The negative impact of previous relationships on your current relationship

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: jens-lelie-u0vgcIOQG08-unsplash.jpg

In last month’s blogs, you could read about events that took place in your current relationship that have a negative impact on the course of your current relationship. In this blog, you will read about the second level: the impact of previous relationships on your existing relationship.

How can a previous relationship impact your current relationship?
Unfinished separation

Partners are connected on three levels:

  • Mentally: the image we have in mind of our partner or the image of how we think our partner should be.
  • Emotionally: the connection from the heart: ‘I love you, and I want someone to love me as well.’
  • Erotically: the sexual attraction and the sex between the two partners.

A good break-up recognizes all three layers of commitment. Therefore, a good break-up takes responsibility for each layer. The connection has to be broken on all three levels. We can do this with a Familyconstellation or a Systemic Ritual, but more on that later.

A previous relationship may obstruct the current relationship. This usually means that the previous relationship did not end well. There has not been a proper farewell to each other and/or the previous partner(s) are not respected.

A breakup can be difficult if the partners still expect something from each other. Think of acknowledgement, gratitude for the time they have had together or the valuable things they gave each other such as love and experiences.

Generally speaking, separating from a partner with whom someone had their first sexual contact, is the most difficult. This is usually the relationship with the most significant impact.

Even if partners have been separated for years, if the separation has not taken place properly, it is unfinished. This obstructs a new relationship.

Factors that form an obstacle to landing in a new relationship

Some factors related to previous relationships can obstruct a new relationship, such as:

  • Intense, insufficiently processed events from previous relationships, such as abortion, miscarriage, stillborn or passed child. Events like this are mostly the cause of the growing apart of partners because they cannot manage to carry the loss together. Situations like those described above make the partners stay connected to one another on a certain level. This connection obstructs a new relationship.
  • We also often see that a new relationship is more difficult for one partner when his or her former partner does not start a new relationship and remains unhappy.
The impact on descendants

Unfinished break-ups affect not only the involved partners and their following relationship but also affect descendants.

Children of the next generation can identify themselves with ex-partners when those ex-partners are being left out, denied or suppressed. This is how a system ensures that this person will not be forgotten. Unfortunately, this means that our children or grandchildren will live the fate of ex-partners.

Healing motion and healing sentences
There are a couple of ways to break free from a previous relationship, that I’ll guide you through during a family constellation or Systemic Ritual. Your ex-partner doesn’t have to be present. This is your inner process that will work systemically.

Events that have an impact on your relationship – Part 2

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: shelby-deeter–XlBjdtRqK8-unsplash.jpg

In the previous blog, I wrote about balance and disbalance in relationships and what impact this has on a relationship. It is about giving and taking, but what if one person gives much more than the other? I’ll tell you more in this blog by describing situations that impact the current relationship if nobody pays attention to it.

Sexual needs

There can be a disbalance in the need for sex. In general, one of the partners has a higher sex drive than the other. What helps is that the other person then says: “Thank you for your need for me. Even when I am – at this moment – not available for you.”

In general, an affair is a symptom of something missing in a relationship. A good sentence for the partner who cheated on his/her partner can be:
“I had an affair, but what I was looking for in this other person, I wished to get from you.”

The other person can answer with:
“I’m sorry I didn’t have enough attention for you.”

Both partners have to take up their share of the responsibility for what happened. This way, the guilt will be shared. A form of revenge can be needed from the other person to let the love flow again. An appropriate compensation can be to confide in a friend and tell him/her about the situation.

Abortion (or miscarriage)
Abortion has a lot of impact on a relationship. This is often overlooked. The aborted child must be given a place in the family. The relationship is at risk in the event of an abortion or a miscarriage, unless the parents take responsibility and grieve together.

Healing sentences can be – in the case of abortion: “We have both asked you to leave and we carry our responsibility. We now take you in our hearts completely and grieve together.”

In case of a spontaneous miscarriage: “We would have loved to see you come into our lives, but unfortunately, you had to leave. You have a spot in our hearts and in our family. We carry this loss together and grieve together.”

