In times when the social and religious coordinates do not clearly define how we should live, we feel freer, and therefore we can write the script of our steps with the sovereign pen, but also unstable, from our own hand. We enjoy many options but this also causes us greater insecurity.
It is in this context where therapies and professional help approaches find space and meaning, methods of philosophical or existential counseling capable of reconnecting us with an inner center, often forgotten by the thickness of our everyday life. Among these techniques, Family Constellations have stood out and strongly impacted on the culture and praxis of therapeutic help, in this last decade, for its mystery, intensity and effectiveness. As an approach, it is framed by systemic, transgenerational and existential principles.
Bert Hellinger German philosopher, theologian and therapist born in 1925, Hellinger is the creator of the Family Constellations. In 1999 he arrived in Barcelona, invited by the Institut Gestalt, to teach his work and start from here the intense development that Family Constellations should have throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Hellinger was a Catholic religious and missionary in South Africa among the Zulus, where he ran a school when, around 45, a therapist specializing in group dynamics confronted him with an accurate question that cracked his beliefs and led him to transform his life: “Are you more interested in people or ideas? If that were the case, who would you sacrifice in the first place?”
Be that as it may, as Bert Hellinger himself explains, this was the germ of his departure as a priest and the beginning of his interest in psychology. From this moment, he studied group dynamics, psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, gestalt therapy, primal cry, neurolinguistic programming, hypnosis and family and systemic therapies. The result of all this, plus a strong component of psychospirituality understood as assent to the sovereign will of life (or love fatti , in the Nietzschean sense), is the focus of the Family and Systemic Constellations according to Bert Hellinger.
It is clear that Hellinger drank from many sources, both philosophical and theoretical, but it is worth at least highlighting two of his great methodological precursors. The first, Jacob Moreno, creator of psychodrama, in which they seek, with a pseudoteatral praxis, new and creative solutions for old limiting scenes that made us suffer in the past and we have not managed to let go or resolve. And secondly, but even more decisively, Virginia Satir, one of the pioneers in family therapeutic work, who devised the technique of family sculpture, to understand the incongruent roles and communication dances and dysfunctional relationships in families, evidencing the shared involvement of all its members, who are desperately trying to preserve their dignity.
Through a constellation, a person, a couple or a family that poses problems of relationship, communication, behavior, personality, health, suffering in their work or organization, etc., manages to understand in a short time the dynamics and unfavorable implications that operate in your system feeding the problematic, and change them. The methodology, which is usually practiced in a group, is surprisingly simple and scenic. Representatives are chosen for the people involved in the matter, the necessary ones for their understanding and solution, whether they are of the current family or of the family of origin, previous couples, people of our labor system, etc., and then they are positioned in the space , so that the client externalizes the inner image that he has about his links and his network of relationships. Thus, a geometry is expressed that expresses how connections are perceived and the place each person occupies in the system. Then, the dynamics that keep the problems emerge, usually very subtle, almost invisible, and alternative solutions are generated through, for example, the integration of the excluded, or reparations between people, or pending emotional movements are completed, or ritual phrases are expressed that order, structure and relieve all members of the system. The client or clients usually have the feeling of having released old pesos, faults or difficult destinations, and of orienting themselves better towards the good and towards their own objectives.
