A User’s Guide to Understanding and Employing Systems

Systemic Work & Constellations is both easy and logical. And it is also complex, multi-generational and multi-layered. I often get asked for a quick User’s Guide for navigating systems themselves, so here it is.

To be able to use a system to our highest advantage, we first need to know what one is and how it operates. A system is a grouping of elements within a common base. For example, your family members form a family system. Our laws form a legal system. Roads and highways form a transportation system. Planet Earth and all the other planets form our solar system.

Obviously, we are all part of many systems simultaneously. However, our family system has the greatest mental, emotional, physical and spiritual influence upon us. Therefore, it is considered the primary influence and pattern maker in our lives. This is true, even when we don’t know our family consciously and/or are adopted. Religions, cultures, countries, businesses, economic systems and more are secondary systems that have a strong effect—just not one equal to that of our genetic family and the family that raised us.     

All systems have their own languages, governing principles, patterns, and rules. The systemic approach takes every aspect and member of the system in its entirety into account when dealing with an issue within the system. No one member of a system stands alone, in isolation from the whole without it affecting the rest of the system. Everyone belongs. The system itself is a whole—the sum total of its many aspects and parts.

Systemic facilitators use a 3D mapping process known as “a constellation” to dimensionalize issues and reveal previously unknown/invisible patterns, relationships, images, and ideas we carry about events and other members of the system, as well as our conclusions and reactions to them. If we imagine a family system being like a star constellation in the night sky, you get the idea. Each family member has a “fixed” position within the family system/constellation in relation to all the other members (stars).

(I will outline a DIY constellation in the next blog this month so you can do one on a personal issue for yourself. So, stay tuned!)

However, patterns are unique to every member of the family system. Why? Because your mother, father, brother, sister and Aunt Alice all have their own unique experiences and relationship dynamics growing up in your family system. So, how each one of these family members views the family system itself is going to be different. If asked to create a constellation, every member of the family would create a different-looking pattern!

The point is, creating a physical image using representatives to stand in for family members, (you can use people, pieces of paper with family member names written on them, playing cards, whatever you can come up with) enables you to explore your family system and the relationships, tensions, opportunities and issues within it. But remember, the constellation you create will reflect the family system as you unconsciously perceive it.

The key word here is “unconsciously.” The whole purpose of a constellation is to give you the opportunity to identify (make conscious) the decisions, wounds and obstacles and/or opportunities and issues that are there for you. It’s an experiential approach that enables you to explore “what is” in order to move to “what’s possible” by making the unconscious conscious and the invisible visible.

This multisensory approach facilitates an embodied experience and visceral “ahas!” that shift perception, spark the brain to start rewiring, stimulate the heart to open and the gut to relax. By allowing unconscious patterns to reveal themselves in a constellation, both mind and body align to a new truth, igniting new possibilities.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll show you how to create a family constellation and examine an issue for yourself!