Sometimes a woman terminates the pregnancy without telling her partner. This, too, has to be acknowledged.

When one of the partners is infertile in a heterosexual relationship, it can become a big problem for both partners.

Healing sentences are when the infertile partner says to the other: “This is my fate. I carry it completely. You are free to stay, but you are also free to go.” If the partner stays: “Thank you for staying. This is a big gift to me.”

Partners of equal sex who want to have a baby, need a third party who donates the sperm or egg, or wants to carry the baby until it is born (in a man-man relationship). It is of great interest for the partners and the child that this third person is acknowledged and honoured. This also counts for heterosexual couples who have had a baby through a donor.

Mixed families
A huge change will happen when two families come together, and partners bring children from a former relationship. The former partners must have a place in the new, mixed family.

Constellations can help in such a case because they offer a multidimensional perspective for mixed families. The question for all people (partners, children) is usually: “Where is my place?”

For a facilitator of the constellation, it is important to look for that order which brings the most harmony between all people involved. It is crucial to keep the natural order in mind. There are some ‘rules’ for this natural order. These rules were developed from and have been proven to be the most harmonious in thousands of family constellations.

An important finding is that a new family system takes precedence over an earlier family system. This means that a new relationship from which children are born takes precedence over the previous family system. However, the children born in an earlier relationship of a partner have priority over the new partner.

Healing sentences for the new partner can include: “I chose you with your children. We all come together. I agree that you give your children precedence over me, as I came into your lives at a later stage.”

This was level 1 of systemic impact: what happened in the current relationship that didn’t get any attention.
In the next blog, I’ll describe level 2 of systemic impact: previous relationships.

Events that have an impact on your relationship – Part 1

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: Andrik-langfield–kCQwY1rd6I-unsplash.jpg

Various events that happen while being in a relationship have an impact on that relationship. This can be an affair, the loss of a job, the passing of one of the parents, or a disbalance in giving and taking. In the following few blogs, I’ll tell you everything about the different levels of impact. Today I’ll describe the first level: what happened in the current relationship that didn’t get any attention?

The feeling of being incomplete

Attraction is the driving force behind the start of a relationship.

Everyone has, in their subconscious, an image of what he/she finds attractive. But we mainly look for someone who makes us complete. We look for someone who has qualities that we appreciate or that we haven’t yet developed ourselves.

In a relationship, it is important that the needs of both partners towards each other are equal. The man or woman wishes that his or her partner needs him or her as much as she/he needs him/her. This requires the feeling of ‘being incomplete’. A feeling that many people have.

If each partner sees the qualities in the other person that he/she wants, then he/she can see the other one as the one who makes him/her complete or who complements him/her with the qualities that he/she wants so desperately. This forms a good start for a relationship. It makes space for gratitude.


What if we look for qualities about status, like money, wealth or an important position in society? This is when a power complex arises. The ‘richer’ person in the relationship has power, but the other person doesn’t. In many of these cases, the relationship won’t develop and won’t be everlasting. The same goes for relationships in which partners have a significant age difference (>15 years). The danger that one person will take up a parent role or the risk of repeating a parent-child pattern sneaks around the corner. We have read that in this blog as well.

If there is a mutual balance – equality in the relationship – then we have the right conditions for equal power distribution and intimacy. This will strengthen the relationship in the longer term.

But what if that mutual balance isn’t there? There can be times when one person gives more than the other. This has to be acknowledged, and the balance has to be restored at a later stage. One time one person gives, another time the other person gives. This makes a relationship grow. It grows when one person gives a bit more than the other. Because the other received more, he/she will feel ‘guilty’. The need to give back arises in order to let go of the ‘guilt. This is how the bond between partners grows.

However: from this perspective, even every misstep has to be compensated. In that case in a lower dose. Compensation must take place in a way that both partners win back their dignity and share their guilt. From this perspective, any harmful act has to be answered with some sort of revenge. The other person also does something painful, but it has to be less painful than what the other person has caused. I will give an example later.
In the interest of love, we have to restore the balance, even if this asks for a harmful approach. Reconciliation means that the two partners create a new starting point, fed by the wish of staying together.

