g a t h e r i n g s

What's the problem?

People tend to reach out for help with problems. The editorial eye has located a dilemma, isolated it, and the logical step is to attempt to address it, or rather, to redress it. And helpful efforts sometimes do exactly that; re-dress it. The identified issue slips into a different guise so that for a moment it seems as though it is gone, when alas it has simply shapeshifted. Then the cycle goes on, we blame the helper, the method, the timing, back to the parents, the past, and on and on. We keep busy; we stay comfortable – and not.

A solely cognitive perspective has little opportunity to influence the feelings being carried now but that have their roots in images selected in early childhood.

The problem is an abbreviation for many things at play, especially for the multiple currents of the past that may have created a sense of faulty security. When sadness or anger or fear is at the center of the systemic picture, for example, the early understanding may be that it is not okay to proceed freely, or perhaps to proceed at all. But when we meet someone in the midst of the effect, it is often difficult to understand why that person keeps missing opportunities to fix his circumstances, adjust her attitude, count his blessings, change her ways. As observers outside the deepest sphere of influence, we cannot really comprehend what is at work; often, we simply accept the problem as the problem, do our best to convince the other of the solution, and become frustrated when our good advice is rejected (or are unrealistically satisfied when it looks as though it is accepted).

From outside, we may recognize the consequence, but we cannot imagine the undertow. From outside, we may be able to retrace patterns, track certain dynamics, but still we cannot feel the weight of silent forces that anchor those patterns and cause people to replicate dynamics. So, knowing why people don’t, won’t, can’t requires that we enter their sphere somehow.

Family constellations provide a door into hidden passageways of people’s systems. On the simplest level, they show what is being held in the body and the mind of the client, the multiple influences being carried internally. Somewhere the feelings and behaviors make perfect sense. Constellations help us see where. They “dimensionalize” what is not in the conscious awareness of the person and provide relief even just in that. It is a relief to allow things to take shape before one’s eyes rather than behind them.

On another level, when we seek to escape the challenges of our background by running away or cutting off, we leave behind the good as well. We trade in one kind of pain for another, turning our backs on difficult dynamics only to find ourselves alone, even as we reach out to others. Loneliness begs for what it cannot give. And in that, it is frightening to people, at least people who are filled with life and love. That is, one may attract others who are depleted, angry, alone.