Resources That Never Get Downsized

It’s become a sadly familiar story–struggling corporations that face weak markets shed workers and close facilities in order to stay afloat and increase profits. But there is one “human resource” that will never face downsizing—your Self.

Each of us is born with a basic set of fantastic inner resources. Satir called these basic tools the SELF-ESTEEM MAINTENANCE TOOL KIT. You may be aware of some of the tools in this kit, while others may be less familiar. And sometimes—particularly under stress—we may lose sight of these resources altogether. Once you are aware of them, you can practice using these tools to solve problems, chart new territory and recognize your choices. Fortunately, the Self grows in capacity over time as you add resources to your stockpile, enabling you to better manage the unpredictable nature of external changes.

Although the icons symbolizing the tools may change, the tools are universals which cross cultures, age and gender. The purpose of this toolkit is to remind us of our resources so that we can better utilize them, boosting our performance and becoming more versatile in our responses.


GOLDEN KEY: Represents interest in the unknown, curiosity, innovation, new possibilities, the opening of doors. With the key, you can ask any question, and say or do what once felt unspeakable and undoable.
DETECTIVE HAT: Allows us, without judgment, to observe and collect data, analyze, sort input and options, make meaning and come up with logical explanations.  With the Detective Hat we can fit pieces together, and discover what is missing.
COURAGE STICK: We can reach for the Courage Stick when we want to make steps but are afraid or when we want to find the strength to make changes even when we know there will be difficulties. This tool can empower us when we want to move in the direction of our vision or go into the unknown.
WISHING WAND: Helps us be in touch with our vision, dreams, desires, aspirations and yearnings. Our dreams provide us with the energy and commitment for moving forward.
WISDOM BOX: This tool represents our inner, grounding guidance system. The Wisdom Box is that still, small voice inside which is the source of the wisdom of the universe, the wisdom of our past and the wisdom we have gathered in our lives. The Wisdom Box is the part of us that “knows” and helps us find our true path towards wholeness.
YES-NO MEDALLION: Gives us the key to integrity and strength by providing the ability to say a clear “Yes” and a clear “No.” The Medallion helps others to know who we really are, aids us in setting healthy boundaries and allows us to take care of ourselves. The Medallion also represents are ability to make choices.
HEART: The Heart, added by Jean McLendon, is a reminder that we all have feelings that can help guide us in the world. The ability to have compassion is also represented by the heart. Compassion for both self and other as well as consideration for context are essential for congruence.


Are you applying the tool kit in your daily life? Maybe the time is ripe for “upsizing” your Self and start using your resources more deliberately:

  • If you have a problem with a child, an employee, a co-worker, a spouse or a friend, ask yourself, “What tools might you need to help overcome this problem?
  • Maybe you are thinking about retiring but what stops you is that you do not know what you will do afterwards. Perhaps you need your Wishing Wand to help you dream and create a possible new vision. You might also need your Detective Hat to research possibilities.
  • If you are working on team building, you could ask your team, “Who in the group has a highly developed Golden Key? Courage Stick? etc.
  • When you think about a difficult experience that you handled well, what tools did you use to achieve this positive outcome?

Some people have found concretizing the tools in the form of physical objects helps them to bring the tools to life more. Others have put each of the tools on paper the size and weight of business cards and carry them in their wallet as reminders. A few have made posters and hung them on office walls. Do whatever you can to create representations to help remind you of these very powerful, essential resources. We are sure that if you use these birthright gifts, you will grow, change, and move towards greater wholeness. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Satir, Virginia and Banmen, John (1984). Virginia Satir Verbatim.  N. Delta, B.C. Canada: Delta Psychological.

McLendon, Jean (2002). Congruent Leadership Workshop. (

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