People who repeat unhappy patterns or destinies (suicides, addictions, failures, struggles, depressions, betrayals, etc.) of other people in families, following amorous invisible loyalties, are released. Children who blindly love their parents, and navigate in the harmony of their system, assuming terrible dynamics such as following death to others whose mourning has not been completed, or becoming sick or assuming sacrifices or faults or revenge for others, or taking your efforts and places that do not correspond (such as being the invisible partner of one of the parents, for example), are finally available to be happier in your life or in your partner or your job, etcetera. The effect of a constellation is usually that of a great liberation because the merely intuited is revealed and confronted, and because the unresolved is finally faced, often accompanied by a strong emotionality that is cathartically decompressed. So the Constellations act in the depth of the subtle mysteries of our family group and the requirements of their collective Soul. For the Constellations work with this common Soul, a gregarious and collective entity to which we belong and on whose order and health our personal well-being depends. It is equivalent to Systemic Mind or Network of Links and resembles in some way the idea of the collective unconscious of Jung. That is to say, we belong to a collective family soul that surrounds us and welcomes us at the same time, giving us identity and satisfying our thirst for belonging, which is the most powerful instinct of the human being, while binding us to sacrificed loyalties and demands, which they can and must be overcome so that the orientation to life and happiness triumphs over their opposites of death and misery.
Sexuality and Death
This Common Soul or Mind is, according to Hellinger, a force that unites and directs those who belong to it, and it does so following certain laws that it called Orders of Love (an original expression of St. Augustine), which we will explain below, whose respect and compliance favors the bond and love, usually present among the members of the group or family, fermente in their well-being and happiness, and whose transgression usually leads to sufferings and sacrifices that often seem illogical, judging by the love that they feel for the others. This collective Soul to which we belong has been impacted by gifts and by wounds, by life and by death, by laughter and tears, by advances and setbacks. The collective as such is challenged to assume and integrate all the facts that existence, governed by the two great powers of life that are sexuality and death, gives them. Sexuality opens the doors of life and makes it advance and prosper, having as allies love, the joy of living, strength, and hope. On the contrary, Death closes the doors of life and forces us to grow through pain, which brings us its powerful allies such as illness, abortions, self-destruction, violence, accidental adversities, and so on. In family systems there are facts that hurt, weaken, embarrass or hurt, and the system tries to protect itself from them sometimes with silence, shutting them up in oblivion, without noticing that the silences are sonorous and have consequences, and prevent the strength and the health of the group, and often involve implications and sacrifices. It is required to integrate what hurt or devastated so that it loses its power and remains as past. As a small fragment of Yerma , by García Lorca, says: “Some things do not change, there are things locked behind the walls that can not be changed because nobody hears them”.
Therefore, we live not only in our individual mind but belonging to networks of bonds, collective souls, each with its own archaic and imperious mind, which influence and even govern us, although we do not understand them (especially family). In these networks, love is not enough to ensure well-being; It requires an order. Some people think that suffering is illogical if love is present. However, the evidence shows that many people suffer despite the presence of love. Love is not enough, because Good love or ordered Love is required. Good love is recognized because it leads us towards well-being, life, profit and fulfillment. Good love supposes that we have moved emotionally to respect and assent to the past and the gifts and wounds of our previous ones, instead of getting involved in them, repeating them, or showing a misunderstood fidelity to our previous ones with our unhappiness. Thus, good love makes us go a little further in more life, both in welfare and in happiness.
Guiding us by the intensity of the links as a common destiny and by their ability to express great gifts or serious implications, belong to this network, in which many are in resonance with many, the following: the son, with his brothers, including those who they did not get to be born or they died soon; the parents and their siblings, including also those who did not get to be born or died soon; the grandparents and their brothers, also the great-grandparents and even previous ones if they had very marked destinies; they also belong to those who made space for others, for example, previous couples whose disappearance succeeded in obtaining the place, and also those who had losses at the expense of others who made a profit (as victims of war or murders), or the other way around, some who made a profit or hurt at the expense of the loss of others (murderers, harriers, swindlers), et cetera.