Each couple has its own balance
The skill of giving and taking is taught at a very young age in the family that we are born into and is strongly related to our relationship with our parents. Furthermore, each partner can only give as much as the other can receive and ask as much as the other person can give.

Each couple has to find its own balance. We tend to look for someone who matches us. If you’re good at giving, you’ll probably meet someone good at receiving. This is how you create balance in some aspects. Actually, together you create a disbalance by which both of you feel happy. Of course, in this case, the couple has to take care that the disbalance won’t grow too big. It is good as long as both feel happy with it.

A significant disbalance in giving and taking can disturb relationships.
As an example: It can be that one of the partners made a huge sacrifice for the relationship: leaving a country and family behind or breaking up a career.
Especially in those cases, there must be acknowledgement and gratitude for this sacrifice. Sometimes the disbalance in giving and taking can only be acknowledged because the other person simply can’t restore the balance. The only solution here is gratitude towards the other. If there is an overwhelming disbalance, gratitude is essential to the solution.

In this blog, I described level 1 of the systemic impact on relationships: what happened in the current relationship that didn’t get enough attention? Each couple has to find balance, but what if there is a significant disbalance? In the next blog, I’ll describe several examples of such a disbalance: the difference in sexual needs, but also the impact of an abortion or miscarriage, an affair, infertility or mixed families.

The veil between the material world and the ‘other world’.

We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors.
African saying.

It is said that around the beginning of November, the veil between the living or the material world and the world of the deaths /gods/saints/spirits or the ‘other world’ is at its thinnest and that on these days, contact with the other world can be most easily accomplished.


Early November is on the Wheel of the four directions the moment where we move from the West to the North – actually the beginning of winter. The boundary between West and North is also the boundary of the living and the deaths. The West is the place of the elderly; the North is the place of the deaths and the immaterial existence.
We see that at the beginning of November, the transition from the direction of the West to the direction of the North is central. Hence probably the idea that the veil between the two worlds is paper-thin at this time. At least this applies to the Northern Hemisphere. It is different in the southern hemisphere (sun in the North). And that will be different for countries between the equator and the tropics.

Various myths tell about this, and traditionally different cultures have rituals that have to do with ‘the other side’ in this period. For example, the Celts and Germans celebrated festivals like Samhain these days. Likewise, it’s the time of Halloween, All Saints’ Day (November 1), All Souls’ Day (November 2) and the Dia de Los Muertos (Mexican Day of the Death). All these celebrations have the same theme, namely the commemoration and tribute to the deceased.



The ancient Celts and Teutons celebrated the beginning of winter and the new year around October 31 – the exact date differed by tribe and region. The celebration of Samhain (Celtic New Year) traditionally begins at sunset on October 31 and lasts for three days.
Since – according to the Celts – during this period the division between the world of the deaths and our world is paper-thin, the Celts believed that the deaths are present in our world during Samhain. So it is the best time to commemorate and honour the deceased. The ancestors are welcomed during this festival with fires outside and inside the hearth fires. On Samhain, the table is set again for deceased family members. A plate with a napkin is placed on the altar to welcome the deceased and food is placed on the altar. Food can also be left outside for the deaths.
However, it was not a sad feast but a joyous feast with amusement, entertainment, food, and drink. During Samhain, the life of the ancestors is celebrated, and they become involved with the living. The ancestors are consulted and receive not only food but also gifts. Actually, a very nice way to deal with the deceased, to honour their place and to process their loss.
It is not only a celebration to honour and commemorate the deceased, but a celebration of all spirits and nature spirits. They also show themselves during this period.
Around this period, the harvests is brought in and stored. Some of the cattle are put back into stables and some are slaughtered to add to the food supply needed to get through the winter. The slaughtered flesh was also offered to the Gods, nature spirits and ancestors.
Therefore, Samhain is also a closing harvest, slaughter festival, and thanksgiving to the Gods, nature spirits, and ancestors for the harvest obtained.

