The Self-Connection Podcast E9 with Eva Wieprecht

Eva Wieprecht joins the podcast today to talk about her experiences with Virginia Satir’s work and her personal hero’s journey. She is a Generative Coach/Trainer and Satir Model trainer. She is the Director of the Virginia Satir Institute of Germany. We connected through a Satir Global Community Zoom meeting and with the help of my co-host Sharon Loeschen. She started her career off in the business world with an MBA and in her family’s business, but her authentic Self and her need to learn, be creative brought her to other spaces and adventures. Her work now focuses on using Virginia Satir’s work and Generative coaching for individuals, businesses and offers a variety of training and workshops.

Something in Eva resonated with me. Her genuineness and passion struck me and her curiosity, positivity and interest were strengths in her that were immediately apparent.

1:00 Eva shared a story of when her teacher Judith Delozier first met Virginia. That she was so full of energy of love and connection.  Eva love for her family and wanting to heal the pain in her family made her interested in Virginia and first learning about her five freedoms. She was also attracted to Virginia’s wish to be a detective in families.

9:00 What was the problem/puzzle that Eva was trying to solve or resolve within her family context and family business. She shares that she initially blamed herself and identified herself as the problem.  Virginia helped her realized that it wasn’t her or her father or the others but the whole interactional pattern that was the problem.

13:45 In trying to fit into the family business, Eva suffered a loss of self-esteem and suffered from physical ailments, cervical cancer, which she took as signs that she was not in the right context for her life.

18:30 Eva struggled to find herself as unique and separate from the family myth. Eva knew that she was loved by her father, but she describes wanting to connect and experience her father’s love through the achievement of success through the family business.

20:00 We talk about the difference between the hierarchical model as compared to the seed model which Virginia talked about as related to what Eva was experiencing with herself and her family business. Eva describes that she also felt value and respect across the corporate structure for every person as being of equal value. Eva

26:00 Eva talks about another teacher,  Dr Gunther Schmidt,  who met Virginia Satir and how he seemed to sparkle when he spoke of her and that this also resonated with Eva. I interrupted Eva to reflect on this idea of spark and to try to unpack what is it more precisely about Virginia that has been so meaningful to people.  Eva talks about the common reflection of felt sensing of presence which included the feelings of warmth, connection.

29:45 We explore the question of “What is embodied presence?” that Virginia seemed to manifest so clearly.  What was unique about Virginia was the way she used herself, how she was able to connect to something deep inside of herself to connect with others and how this came across in her sculpting, her eyes, and her use of touch.

30:20 Use of Self is the key to facilitating healing and growth process. Eva describes her hunch that Virginia’s mission for peace within, between and among as part of how she was present. What does it mean to feel peace within myself and peace between us and to live and breath and walk that?  

31:45 I ask what peace means to Eva. She talks about doing her own work to learn more about herself and to take her reactions to others as opportunities to grow. By engaging the shadow sides of her psyche, she can own as many parts of herself which creates peace because those parts aren’t projected into the world and creating conflict.

34:00 “We connect at the level of our sameness and grow through our differences.” We talk about how painful our differences can be and that the energy and work of forgiveness can help expand us and eventually create peace.  Eva talks about the importance of noticing and acknowledging the parts within us that we have not yet made peace with.

36:20  Eva describes “parts” as different motivations and emotional complexes such as anger, fear, happiness, joy and sadness. These are the many energies inside that can take on many forms.  Eva talks about her professional role and her desire to gain validation at this level as being in conflict - something that felt empty and sad inside.

40:00 Eva was yearning to be understood and to have a voice for her deepest sense of Self. She also yearned to have a space for her Self.

42:00 “I needed to lose myself, in order to find myself” We explore whether there’s anywhere around that tension between losing and getting lost and then finding oneself.

“We need to lose and have a crisis to come into alignment,” Eva says.

45:00 Eva calls the moments of crisis and chaos in life as “Kisses of awakening” The universe is saying we have a big plan for you. We’re going to kiss you away. Something that you’re doing here isn’t quite right. For Eva, she experiences painful physical manifestation of such kisses of awakening.

46:50 Virginia message of nurturing and support in the face of such experiences is essential to moving through the periods of chaos. Eva talks about using a circle of support/love that are people can hold and support you when you don’t feel good.

