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What Fills Our Pots? A Visualization Activity to Build Our Feelings of Self-Worth

By Derek Sullivan, CCPRD Project Associate

In honor of International Boost Self-Esteem Month, we put Virginia Satir's “Self-Worth: The Pot Nobody Watches” article to action by replicating an activity aimed at increasing one’s awareness of the various factors that contribute to how they feel about their own self-worth.

Psychotherapist Virginia Satir created this activity, finding that while talking about ourselves can sometimes feel taboo, writing down the various feelings that contribute to our self-worth allows us to visualize and physically see how “full” we are of these messages. In Satir’s article, she says she’s “convinced that the crucial factor in what happens both inside people and between people is one’s self-worth, ‘one’s pot’” (Satir, 1988). The ways in which we feel about ourselves don’t just affect our own mental health, but they also affect the ways we interact with others. In this activity, individuals create three separate pots that they fill with perceived messages that the world sends about their self-worth.

We start off by identifying our “Pot Drainers," the messages we receive that make us feel bad about ourselves. Before building our self-esteem, it is vital to identify the things that pull our self-worth down and the negative messages we send ourselves. When our pots are low, our outlook on life and the events happening around us tend to be negative and we interpret things that others say and do to us in a negative connotation. Take time to reflect on how our world culture and media contribute to these negative messages.

The next pot we want to fill in our “Pot Cleansers,” the ways we combat negative messages about our self-worth and how we can better strengthen communication with those around us. In order to build our self-esteem, we must first eliminate and reframe those messages that make us feel “low-pot,” or down on ourselves.

Last, we want to fill our “Pot Fillers," positive feelings we have about ourselves and the positive messages that we receive from others. When this pot is full, our outlook on life and the events happening around us are mostly positive. We can see challenging new experiences as opportunities for growth instead of allowing them to anchor us down. Take this time to focus on why these activities bring us joy.

Once we have filled our pots, take a step back and look at how full each one is. If we are feeling “high-pot”, it’s likely that our “Pot Fillers'' is the fullest; if we are feeling “low-pot”, it’s likely that our “Pot Drainers'' pot is the fullest. Awareness of our current state of mind and reflecting on our individual pots allows us to create a plan of action for how we will work on improving our self-esteem. Our “Pot Cleanser” pot can be utilized to combat messages/thoughts that make us feel low in the moments that they are occurring. We end this activity with Satir’s “Declaration of Self-Esteem.” We encourage reading this mantra out loud and allowing the words to reside within you, opening up a place of self-forgiveness and acceptance.


Satir, V. (1988). Self-Worth: The Pot Nobody Watches. In The new peoplemaking. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.

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