Halloween – All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Evening.

Halloween is associated with the Samhain festival. Irish and Scots who immigrated to the United States and Canada in the 19th century took the Halloween celebration with them. Today it is ‘celebrated’ by almost everyone in the US and Canada and has also been ‘blown’ back to Europe.


All Saints and All Souls

All Saints Day – November 1 – is a Christian holiday. On this day, all saints are commemorated and venerated in the Roman Catholic Church. During All Souls’ Day – on November 2 – all the deceased are commemorated.
At the beginning of November, there was also a ‘holiday’ in the agricultural sector in the Netherlands. That was a day of thanksgiving for the harvest. This took place on the first Wednesday of the month.
Until the beginning of the 7th century, All Saints’ Day fell on May 13. But to gain more acceptance for Christianity among the people, the festival has been moved to November 1. By celebrating the Feast of the Departed Saints on November 1, followed by the All Souls’ Day on November 2, these Christian festivals blended more easily with the original traditions of the people. Moreover, that made it easier for the church to “win souls”.

Dia de Los Muertos

In Mexico and, to a lesser extent, other countries of Central America, the Dia de Los Muertos takes place at the beginning of November. A 3-day festival in which the deaths are commemorated and honoured. This festival has its origins within the Central American Indian people.
In many aspects, it resembles Samhain. Here too, it is not a sad event but a joyful celebration. Altars are made for the deceased, on which food, drinks and gifts are placed. Life is celebrated both indoors and outdoors – in the cemetery. There is singing, eating and dancing.
Initially, this festival took place in early August. Under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, this festival was ‘moved’ to the beginning of November to coincide with the Roman Catholic Remembrance Day.
Early August is an interesting time for Central America. Around June 21, the sun is perpendicular to the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. For Central America, that is the North. At the beginning of August, the sun is almost perpendicular to Central America. Then the sun moves south again. From the beginning of May to the beginning of August, Central America has the sun in the North. Then the sun shifts south again. Initially, that was the moment of the Dia de Los Muertos.

Systemic Ritual with Ancestors

Overall, the month of November seems to be a suitable month for ancestor rituals and contact with souls. I participate in that by giving an ONLINE workshop series of 5 Saturday afternoons: Systemic Ritual with family themes and ancestors (basic)
This series starts on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. Dutch time), November 5, 2022, and consists of 5 ONLINE workshops.

For more information and registration, see: /systemic-ritual-with-family-themes-and-ancestors/

If you are interested in the whole course Systemic Ritual – see:

Inspired by:

Attachment: a short introduction

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: Ioann Mark Kuznietsov, published on Unsplash

In an earlier published blog, you read about power in relationships and the fact that every relationship finds itself in a cross-cultural war: two people who come together in a relationship leave their family norms and values behind so they can ‘walk a new path’ together. That process quite often comes with fights. Not only because both partners leave the ‘rules’ of their family of origin behind, but also because one partner wants something from the other that he or she couldn’t get from his/her parents.

Fill the emptiness

In this previous blog you have read that everyone has an empty jar of needs that they want to be filled by something or someone else. This is why we have subconscious expectations towards a partner: you try to get something that you didn’t get from your parents. But that is not how it works.

To build on a strong partner relationship, both have to heal, be aware, grow up and act as adults. If we want something from the other person that we didn’t get from our parents, we keep hanging on to a parent-child relationship: we keep asking for something that the other person can never give us. This is an important source of frustration, irritation and aggression. A source that may lead to you pushing away your partner.

The influence on partner relationships

So there are many factors influencing your relationship. The attachment you have with your parents is of great influence as well. The attachment style as we experienced it together with our parents, determines how we see relationships. Think of it as a lens through which we see and experience relationships. The attachment style you have determines how safe you think relationships are.

There are four styles to which I give you a short introduction.