48:30 As we move through periods of chaos, and accept them as moments of awakening of changing our relationships with ourselves and with others, we are also increasing our ability to trust the life process and therefore engage more willingly with chaos and unknown.

49:20 In Virginia Satir process of change model, she normalizes the experience of chaos as part of the journey. Awareness of such a phase in the process gives some reassurance to people experiencing the pain of chaos just as a map can be useful before travelling to a new destination.

51:00 Some reflective questions from Eva during her process of change: “Who do I want to become?” “What is the gift of myself that I really want to share with others?”  “How can I heal my wound so that my wound can be in service of the gift?” And therefore become an authentic messenger for this work. Eva believes that if you haven’t been wounded then you can’t really help people going through difficult times.  

“Your heart is meant to break open” Buddhist quote.

52:33 Eva shares about her meeting with a group of people at a Satir Global meeting and meeting Sharon Loeschen.  She describes the love, wisdom, skill, humility and nurturing in the room.

1:00:00 Virginia developed a model of practice that was systemic and that was simple enough and yet able to account for the complexity of being human.  Virginia put into words that which was very difficult to describe but was felt. This helped Eva make sense of her own experience of her self in relation to her family.

1:02:00 Eva highlights the humanistic approach of Virginia and how we have learned to behave and cope with life. The family of origin work helps us make sense of patterns of coping that isn’t about blame but empowering new learnings.  Eva describes the perceptual world as out of proportion for young people and this sensory difference can be internalized as a sense of being powerless or of the world being scary for young children over time beyond the period of childhood. For example, all adults are taller than children so children need to look up. Virginia would often have children stand on stools to see their parents eyes directly and this experience would be the first time that parent and child communicated at the same physical level, which also communicates ‘equality of value.”

1:06:00  Virginia awareness, care and use of the body was unique and something that is distinct from other modern models of psychotherapy.  Whether it was making contact, building awareness with sculpting, practicing communication by coaching the eyes and ears to observe with judging prematurely, etc.

“The body is a rich resource” Eva explains. The connection to the body allows us to connect to experiences that beyond words and the use of the body facilitates the emotional expression and release.

1:11:30 We explore Eva’s hope for Virginia Satir’s work. Eva hopes for a systemic-relational approach that orients us back to the ‘juice of relationship’. Eva really hopes that the people she works with can really embody and put the five freedoms into practice: These have to do with the freedom to see/hear what is present, to feel what you feel, to say what you see/hear and feel and to ask for what you want and finally to take risks.

We also talk about the emphasis on the process of becoming more conscious rather than getting stuck into conclusions and judgments, which Virginia emphasized and taught.

Here is a link to the Enriching Program that Eva mentions:

The Self-Connection Podcast E8 with Stephen Buckbee: Exploring the resources of the Self through the Mandala

Today we have our first guest on the Self-Connection podcast, Stephen Buckbee. I really enjoyed connecting, hearing and learning from Stephen. He demonstrated a strong understanding of systemic work and expressed that through his experiences with the mandala. His joy, passion and positive are inspiring and shine through in this conversation.

1:48 Meditation using the various elements of the Mandala: Physical, emotional, contextual, relational, spiritual force, sensory

8:10 Our conversation begins. Stephen shares about how Virginia’s work influenced/affected him. He found her work to be unique in its effectiveness, its tools. He started working as a social worker in 1973. He liked her way of working with systems. He describes her as congruent and aware of the context (using everyone in the audience to work towards change).

1986 he joined one her process communities for 30 days.

10:44 We discuss Stephen’s observation of congruence and context-awareness in Virginia that were unique. Stephen shared she made contact with clients powerfully intimate and would use sculpting. Stephen described the family session Virginia lead. The family was hoping for a change in the mother and as Virginia worked with the mother, the son observed the audience's expectations of his mother and his own that kept him from seeing that she was always trying the best she could.

Virginia seemed to be aware of the parallel contexts: Audiences expectation of Virginia, Son’s expectations of mom, Audience expectations of mom, etc.

Virginia made the most use of whatever resources were there either in people or in the environment.

16:00 Virginia was one of the first people working with whole families systems. She made use of physical sculpts to create pictures and experiences that help us understand what we are experiencing and also how others experiences are different from our own. For example, using sculpts to help people understand the different family experiences based on birth order or across generations.

