The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


9 September 2020| Organizational Constellations, Other, Transformation

To distinguish a winding dividing line

After twenty years, Jan Jacob, the founder of the Bert Hellinger Institute Netherlands, decided to let go of BHIN and to continue on his own.

For twenty years, we have worked together as partners, as colleagues, as each other’s sounding board, and together we shaped the institute. And now he has left and I am staying, to continue the BHIN together with Barbara.
However, Jan Jacob and I are also a married couple, we remain interested in developing systemic work and we also jointly own the two buildings in Middelbert. We will continue to be good neighbours, is our message from the BHIN.

But I am not his neighbor, I am his wife. So, where is the dividing line? And does there need to be a dividing line? How do I deal with that dividing line and how does Jan Jacob deal with it?
And how do the others within the BHIN deal with my and his dividing line?

I am starting to realize that this movement has taught me the meaning of discernment. What is we and what is me and you? And what is we and you?
I always explain that when you speak about we, you indicate where you belong and where you do not belong. The personal conscience very simply translates that into what is good belongs to our system, and what is bad does not belong to us, but to “them”, they, or you (plural).

The personal conscience dictates a primary survival response to someone’s departure. So the easiest thing would be to have a lot of judgements about Jan Jacob and his departure, and to draw a clear dividing line between him and us. But that dividing line is winding and sometimes it is not there at all… We are both in the same system ánd in different systems. And it is not yet entirely clear which paths these different systems will follow.

The evolutionary force pulls on all of the systems involved, and potential evolution is likely to take place at different speeds in each system. Whether it’s because of COVID, or whether COVID is just a tiny part of a larger movement, it seems that all systems are adrift.
And I feel more and more that I – we? – hop from raft to raft and we regularly have to dive into the fresh water to get back to the other system. During that dive, I get refreshing ideas, and once I get back in the system, the old patterns overwhelm me… I feel the urge to keep everything together, but the fresh ideas also want space for creation. It seems like I have to learn and develop a new way of thinking. Thinking in which either-or does not exist, but in which and-and also requires a dividing line between the one and the other. The English language offers the meaningful word “beyond”. Beyond and-and, beyond everything. That also means that a lot is in the past, behind us. That hurts. And letting the past be the past gives so much space for creation! How do I get that together! Oh no, “don’t fight the waves, but let the waves carry you,” my father used to say…



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About the Bert Hellinger Institute

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.

For up-and-coming and established leaders. An initiative of the Bert Hellinger Institute.