Secure attachment

These people are in touch with their feelings, are competent and have successful relationships in general. Besides that, they are trustworthy and consistent and they take decisions together with their partner. They are flexible, communicate clearly and are not afraid of commitment.

Avoidant attachment

To protect themselves, these people have learned to push other people away. Feelings are locked away and they count on nobody except for themselves. To them, a relationship equals a loss of freedom. Besides that, they have unrealistic beliefs about what a romantic relationship should look like.

Ambivalent attachment

These people are the opposite: they want to be in a relationship and are constantly worried that people won’t like them or even that they will leave them. They desperately want to be close to the other person. They are unhappy when they’re not in a relationship, are afraid of rejection and communicate poorly.


These adults feel the need to connect to others. But: being close to someone and working on intimacy feels too overwhelming and threatening. It can even lead to them ignoring intimacy at all.

How to work with attachment disorders

Regular psychology has done tons of research on attachment disorders and interventions. A family constellation can be very useful when you want to look at hidden identifications and entanglements. Other types of therapy can be helpful as well when you want to help someone with an attachment disorder and help couples with their communication. However, it is advised to do a family constellation additionally to other therapy and not as a stand-alone intervention when an attachment disorder is clear.

A Systemic Ritual can help make you strong and give back your confidence. We do exercises to make the love flow after a traumatic break of trust – think of hospitalization shortly after birth or premature birth – and to give back safety and basic trust.

During the online workshops, you can get to know Systemic Ritual at an entry-level. I’ll tell you more about systemic constellations and rituals, but we will mainly do some constellations or practices so you can experience how it works and what it can do for you. Do you want more and live? Click here for the workshop series ‘Hidden Dynamics’.


Delfos, M.F: Ontwikkeling in vogelvlucht. Ontwikkeling van kinderen en adolescenten. (development at a glance. Development of children and adolescents)

Systemic Ritual for cross-cultural and non-traditional relationships

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: Maico Pereira, published on Unsplash

We are all programmed to do everything we can to belong to a group. Our existence depends on it: we have to be part of a group to survive. We come from our family of origin – the first and usually most important group to which we belong – with deep attachments. Family and cultural norms and values can be added on top of that. This can be tricky if you find a partner who, logically, brings his or her own family values. And how does that work in a cross-cultural or non-traditional relationship? That makes it even more complicated.

Loyalty to our family of origin
The family norms we have, are partially explicitly taught via our upbringing. However, they are taught implicitly for the biggest part. This starts with our existence in the womb, goes on through our childhood and goes even further. This is why everyone is loyal to his or her parents and that value system.


When two people come together and start being a couple, both of them will have that loyalty to their family of origin. Two different perspectives come together, that will want to move forward on a shared path. This is only possible when both partners are open to it and when they commit themselves to create that third path. Only then, they can move forward as a couple.

When these people come together as a couple, they both have to let go of a part of the conscience of the family group; they leave the codes of their family of origin behind. If they don’t do that, there will be fights: a power battle in which one of them wants to be right and the other one will be wrong. This battle is usually not solvable based on content, because the two people involved are unaware of the exact content. This means that every relationship or marriage is in a cross-cultural war. Even when both partners speak the same language, have the same skin colour and/or believe in the same religion. Each family has their own norms, values and loyalties, which we partially leave behind when starting a new relationship. Naturally, this brings along a feeling of guilt.

An actual cross-cultural relationship, which means a relationship in which the partners come from different countries, and have different religions or cultures, comes with extra challenges. I’ll explain why.

Where two cultures or religions sleep on one pillow, the devil sleeps between them.

The above title is an old Dutch saying, meaning that when people from two cultures or religions come together in a relationship, it almost never goes right.

Power usually plays a role in cross-cultural relationships. But there must be a balance between both partners to experience real intimacy. Think about money: one person has it, and the other doesn’t. Who has the power? Precisely, the person with the money. Because money equals power.


Another critical aspect in a cross-cultural relationship is language. How much balance is there if you have to speak in a different language than your own? What is it like to have a partner who speaks a different language? What is it like if you live in a foreign country, possibly far away from your family of origin and from everything you know?