17:45 The uniqueness of Virginia is not to be found in the form or the words but in the spaces between the forms. Her strength was not getting locked into a particular pattern of relating and allowing her self to make a unique contact with unique people at a unique time and place.

19:53 She talked with people and made contact with them. I take this to mean that she did not just respond to people in a role or with technique but as a human being feeling with others and allowing herself to feel along with and to fully present and fully human with others.

20:15 Virginia gave tools and a framework that helped people change.

Context is constantly changing whether we are talking about inner or outer context.

Virginia helped teach people and gave them tools so they could understand the parts and resources within themselves and within each other that perhaps they had no idea were there.

Virginia was creative and innovative. For example, she would have a woman who was shorter than her husband stands on a step so she and her husband could for the first time have a conversation eye to eye. This demonstrated her understanding of the importance of making physical contact and her belief that people need to connect at a level playing field that is of being of equal worth and value.

22:40 We begin to discuss what the mandala is. Virginia liked to say “Everyone has a belly button” and it indicates our separateness and connection. She highlighted the human universals and she made connections with people through these universals. The core of the mandala is the Self and the various dimensions surround the Self. Virginia wasn’t afraid to express what was universal wisdom.

26:10 We talk about the interconnections between context and spiritual; specifically geographical and cultural context impacts the way spiritual life is expressed. Cultural context can set rules around what you can learn (intellectual). Senses are how we take in information and then this impacts emotional and intellectual life. The important point is looking at and exploring “How do we take in information?” and second “How do we create meaning about what we take in?” Stephen shares an example where a person upon seeing someone who is reminded of memory with a different person in their past is like putting a ‘hat’ on that person that doesn’t belong to them. Stephen clarifies that meaning exists in the intellectual and emotional levels of the mandala.

29:40 Stephen shares his distinction between feelings and emotions. Emotions are hardwired, basic emotions like fear, anger, sadness and feelings are the response to the emotions, which also have to do with our rules about emotions. Emotions can trigger survival reactive patterns and then reactive perceptions “I am inadequate” Feels and emotions are triggered by the meanings we create.

Stephen shares a wonderful and useful application of how we can look at family rules across the 8 elements of the mandala to understand the impact of the rule on our lives. For example, if a person has a rule “Don’t ever show anger.” What impact does this have on the interactional, emotional, sensory level? Using the mandala as a tool helps us become broadly aware of the broad impact that such limiting rules can have.

31:45 Stephen talks about nutritional piece. This layer deals with a fundamental and universal question which is “How do you feed yourself?” Whether that be spiritually, emotionally, relationally, literally, nutritionally, physically, etc. Stephen describes the nutritional element as what we do to be nurturing towards ourselves.

We thrive in connection, in nurturing, in love. Stephen says, “How quickly people heal often have to do with what kind of support systems they have.”

Stephen talks about the nutritional level as ‘taking in things.” Essentially what we allow into our lives.

34:30 We discuss how important it is to note these various layers as processes rather than as fixed forms. Virginia used to remark, “The content provides the context from which to engage in the process of change and it is the process that is essential” Nurturing seems to be a general principle that is part of all layers of the Self. What are we allowing into our lives, our bodies, our relationships? What are we consuming in terms of information, experiences, connections?

In our conversation, Stephen is educating me about how interconnected each of the aspects of the mandala are. That each layer offers a resource that adds to the whole that without it the whole would be significantly diminished.

When we teach someone to interact differently, to feel their feelings, to be intellectually aware or to shift the perspective, all of these things related to how we can receive something that is positive and growthful for our lives.

Imagine if we thought about the principle of nurturing alongside the interactive and that our wish to give and receive things were aligned with the value of only giving and receiving things that meant a value of nurturance.

37:28 Interactional has to do with how you talk with yourself and how you talk/treat with others. Therapist help people change their inner dialogues. These patterns are based on their experiences from their family of origin. This layer is where we can explore and understand the survival coping stances we have learned and used (placating, blaming, super-reasonable, or irrelevance).

38:30 Stephen explains that we each have vulnerabilities at every level of the mandala and these vulnerabilities is where our defences can be triggered. We will use a survival stance at any layer depending upon where our vulnerabilities exist.