The orders of love
The first order of love tells us that, in this network of bonds, all without exception, regardless of whether they are judged positively or negatively, have the same right to belong and be included and dignified, allowing and demanding that they assume their destiny and their faults and the consequences thereof, when that is the case. In practice it happens that family systems exclude or set aside some of their members because they condemn their behavior, or because their memory is too hurtful, shameful or painful. Sometimes, there are people who died soon, or people who committed suicide, and this causes pain or embarrassment in the descendants, or even parents who are judged for not doing the right thing or for irresponsible, bad, abusers, abandonors, alcoholics, et cetera. Actually, excluding is a movement of the personal mind that tries to protect itself from what generates pain. But the Collective Mind, the common Soul, does not understand the language of exclusion and follows an existential principle that says that “everything that is has the right to be as it was, and to be recognized in this way”. When this principle is respected, as a result of digging into one’s emotional process and assenting to family matters, the past is liberated and the future can be strong and real. When there are exclusions, the Collective Mind imposes the inevitable consequence that the excluded will be incarnated again by later people, who have nothing to do with the matter, and who often unconsciously, unknowingly, follow the fate of the excluded. It is the effect of the forbidden rooms that inevitably attract some in a failed attempt to elaborate and close painful episodes of the systems. How many become alcoholics following a father despised for his alcoholism? How many suffer from a fragile attachment to life when in the heart of the family they are lived as members who replaced someone lost through early death, for example, or feel bound to the person who died, and have difficulty in taking life in fullness? How many feel suicidal impulses when others, previous, also took their own lives or were guilty of the death or misfortune of other people?
The second order of love is one of extraordinary simplicity: people are better when they take their rightful place and not another, which, translated into family systems, means that children are children and fathers are fathers, and that in The couple are both adults, equal in rank, and walk side by side. If enunciating it is easy, it is not so enforced. How many children are not taken to take the invisible position of parents of their parents, especially when they lost them early or rejected them (and then, without realizing it, they look for what they did not have from their parents), and Do children assume it for love, sometimes at the price of carrying backpacks and bales that hinder their own life and expansion? How many children are involved with one parent against the other, or do they feel the invisible partner of one of them, or are they too close to one parent and against the other, or do emotional juggling and fall ill? heroic attempt to preserve a good place for his parents in his heart? We must not forget that the genuine desire of the children is to unite both parents inside them, regardless of what happens or has happened between them. Too many parents behave as small and too many children behave as large and special, transgressing the rule of welfare in families: everyone in the rightful place. And this also means that the later ones lean on the previous ones and direct their gaze towards the future. It is what in more tribal societies is lived as support in the ancestors, to which it is honored and venerated.
The third order of love refers to rules of exchange between giving and receiving, which water and sustain the life of all. With regard to the bond with parents, for example, we can not return what we have received so much and we compensate and balance it by giving our children or by serving and caring for life with our gifts. The biblical commandment reads: “Honor your father and your mother and in this way you will have a long and good life on earth”, which means that we do justice to what we have received, achieving a good and, if possible, long life. We also compensate by taking care of them within our possibilities when they need it in the decline of their life.
When working with the problems of people, we find that many are not based on what comes from the parents (who symbolize life) and rather refuse to take what they received, to preserve themselves from the negative. However, in this way they rarely get at peace with themselves and with life, giving him what they have to give him. Rather, they become impoverished and scrimped, positioning themselves in victimhood or resentment or other places of suffering. Taking what comes from the parents, even though it includes painful wounds, and working emotionally on it seems to be a sort of safe conduct for good love and an antidote to many evils, which induces us to take responsibility for one’s life and the refusal to play psychological games invalidating, full of suffering, for example with the couple or with children or in professional environments.
Regarding peers, the rule of exchange is to keep it balanced, to ensure parity and equality of rank. We give, we take, we compensate, we balance, and we are free, and if we continue together it is by using our freedom, not by sense of debt or of being creditors. It is a classic in conflicts of couple that tend to have imbalances in this exchange in such a way that one feels debtor and creditor and are no longer able to look each other in the eyes with confidence and openness of heart.
In short, it greatly helps people and families to have an order, order love, translate it into a good geometry of human relations, in which they are all without exception and equally worthy of respect and consideration, each in the exact place that corresponds to him and nurturing one another in such a way that they can grow instead of suffering. Here, then, good love.