The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


15 January 2021| Personal

“After frustration comes development!”

This is what I told a colleague today, who was frustrated with the technology of her new laptop. And when I thought about it a little longer tonight, I realized how true it actually is.

It is already starts when you grow up from baby to toddler to a child… and so on. Every time before the next development is manifest, there is frustration and whining. And even then, there is often a kind of developmental regression first. (How happy I was as a young parent with a book that described the developmental stages of children!)

And pre-developmental regression is more common. For example, my baseball-playing son suddenly had a few training sessions and a match in a row last year where, in his eyes, he played very bad. But the following week, his game really took a quantum leap forward. He had reached the next level. By the way, I believe that is how it works when he is gaming, since the regression and accompanying frustration can be heard everywhere in our house ;-).

Last year, I experienced it a few times myself. The most prominent example is that I agreed to conduct a one-hour workshop at a conference for systemic colleagues. I had sent an email to the organization with the subject and a short description. The weeks before the conference was to take place, I started the substantive preparations. And I really started to wonder how on earth I could have come up with that subject! I had never done anything related to it before and the inspiration was hard to find. I wrote a draft anyway, shared it with a colleague, and I got a response which read like “hmmm…interesting…”. I translated this to “not good enough by far”, and adjusted the setup. Two days before I had to do the workshop, I showed it to the same colleague again and explained what my plan was. “Hmm Bar, what’s systemic about this?” Grrr … @@##!!@!

Ironically, the subject of the workshop was Flow. It was hard to find, that flow. Back to the drawing board. And then I had it, suddenly I saw through the subject of flow and the interaction of the three mechanisms that are active in systems, and a workshop design resulted.

And now comes the best part, because the frustration brought huge development! This exercise has helped me fathom systemic work at yet a deeper layer. I feel and understand even more clearly what It is that I am doing. As a result, we explain a number of subjects somewhat differently within our institute. As a result, we adapted our basic training. So it was worth the frustration.

Do I feel like another dose of frustration? Well not immediately, but when it presents itself, I just trust it will spur on development…


Barbara Hoogenboom

5 January 2021

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People are constantly evolving. With each other, without each other. In families, in teams, in organizations. Systemic thinking makes us aware of the “why” of our being and doing. Organizational and family constellations create room for movement. The BHI provides courses, workshops and training programs in the field of systemic work, constellations, leadership and coaching. This is how we contribute to the development of people, organizations and society.

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