What are Family Constellations?
Family Constellation work is a gentle yet transformative process that unravels unconscious loyalties and stuck patterns of behavior. It bypasses the usual cognition to touch deep currents, while gently holding the heartbeat of the family lineage. We name and contextualize that which has been invisible, yet so in charge of these stuck patterns.
Each of us is born into a family system (or lineage) that spans many generations, and within each family system is an unspoken and often unconscious rulebook for what is acceptable in order to belong in that family.
Constellations reveal the unconscious contracts that our bodies make with our family systems and the world. We make these contracts so that we can be accepted and/or survive in our community. As we explore and release the constriction that results from these contracts, we experience a lightening and a broader horizon of possibility.
As the unconscious effects of being in our family system become conscious, the knots of previously unspoken entanglements are loosened. Rather than based on intellectual understanding, this healing is embodied, integrating the big picture of our family system. The emotional and physical pain that may have been carried for generations can release, allowing us to break free from unwanted patterns and lay them to rest. This “sense making” of our family history brings understanding to our brain (our brains love to be understood) and opportunities to make different choices.
Attachment research shows that parents pass on their brain use patterns to their children. As early as 4 months of age, a baby can read the emotional expression of his or her mom (or mothering person). Because we humans are wired to connect and be accepted, a baby will shut down their own authentic emotional expression in order to belong, and to try to balance their parents’ brains. This lays the groundwork for unconscious behaviors. In my family, anger was not an acceptable expression, and I grew up wondering why I couldn’t tolerate my own or other people’s anger. I spent most of my life crying instead of expressing anger because I had shut down my own anger circuit.
Our conscious awareness may not remember, but our nervous system, which is part of our brain, never forgets. Living from this unconscious rulebook can cause us to trip over our genuine intentions of creating prosperous and meaningful work in the world, successful relationships, vibrant health, creative expression, balance, and joy.
Through constellation work we look into what lives in our unconscious and gently move it to our conscious awareness. This helps our nervous system to regain its ability to self-regulate. We gain agency to walk in the world with a greater capacity for internal balance, ease, emotional safety, self-love, and warm connection with others.
What happens in a Family Constellation?
In a constellation we place people or objects to represent ourselves, issues, family members and other elements that are relevant to whatever healing or resolution is desired. By watching how these representatives interact with each other, and feeling into our body experience, we gain insight into the family dynamics and patterns that have shaped our relationships.
With this making sense and understanding that happens during a constellation, we often settle into a solution or a new clarity is revealed around our issue, freeing ourselves from a cycle of repeating unhealthy or undesired patterns of behavior.
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