The foundation of systemic phenomenological work



Bibi Schreuder

Is co-owner and trainer at the Bert Hellinger institute Netherlands.

3 June 2020|

How do I make this world a (slightly) better place?

How do I make this world a (slightly) better place?

Dear E,

Sorry for not giving a reaction yet.
My attention first stayed on your last words: ‘make this world a (slightly) better place’.
Well, then my answer would be too short for a blog.
One of the assumptions of the systemic perspective is: change starts with taking the world as it is. ‘A better world’ implies that the world is not good.

When we look systemically at ideals for making a better world, we often see that ideals have the tendency to exclude. Excluding the world that is not better, so excluding the world as it is.
And this brings one in a position dissociated from (perhaps above) the world.

When you speak about ‘this world’. How many worlds are there? Now I feel an interesting connection with your question. ‘This world’ and ‘systemic perspective’.
We can see the world from many different perspectives and then we will see different worlds. A world from the perspective of someone who has lost work and income, from the perspective of the healthcare managing and controlling this pandemic, from the perspective of busy working people who all of a sudden are cut off from their controlled daily rhythm, and so on, all totally different worlds.

The systemic perspective is a perspective including all the differentiations, a perspective including ourselves in this world. Actually, the meaning of perspective doesn’t fit on systemic thinking, since perspective has the connotation of looking towards the world. The systemic way of looking is phenomenological: opening up for what is coming towards and even ín us. We cannot exclude ourselves from the world, we are part of what is happening now, what happened in the past and what will happen in the future.

When life flows smoothly, this way of being is not so difficult, but when life is confronting us with a lot of insecurity we human beings have the tendency to hope for the best. Hope as stronghold.

Systemically seen hope often is the packaging of an old survival mechanism. The survival mechanism of former generations who survived by looking at ‘the best’ and deleting ‘the worst’. This survival once was effective and becomes a pattern given through to later generations. But the fact that there are later generations is the proof that survival was successful and is not necessary anymore! Time to live!

When survival was necessary, often there was a traumatic event. And some aspects of trauma are fragmentation and standstill of time.
Meaning that one can be pulled in a traumatic situation in the past by a situation now. Sometimes traumatic situations of generations ago, of our ancestors or the history of our country for example.

Systemic way of seeing is including all the history of the past as just facts that happened. Giving up the illusions that we can change the past. Letting us been nourished by this complete history. Then turn our back to the past, opening the door for life to come through this complete history, flowing through us towards the future. Opening up for what life wants from us.

“who is without hope has everything”
Bert Hellinger.

Bibi Schreuder


Read here the whole message from E:

I am based in the UK (native Dutch) and have been in lock down, staying mostly at home for over 8 weeks now. At the start of lock down I was very hopeful that the world might actually become a better place post-covid 19 in view of the solidarity we saw in our communities. That hope feels so much more harder to sustain this far in, with i.a. the deteriorating human toll, financial misery of many and ‘blame games’ being played by many leaders. My musing: how do I take a more systemic perspective on this dynamic and how do I stay on course personally to make this world a (slightly) better place?

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