It also happens that the family of one partner – or both families – disapprove of the relationship, for example when it comes to religion. A loyalty conflict arises.

Relationships with non-traditional couples
Relationships can be cross-cultural, but if you put that aside, there are basically three types of couples:

  • Man/ woman;
  • Man/ man;
  • Woman/ woman;

More variations are possible, of course; think about trans man/ woman, etc.

We know the man/ woman couple well: this is the traditional type. This relationship can be quite complex, as we’ve read in this blog. The relationship between partners who are in a non-traditional relationship is even more complicated.

The orders of love, as Hellinger found, came from observations of heterosexual couples during constellations. But through ages and cultures, it turned out that relationships were much more diverse than this and that everything and everyone has to be included.

In the past and often in the present, non-traditional relationships have to stay hidden. This brings along a lot of collective trauma, coming from discrimination and persecution.

We still live in a world dominated by ‘being straight’. This is still the norm and seems superior. This means that people who are not straight, don’t really recognize themselves in the current society. Because of those current norms, people who are not straight have (almost) no examples of how to deal with relationships, separations, children, etc.

How to support those groups with Systemic work?
A lot of research still has to be done on how to support those groups. Connecting with ancestors from different times or cultures, or connecting them with ancestors who have walked the same path are good options.

If you find yourself struggling with this, because you’re in a cross-cultural or non-traditional relationship, we can support you with a Systemic Ritual.

During the online workshops, you can get to know Systemic Ritual at an entry-level. I’ll tell you more about systemic constellations and rituals, but we will mainly do some constellations or practices so you can experience how it works and what it can do for you. Do you want more and live? Click here for the workshop series ‘Hidden Dynamics’.

The parent-child relationship and the impact on partner relationships

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: Laura Fuhrman, published on Unsplash

Not a single parent is perfect. Even if your father and mother would have been some kind of Buddhas, they wouldn’t have been ideal for you. Even Buddhas aren’t capable of giving a child what it needs, since the needs of a child are endless. Besides that, parents have their obligations and responsibilities towards their children. This means that they can’t just fulfil all their child’s needs. The result is that everyone of us has a jar of unfulfilled needs that has to be filled by something or someone else.

Falling in blind love
As we get older, we fall in love. Hormones are flying around, and this magical feeling arises: there is the one who can heal you and who can fill that jar of unfulfilled needs.

But the thing is: you don’t see that other person at all, and that person doesn’t see you either. You see someone who loves you until the end of time, but that comes from your own needs and desires. Each desire muddles the perception.

We already know that the state of being in love doesn’t last forever, but that it is a feeling driven by hormones. After a while, disappointment comes around the corner, and from that state comes rage. As you can read in the previous blog post, this is mainly old rage from someone’s childhood or rage coming from transgenerational connections. The rage that comes from old pain and is being projected onto someone else in the current time, is called ‘transference’ in psychoanalysis.

Dynamics in relations based on childhood patterns
The rage from someone’s childhood or transgenerational connections, where does that come from?

Women have expectations towards their partner, unknowingly. He has to have something from her father, but also from her mother. She sees both of them in her partner.

When a woman is frustrated with her husband, she’ll have a deep desire for her own father and mother. In her mind, the connection with her father was not complete, and she’ll want to fill this void via her husband. But that turned out to be a fairytale. So when this woman has a son, she’ll focus her desire for male energy on the son, since she couldn’t find that with her father and husband.

The same happens with a man who turns into the father of a girl. The thing he hoped to find with his mother (and later with his wife) but could not get from the both of them, he’ll start looking for with his daughter.

This way, children are being used for something that they’re not. Those children can easily feel the needs of their parents and are so loyal and full of love towards them that they want to fulfil their parents’ needs. However, they know that something is wrong and that they are being used. Eventually, this abuse will drive them to rage, usually hidden. This rage has to come out at some point, and it will be projected onto someone else.