39:20 The physical layer is the container for all of our energy that is related to our name. When we get connected to our bodies through movement, this experience of grounding enables and empowers us then to contain and hold our emotional experiences. People experience physical sensation and symptoms that express /communicate from other areas of the mandala.

41:45 We discuss how the use of the mandala points to universal that Satir emphasized “Wholeness”. It is in the integration of our various resources that we experience our wholeness.

Stephen has an exercise where he has workshop participants try to give themselves an appreciation at each element of the mandala. The areas where there is resistance or difficult mark an area of growth.

Stephen describes each of these elements of the mandala as ‘parts’ of Self.

45:00 The education around the mandala is learning how to use each resource with respect to one another especially at a moment in time of vulnerability, weakness and need.

This tool is intended to help people connect to their own inner resources and empowerment.

“Therapy isn’t something that’s done to anyone; it’s something you do with someone.”

47:00 Therapy might be thought of a ‘resourcing’ process, of taking the things that are there and transforming things that are rejected and making them something useful and oriented towards growth.

48:40 Stephen shared that Virginia goal was to expand and advance her tools not just repeat her. Stephen shared how he had used the mandala in training staff to be more aware of the wholeness of the people (vulnerable youth) and to look with greater depth and beyond assumed cultural norms/patterns that were significantly different between staff and youth. Exploring these universal dimensions creates a sense of common humanity and deep empathy. The awareness of the mandala within each person allows us to see behind and around behaviour rather than defining a person by what they have done or how they appear on the outside.

50:20 Stephen recommends that we also integrate the use of the mandala with our assessment and tracking of the process of change. It seems to be particularly helpful to recognize where the individual is experiencing the foreign element that is creating chaos (trauma) within the mandala.

52:30 We talk about Stephen’s hope for the growth and expansion of Virginia’s work. He talks about the hope and wishes that her work can be taught in college and universities. Stephen describes Virginia’s work as transcending mere theory but being a powerful practice model that provides concrete tools. We talk about how her work is relevant in education generally from early childhood all the way up to higher education because her work helped people learn hot to be fully human and to become aware of inner resources and ways of connecting that were aimed at health and growth. Virginia taught at a level that was not full of jargon but was accessible to a broad and general audience.

Please visit to learn more about Virginia Satir and various trainings and workshops there. Also consider joining the Satir Global Facebook page and connect with the community there:

The Self-Connection Podcast: Episode Seven Congruence and Self Part 2

On today’s episode, Tim and Sharon explore the relationship between congruence and the Self, what is also described as “I am.” We discussed how the connection to Self can be an important grounding space from which to process and integrate one’s experience. The space of congruence entails thing such as calm, curious, acceptance, love and compassion.

1:15 Sharon discusses the spirit as “I AM” and a recent experience that helped her understand “I am” separate from particular roles, adjectives, nouns or functions at a moment in time. Congruence is being in that place of “I am” without characterizations, expectations, and hooks. A person can say “ I am experiencing depression and this depression is not who I am” This space between person and experience and being in the place of life, I am , Self we are connected and grounded in the present moment.

4:50 Emotions can become the whole experience and overtake the experience of the Self. The emotions and reactions then become the filter for the behavior that comes in relationship to the outside world. Mindfulness is the practice of creating a detachment from particular thoughts and feelings and not identifying with them.

7:30 Congruence is behaving and expressing yourself from the secure base of your dignity and worth. Congruence grows from the connection to “I AM”.

9:00 Sharon will ask people how they are relating/feeling towards their feelings and parts and other people. When people have an opportunity to look at their experience and to say what they observe they are creating distance from the part/feeling. Expressing it from the place from Self means there is now a space from the experience. The energy of this process is calm, curious acceptance, love and compassionate. When a person shifts out of survival stance into congruence their body posture, tone, eyes, changes and they can express themselves differently.

11:23 Health is the integration and synthesis of experiences which is done with the energy from the core of the human being, the Self or I AM. Sharon invites people to be in space of caring and love in relationship to their experience.

13:00 Emotional experiences or reactions need to be taken care of and disavowing and rejecting them is not a sufficient way of integrating these patterns into our lives. We can look at behaviours as entirely negative, but being able to connect to the intention and life in a particular emotion or reaction enables us to understand and honour the need that is beneath the negative behaviour.

