Systemic Family Constellation
“Family Constellation” derives - from my perspective- from the way stars are held together to create a constellation. In this case, it is referring to a group of people who can be family members but not exclusively, interconnecting subconsciously the same way, creating an issue which affects someone on the conscious level.
People are often confused when I try to explain the concept of family constellation workshops. Although it is becoming more widespread, it is not an exact practice and the approaches adopted by various facilitators vary dramatically.
I would like to give you an example of one of the approaches that I adopt.
Imagine a small group of people, unknown to one another, entering a room and exchanging pleasantries until everyone has arrived. I explain briefly how the session will unfold and how they will be expected to participate. For them, this mostly involves trusting in whatever they are feeling or want to act on; and for me, as the facilitator, instilling confidence in the group so that they feel comfortable enough with each other to share their experiences and feelings during the session.
Everyone is understandably slightly uncomfortable as the session is based on what is discussed by the group as a whole and, unlike an academic course, the outcome is never apparent at the beginning. This is the most positive attribute of the Family Constellation Workshops as they are always bespoke and totally based on the requirements of the group which become apparent during the session.
I always request for someone to volunteer to go first, which is often a daunting prospect, but eventually someone will usually step up without being singled out. This person then becomes the issue holder.
Although this list is not exhaustive, some of the issues that I have dealt with include:
I feel stuck in life
I have a pain in my hip
My daughter doesn’t get along with her father
I have been sexually assaulted
I beat my children and they won't let me make amends
My family is a mess
I don’t feel I belong
I lost my joy of life
I have anxiety and I procrastinate
Why am I scared?
Why do I need to control others?
Where does my anger and my shame come from?
Someone I love died
While it may seem that these issues are so diverse that they could not be dealt with simultaneously, with the group working together it is often discovered during the course of the day that there is common ground that brings them closer together. This bonding empowers the group to work together to discover positive ways to disperse or integrate their issues.
From that moment, the issue holder doesn't participate in their own constellation and stands outside the group as an observer. He or she will only be requested to comment or confirm things that need clarification from time to time.
I would like to look at a few cases in more depth.
The issue holder is often anxious and unable to find happiness.
I ask her to choose two representatives from the group: one for herself and the other for her anxiety. As soon as the representatives enter the field, which is the space created by the group, they connect energetically with who or what they represent and start to feel emotions that do not belong to them. I give them the green light to express anything they feel. They can move around the room, sit down, run, lie down, scream, cry, be angry, feel nothing, laugh – whatever they want. The representatives are often surprised to be able to make the distinction between their own feelings and who or what they represent.
The issue holder is then encouraged to confirm the accuracy of what is being conveyed by the representatives.
The group is encouraged to ask questions and move around to try to find the connection to what could make her anxious. The issue holder volunteers more information bit by bit and more representatives are introduced. She explains that she has a disabled uncle in her native country and she is not comfortable with him because of his attitude towards people and the way he lives his life. He is in his own world and is happy albeit totally oblivious to the feelings of anyone else around him.
As the constellation unfolds, we realise that the issue holder had tried to fit into a mould. She believed from a very young age that to be accepted by her family, she could not be entirely herself and became what she thought was asked from her. Her uncle represented a part of herself she shut down to feel accepted and loved by her parents and family. He was a reminder of what she missed deeply: feeling free and happy to be herself. When she realised what she had done over the years, she cried. She sacrificed a part of herself and her anxiety was reminding her to get it back and accept it.
While asking questions, releasing emotions and introducing new characters, we discover the hidden dynamics. We see anger, sadness, pain, violence, grief and much more unfold. This can often be linked to transgenerational trauma and the suffering of ancestors who have not been acknowledged. The representatives give voice to them and their pain to allow for release. We also see how past lives and present life events are intertwined within the field, influencing the issue holder.
I have seen representatives on their knees crying because the pain they experienced was so strong or the love they felt was overwhelming. I have seen a deceased grandfather who fought in one of the world wars, taking pleasure in killing his victims; but when we reached the pain underneath, we saw this man, when young, was brutally beaten and sexually abused. All the hatred and anger he built up over the years was turned on his victims during the war. Finally, when we broke through, the representative was in tears because through her, the grandfather realised what he had done. He had been blinded by his own anger and pain all his life. This was affecting the anxiety level of the issue holder and was holding her back subconsciously. The emotions felt by her grandfather did not belong to her and yet she carried the pain which manifested itself through anxiety. We all have victims and/or perpetrators in our ancestral line. Bringing secrets to light helps to release the emotions associated with unresolved issues from our ancestors so that they don’t carry on to the next generation.
Many constellations show that our family history affects us subconsciously because of deep feelings of belonging. We feel that carrying what does not belong to us but to our ancestors is what we need to do to love, be loved and belong. Children automatically absorb all of this through energies, emotions, vocabulary and behaviours passed on from their parents. We are these children who have become adults and we often struggle in our lives. We don’t understand why we have difficulty shifting energies and resolving aspects of our lives.
In my family constellation workshops, we give a voice to the dead and the living – miscarried or aborted children, ancestors, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents or friends. We gain understanding about what is affecting our souls, which allows for deep transformation. This is a spiritual work that takes us to our deepest pain and gives us answers whether we like them or not.
In another constellation, race and African slavery was explored. Both black and white representatives carried the shame, anger, guilt and pain of their ancestors: the victim and the perpetrator. We are never chosen randomly when we become representatives. Through standing in the constellation we can see and feel everyone's perspective – even perpetrators – and understand that the world is more complicated than we think or imagine. It not only deepens our compassion towards ourselves, but also towards the person or situation that made our life miserable.
Rape, sexual abuse, violence, racism, feeling inadequate or stuck in life, lacking choices and much more often stem from unresolved issues in our ancestral line and past lives. We need to be more compassionate and understanding towards ourselves in order to release the violence, shame, guilt, pain and suffering in our ancestral past and prevent it from affecting the lives of further generations. This isn’t work that comes from the mind: it requires working from our hearts – our entire bodies – on the underlying issues, including the ones that belong to our ancestors.
So, how do we overcome these issues listed below?
What happens when our parents don’t want us?
When we don’t feel loved?
When we are in situations where we can’t get people to do what we want?
When we don’t want to forgive or want others to forgive us?
When family secrets are a burden?
We change. We stop projecting what we want onto others and we change our perceptions and our own energy. We release karma, our ancestors’ burden and our own pain while facing them. We acknowledge our issues, we finally let go of emotions like anger, blame and shame, and we allow the flow of love to be restored. This creates our perceptions and the world we live in.
Family constellation helps to see these patterns, to reconcile and find a resolution so we can find and have our own internal power back. We can understand the hidden dynamics, honour them and release them. The more we do it, the more we become freer, lighter, in charge of our decisions, more compassionate towards ourselves and others, and more in tune with our emotions, our body and our intuition. The more we regain all of this, the more we create a new world for ourselves and we change vibration so we attract new people and new situations in our life.
I hope this has given you a deeper insight into the process of family constellation workshops, as well as encouraging you to explore ways of healing that will help you to fully participate in your own life and make the decisions that are right for you.