The woman, her father’s princess, will have difficulties with men. The rage that was destined for her father, will be targeted toward other men. The men, their mothers’ princes, will feel the same. They will have trouble in relationships because the man is unknowingly mad at his mother. He projects his rage toward other women.

But then what? What if you target your rage against someone else?

  • You’ll break up your relationship and try it with someone else;
  • You’ll get frustrated and lose all hope after trying multiple times. You give up;
  • Or: you research your own patterns and come to new perspectives. You have to heal something within yourself, be aware of that and change yourself.

Healing movement and sentences
To heal the rage within you, you can do a constellation. In a constellation, we can make the dynamics between mother/son or father/daughter visible. As a healing sentence, the ‘parent’ can say: “I gave you what I could give you.”

The parent (representative of) who says that, has to be confident and in strength. A strong parent is what a child needs.

Connecting with someone else is not only taught by our parents or caregivers, but is also influenced by intergenerational trauma, that we can research with family constellations or Systemic Ritual.

Want to know more?
As described above, this is simply put what we can do during a constellation or Systemic Ritual, where we make the dynamics between a parent and child visible. During the online workshops, you can get to know Systemic Ritual at an entry-level. I’ll tell you more about systemic constellations and rituals, but we will mainly do some constellations or rituals so you can experience how it works and what it can do for you. Do you want more, and live? Click here for the workshop series ‘Hidden Dynamics’. This starts on Saturday morning, 24 September, in Amsterdam.

Click here for the full agenda.

Inspired by a workshop by Bertold Ulsamer.

Relationships – The perspective from systemic constellations

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)
Photo: Rod Long, published on Unsplash

A couple relationship isn’t a relationship between two people, but a relationship between many people. Think of it as the congregation of two planets: each planet is connected to a bigger picture. As human beings, we’re also part of a bigger picture: a family, a living environment, a country, a culture. When you’re in a couple relationship, you will also deal with his or her family, living environment, culture, etc.

When you really like someone, the feeling of being in love comes up: “I have butterflies in my stomach!” or “I found the one!” But: being in love is a feeling triggered by hormones and ‘only’ lasts between three days and two years, according to American research. By then, the real work begins.

At the same time, being in love doesn’t have anything to do with everlasting love. It’s being romanticized by Western society: in fairytales or movies with a happy ending. The reality is much different.

Why is that reality different? Why don’t relationships work and why are there that many breakups and divorces? About 10 to 15% of the divorces in the Netherlands are a so-called ‘fight divorce’. The characteristics of such a divorce are heavy fights and lots of rage between the people in that relationship. When children are involved and parents don’t have (any) healthy contact, the children pay the highest price.

Where does this (disproportionate) rage come from?

Normal rage is a physical reaction that helps you to achieve your goals, set boundaries or defend yourself.

If you use it the right way.

However, most of the rage is ‘infected’: it’s mixed up with old rage. This is when rage becomes destructive and disproportionate. So, this rage can be infected by events from someone’s personal past: lots of rage comes from one’s childhood, but there is also rage coming from transgenerational connections; the connections you have with your ancestors.

When there is conflict, it isn’t between two adults in a relationship. It’s with their old child’s emotions, their inner child or lots of men and women from the past who bring this rage out.

Family constellations and Systemic Ritual

I said it at the beginning: a couple relationship isn’t a relationship between two people, but a relationship between many. You’re not just married or in a relationship with your partner, but also with his or her father/mother and ancestral and socio-cultural background.

This is the base of family constellations and Systemic Ritual: methodologies that shed light and can bring enlightenment to the underlying dynamics of a situation.

With Systemic Ritual, you see the influence of family constellations:

  • There are representatives;
  • Healing phrases are spoken;
  • The healing effect works for the entire system, not for one individual;
  • The healing isn’t based on an individual’s capabilities, but you’ll also see that forces from outside are being used. For example, from an ancestor;
  • Both dead and living people have a role. Both exist in the here and now. The deceased only live in another ‘dimension’ or ‘world’.

