The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


10 September 2021| Other, Personal

Weeping hands

In front of him are pieces of paper on the floor, representing his father, mother, and four grandparents. It is an almost closed circle with the ‘eyes’ turned inward.

The young father walks around with the piece of paper with his own name on it, and says: “Well, I don’t fit in here…” and he puts it two meters away from the circle, looking the other way.

“Yes, that’s right, I am the odd one out,” he says when he sits down again.

I ask him about events in his family history that have made an impact.

“Well, we never talk about it. But what I can remember, is that my father was unable to work, and he had at least seven burn-out when I was still living at home. No idea what caused it. And when I got ill myself, I had hoped I could talk to him about it. But he closed up like an oyster. Now that I have a son myself, I can’t understand how you can close yourself off to your son like that.”

I let him speak it out aloud: “Dad, I miss you.”

He says it and immediately follows it with: “I am really mad at him!”

Then I try the next sentence: “Dad, I’d rather be angry with you than feel my own sadness.”

He doesn’t want to say it and in the meantime I wonder if I can achieve anything with this man.

I get a piece of paper and write something on it: ‘The real reason for Dad’s burn-out’. I ask him to give it a place somewhere. The piece of paper ends up right next to the chair he is sitting on.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he says, wiping his hands on his pants.

Now I let him speak: “Dad, I’ll carry it.”

Yes, but I don’t want to!

“It looks as if your hands are weeping, as long as you don’t feel any sadness.” It slips out. He looks at me in surprise. “You get sweaty hands, don’t you?”

I ask him to stand up and take the piece of paper with ‘The real reason for Dad’s burn-out’ in his hands and I make him say: “Dad, I have carried your fate for you for 32 years. But it’s your fate. I’m going to let it be your fate.”

He continues to stand there with the piece of paper in his hands and stays silent for 10 minutes. He keeps standing there, with the piece of paper in his hands.

After 10 minutes, I say: “You want to be more available to your son than your father was to you, right?”

He nods, with his eyes to the ground.

“Tell your son later, that you stood here with a piece of paper in your hands for ten minutes, or maybe fifteen minutes, because you did not dare to allow your father to carry his own fate.”

He wipes his hands on his pants again and mumbles: “Pff, this is such a struggle!”

After 15 minutes he finally puts the piece of paper down in the middle of the circle, right in front of his dad and in front of his grandparents. He sits down, exhausted, and rubs his hands. I can hear them sopping. “They’re really weeping huh?” I ask him. “Yes…”

I silently gesture him to turn his chair around and tell him: “Now you are in the here and now, the past is behind you, and the future in front of you. As long as you keep walking around with the fate of your father, your son will not be able to find you in the here and now.”

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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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