16:30 Congruence being willing to deal honestly and truthfully with the messiness of life. Congruence has a lot to do with conscious choice.

17:15 According to Dr. Dan Seigal, in order to integrate you need to differentiate and link. We discuss what these words mean. The process of differentiating an emotion also requires linking that emotion to the whole person.

19:00 Dr. Dan Siegal use of differentiation and linkage is similar to Dr. Jean Piaget’s concept of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is that which we experience which we can attribute as the similar to our existing knowledge, abilities, experience and understanding. Accommodating is when our experiences push the boundaries of our knowledge, abilities, experience. The ground of this dialect between assimilation and accommodation needs to be based in the foundation of Self-connection. Having the five freedoms empower us to process and integrate our life experiences particularly the challenging ones.

23:00 “Always” and “Never” or all or nothing thinking is an indication that we are not in the energy of congruence. These represent parts of ourselves. Parts can be thought of adaptations of living. Virginia would often ask and challenge people to check the limits of what they think should happen.

27:00 Being connected to our Self we can hear more clearly our deepest wishes and yearnings. The five freedoms enable us to look at the difficult experiences and then to go deeper to discover our deeper yearnings.

Sharon shares that feeling her feelings of sorrow of anger in relation to aging enables her to move through the emotions and acceptance.

29:10 The five freedoms might also be thought of five choices. The freedom to choose to see/hear, freedom to choose to feel, the freedom to choose to say what I feel/see/hear, the freedom to choose to ask, the freedom to choose to take a risk.

30:50 Life is handing us pieces of a puzzle and what we do with the pieces our integration of those experiences help grow our wisdom.

32:30 we slow down our conversation to check in with our own connection to congruence. Tim describes feeling energized and appreciative. Sharon shares her appreciation for life given her health challenges with cancer. She talks about the gift of having connections and that the surgeries have helped her experience each day as a gift.

She describes the importance of learning to be more loving and connected to yourself and to others.

37:00 We experience happiness and joy in moments of calm, and we experience tremendous growth and expansion in moments of pain and suffering.

The Self-Connection Podcast: Episode six CONGRUENCE Part 1

On today's episode we explore Virginia Satir’s concept of congruence. Congruence is the harmony of the inside of the outside as well as the truthful expression of Self manifested with others and in one’s environment. It can be described as a state of wholeness, flowing energy and harmonious connection within, between and among. Congruence is a central teaching in Virginia Satir’s work and it highlights her emphasis on health, positive growth, and her overall life-affirming stance.

0:30 Meditation begins

7:21 The conversation begins. We first explore some of Virginia’s writings related to congruent living from her book “Peoplemaking” Sharon describes congruence as an energy space to be living and a place from which you manifest living as Virginia described.

Congruent living involves

Communicating clearly new line cooperating rather than competing

To empower rather than dominate

To enhance individual uniqueness rather than to categorize

use authority to God I've accomplished what it's it's rather than to force by line through the tyranny power

To love, value and respect themselves fully

To be personally and socially responsible

To use problems and challenges as opportunities for growth/creative solutions

11:30 We talk about wholeness and the free flow of energy as a way of thinking of congruence. Sharon describes her learning from Virginia Satir as she taught about congruence. “We are born whole and we are born holy” Virginia used to say “We are born with our holes open”

15:00 We talk about the free flow of energy as related to the transformation of rules. For example, having the freedom to see/hear, feel, say, ask and take risks.

18:00 You can’t always be open or free of the rule, but you develop a consciousness around the reactive survival patterns. Awareness creates the space and the energy to make new choices.

21:00 “There’s no cure, only evolution” Virginia had said. This was to say that we never lose our reactive patterns, but we evolve greater consciousness in relationship to those patterns.

22: 45: Tim makes the point that our Self, the ground of our being is always there, it’s a matter of whether we are there consciously. If we can have a healthy relationship between Self and the experience. To be connected to your Self and to look at your experience you are having and connecting your strength and wisdom is a way of describing congruent living.

25:45 Congruence is the alignment and harmony between the inside and outside (feelings/thoughts and behaviour). Congruence involves being connected to Self which includes deep yearnings and values/needs.

28:00 Congruence is the honouring and harmony of Self, others and context.

