionally
Watching a funny or sad movie
Going to a comedy club
Falling in love
Eating food that will stimulate your body in a healthy way. This is not the same as drinking caffeine or eating sugar for a “buzz”. What goes up must come down and both of these stimulants come with a crash when they wear off. Nutritional self-soothing is eating things that will make your body feel better naturally and in a healthy way.
Fruit instead of candy
Protein instead of sugar
Whole wheat instead of white flour products
Something which nourishes your soul. This is not necessarily something religious, but it can be.
Attending your church
Performing any kind of ritual
Research has shown that performing repetitive rituals can be very comforting and calms the mind. This is probably why so many religions have rituals, like chanting, lighting candles, etc.
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