We usually read something about Constellation approach and so we are intrigued and encouraged to undertake further personal research. Or we hear about constellations from acquaintances who already have had some positive experience and are recommending them. A number of people come across this method during their education for psychotherapists or in other disciplines in which this approach is applied. However, when we start to get to know the constellation approach, each of us brings the whole of our life experience, accumulated acquired knowledge as well as all learned patterns with which we relate to the world: our world view, prejudices, expectations, ways to cope with unmet expectations, hopes, desires, plans, fears, defence mechanisms, trust or distrust. Each of us has our own style of “being in the world”. This style comes to light with the first steps into the world of constellations, often already in the first query or signing up for the workshop.
So there are those who wish to attend, but do not want to pay the full price, often with the explanation that they only want to be guests or just observers. However, in constellations, as well as in life, of course, there are no guests or observers. And all those who want to be in life fully must of course accept the full price for their lives, whatever that means for each and every one of us.
Then there are those who want to transfer all the responsibility for their attendance, for their own work, as well as for the outcome (for its “success” or “failure”) to the facilitator. Others want to keep control in every way, so they know in advance what they want from a constellation, as well as what constellations can or can’t give them. They also know exactly what they should work on. They plan in advance and require from the facilitator to deliver what they want, rather than what is really necessary. What they really want is to manipulate the facilitator so that they do not have to change. In any case, the facilitator, as the most exposed aspect of the work is often exposed to such attempts of manipulation and control, sometimes even to hidden, or not so hidden, aggression.
The entire constellation approach is also occasionally exposed to sharp criticism from many sides. Most commonly from psychotherapists who also want to control it and who reject all aspects of this approach which does not fit into the scientific paradigm of their profession. They want to present constellations as just another psychotherapy method which can be safely practiced only in the context of their discipline. So, the first thing they have to do is to throw the soul out of constellation work. And what is constellation work without a soul!?! Only a technique which can then easily be put into the pocket of a psychotherapy cloak.
Constellation approach, if practiced faithfully and with integrity, cannot be planned, controlled or manipulated; neither submitted to our will, our thinking and attitudes. And this is precisely one of the biggest challenges for many: giving up control. This does not mean we should hand over control to a facilitator, neither to constellation approach itself, but to something bigger than us, accepting with humbleness the forces of nature that govern our world and our relationships. A facilitator who does not feel this humbleness himself, will easily be manipulated. Rightfully so. Also, if the facilitator’s primarily goal is to be liked by others, to satisfy them, as well as to achieve material or other gain through this work, then he will be an easy target for those who want to have control over constellations. Sometimes people prefer such facilitators and are willing to pay even more just to stay in control and not have to change.
Some in constellations see the new God. Others their replacement family- this time a good and just one, warm and close, without neglect, trauma, abuse and the abusers. Often, of course, we are looking for different parents instead of those we have, expecting from constellations (and facilitators!) to be rescued, pitied or supported in our “just” condemnation and rejection of others.
Some fall in love with Constellations at the first sight, like with a partner (who usually they do not have) and some see them as an emergency exit from an unhappy marriage or professional failure. Some in Constellations see a new profession or source of income, status or power that could not be achieved through other means.
All this might seem possible for some time, but is unavoidably followed by disappointment in the long run. Constellation approach will inevitably change us, force us to get rid of such desires; or it will simply get rid of us . In one way or another it will show us “who the boss is”.
Some only want another certificate or diploma from yet another technique, so that they can become an expert from yet another approach. Either because it brings the prestige and advantage over others, or so that they could better “help others “. Compulsive helpers will often obtain many diplomas and go to many different schools in order to satisfy their unconscious need to help someone in their family, rather than face the dynamic which lies behind such efforts.
Through constellations many want to save others, and sometimes even the whole world. If nothing else, at least change it for the better, so that there are no abused children, no aggressive men, emotionally cold mothers, nor killing and wars. Some run into constellations running away from the aggressor or from their own aggression.
Some want to rise “above it all “, even above the forces of life and death that are in charge and which show themselves here. They already know it all, as they have already worked a lot “on themselves “, and have already been on the “spiritual path “. As if they have acquired some special privilege with these forces, as if the rules of this Earth do not apply to them, as if they themselves are friends or lovers of these forces, as if they were at the same level with these forces, so they can behave towards them this way or another, according to their will and whim. So, they can agree or disagree with them. Even these “spiritual people” remain surprised by the depths to which Constellations take us and by the new insights, both personal and spiritual in nature which are gained through them.
Whichever of these styles we have, the encounter with constellations will present it with a challenge to which we will have to find the answer, also in keeping with our style. So, we will run away or belittle, get angry, feel hurt or belittled, used, perhaps even abused, re-traumatized and disappointed. Or we feel enthusiastic, in love, express enlightened, enthralled, astonished, surprised, isolated, connected, complete, envious, superior, chosen, special, confused or offended.
One thing is certain: the encounter with constellations will be challenging for our worldview. And we will somehow have to respond to this challenge. The way we choose will depend on our style of being in the world and on our ability to grow and change. Those who persevere on this path have to count with constant challenges that will not always be pleasant and that will require constant cleansing. This process that involves the purification of the senses, of the will and the spirit is time-consuming and not always easy. This path is for the persistent only, but above all for those who are humble and patient, for those who know that:
“soft water with time defeats the mighty hard stone, so that hard is weak and that immaterial enters where there is no space, those who appreciate doing without doing. Those who know that teaching without words and doing without action is understood by the few.” ( Tao Te Ching , number 43 ) .
The experience of constellations will, therefore, be what we make of it. It is true that constellations can be a door to that which is most essential, but only for those who stumble upon them in the darkness of ignorance. And for those who are patient or brave or desperate enough, in any case prepared for a long wandering without clear guidelines or goals. The door is, of course, here for all .
Once we go through our dark night of the soul and pass through the doors of purification, we discover ourselves different, cleaner, more complete. At the same time deeply connected and independent.
Then we turn to life as it is and we become fully open for its challenges and gifts, at peace with everything exactly as it is, we live effortlessly from this empty center, in harmony, being one with everything at the same time.
How? With constant challenge to live from that center, in harmony with our deepest nature.
Constellations can help us find the way to such a center. How? Truthfully and with love, of course!