30:00 Congruent communication is speaking at two levels Role and Self. Where we are perceiving and upholding the Self-worth that underlies the role. There is always a connection and respect of the essence and dignity of the other person. Our words speak to the role, the function, and the tone, non-verbals, speak to the Self. Parenting without communication and honouring the Self is disconnected and unsustainable.

33:00 Our non-verbal communication gives messages about our attitude towards the other person and the relationship. For example, a tone of contempt communicates a sense of disrespect and also a lack of contained toxic emotions (anger).

34:50 Sharon talks about John Gottman’s concept of ‘bids for attention’. We can learn to recognize bids for attention/validation and how we can learn to better respond to them and increase intimacy and connection.

37:00 We need to be responsible for being connected to our Self-worth as separate from whether or not people are meeting our needs/bids. If we can learn to be connected to our Self, we are able to be resilient in the face of disappointment and hurt moments.

39:35 We talk about the importance of repair when bids are missed. We can learn and grow through the repair process. Tim shares the importance of people being in touch with their self-worth, the ground from which they can communicate, notice what they are feeling/needing. When we are too stuck in the rigidity of a role and specific function, we can become resentful and not be able to communicate congruently and to ask for what we want/need

42:00 Sharon shares about Virginia’s work with a couple and how challenging it was for the woman who tended to placate and ask for what she wanted. She wanted her husband to make the coffee in the morning and she broke the rule of asking and voicing her need. She had to step out of the role of being the ‘caretaker’ and that she had no right to ask for anything. This example illustrates the experience of the five freedoms: seeing/hearing, feeling free, saying what you want/need, and asking for it and the risking something.

The Self-Connection Podcast: Episode Five What is support? Part 3

Today we explore the kind of support that therapist provide and how that is different from personal relationships such as friends and family.  We also explore a unique exercise taught by Virginia Satir called “Do you mean?” that you can use within your close relationships to improve your listening skills and practice separating what is said from what is meant.

0:14 Meditation starts

5:17 The conversation begins.  We explore what do therapist do to prepare themselves for their work and Sharon shared that it is important that she does things outside of being a therapist that feeds her soul .  

7:00 We talk about the therapist’s maintaining a healthy boundary and respect for the others internal capacity for healing, their inner resources as a means of avoiding burnout.   

11:00 Sharon talks about her experience of connecting to her community through song as a way of grounding and healing and feeding her soul.  Allowing herself to be nurtured.

15:00 Sharon talks about Virginia’s metaphor of the candle representing the light that exists in each person.   We talk about support as being the genuine belief in the worth of another human being and the genuine look of awe that comes of that belief.   

18:15 We do the exercise of “Do you mean?” to demonstrate an activity which helps deepen ones understanding of the other by making the listener work hard to workout possible meanings. This facilitates a separation between what is said and what is meant and helps in building an individual ability to attune and validate another’s message.

We run through an example to demonstrate what the exercise looks like.

24:40  Sharon shares an activity called “With whom am I having the pleasure?” This is where you sit with a new person and allow yourself to look at the sense , explore memories, characteristics and explore feelings , stereotypes, reminders of someone else, third party information, thoughts and projections and to be aware of what comes up automatically without any direct experience. This exercise helped people separate reality from their perceptions/interpretations and also encouraged them to comment on these things openly.  

28:40 Sharon shares the longer the relationship the more intimate, the longer the database of projections are.

29:30 We explore the differences between support in a professional context compared to a personal one.  In personal role, people avoid getting stuck in a fixed and rigid role for example as caregiver, rescuer, scapegoat, victim, etc.

34:00 the development of supporting skills requires a constant negotiation of role, expectations, beliefs to ensure a mutual and health connection in personal relationship that remains distinct from a professional role.   

37:20 “The problem isn’t the problem; the problem is the coping with the problem” Virginia Satir. We engage in patterns of coping based on our negative experience. For example, we can cope with the situation with our reactive emotion of anger and behaving aggressively to try to get our needs met. The therapist offers a transcendent stance and energy of acceptance, compassion, growth, openness to cope with the problem.  

40:00  We can shift our identity from “I am depression” to “I am love” and begin to use the positive energy to be a container for holding the painful emotions/experiences.  When we are connected to someone in a supportive role, like a therapist, they facilitate that experience with us. Growth/healing/health is in the integration of rejected, toxic and pained parts of ourselves.