A Systemic Ritual is enriched with principles from Shamanism: a connection is made with ‘power sources’. Who or what can give enough support or power to the client in order for a next healing movement to be made? For example, participants are asked to represent a ‘healer.’ A Systemic Ritual can also work with qualities of the four directions or the various souls or bodies – concepts from Shamanism.

The difference with a family constellation

When we work with Systemic Rituals, the exact details of a family constellation aren’t needed. With a family constellation, a confrontation usually takes place between the client and the one in the system with whom the client has an issue: this weakens the client. In Systemic Ritual we look for a connection with strength: for example, a connection with an ancestor who can give a healing power. The addition of power sources is an important addition to Systemic Ritual. There has to be enough strength to go up against the confrontation, as it happens in a family constellation. Do you want to read more? Click here.

Do you want to take part?

Do you want to get to know Systemic Ritual in an accessible way? Then, the online workshops might be perfect for you: I’ll tell you more about systemic constellations and Systemic Ritual, but we will mainly do some constellations or rituals, so you can experience how it works and what it can do for you. Do you want more, and live? Click here for the workshop series ‘Hidden Dynamics’. You can find all workshops and courses here.

The four directions

The four directions as a compass for your path of life.

The wheel of the four directions – also known as the Medicine Wheel – is a model from shamanic cultures. The wheel teaches you that there are always four perspectives from which you can look at things. The four views are derived from the four directions: North, East, South, and West.
Each direction has its own specific qualities, and each direction supports the other three through its characteristics. The four directions belong together; they form a whole. They work together in a complementary way.
The wheel of four directions can thus bring order. It is a helping map that can bring insight at different levels – the mental, emotional and soul level. It shows you in which direction your qualities lie, where you are deficient, where you can gain strength, and where you can find balance.
The wheel of the four directions forms the basic ground plan within which a Systemic Ritual takes place.

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The direction of the East

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The East encompasses the qualities of renewal, contemplation, perception, oversight, and orientation on the world around us. Suddenly having clear insights is an eastern force. The East is uninhibited (like a child). Another quality of the East is the ability to regenerate – the East power provides recovery, renewal, and “rejuvenation”. Because the East has the quality of being able to perceive sharply – perceiving both the detail and the whole – it also has the power to add structure.

The energy of the East is most present in the spring, in the morning, at the waxing moon.

In our personal life, it is the period of childhood. In the Northeast, the baby is born, and in the Southeast, the adolescent enters the adult world. The East knows the curiosity and the lust discovery drive of the child and the teenager.

The “East person”

People with highly developed East qualities can be people who have many ideas and/or can oversee structures well, can create conditions, can explain things well to others, and can change things quickly and easily. When you have highly developed East qualities, you are clear, you have an overview, and you are good at planning.
The East has few emotions. “East persons” can therefore appear a bit cool. An “East person” is not the type who gives or wishes to receive a long and firm hug.
An East person is future-oriented. This is the opposite of the “West person” who is nostalgic.

Unbalanced East qualities

When the East qualities “overshoot” or when the qualities of the other directions insufficiently balance the East, problems arise.
When there is too much focus on structure, this can be at the expense of the other qualities of the East: open-mindedness, creativity and the ability to improvise. Obsessive and compulsive behaviour shows the pathology of the East. Structures take on a life of their own.
Unbalanced East energy can also cause someone to “drown” in ideas. One idea to another arises, but the vision, planning and structure are missing. And nothing is ever done with all those ideas. Or worse, something new is always started up, but never brought to full implementation (the South). In severe form, this can be harmful to someone and his environment and lead to debts, among other things. Such a kind of person can start to lie to others to keep himself unguilty not my fault, everyone and everything worked against me, but next week I will have … or I promise you that the next week …… ). In the case of lying the qualities of being creative and being able to see and think of new possibilities are used in a destructive way. Someone with such an unbalanced East energy is incapable of taking real responsibility for his actions and does not get access to the qualities of the South.

The direction of the South

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The South encompasses the quality of maturity. The energy of the South is most present in the summer, in the afternoon, at the full moon.
In our personal life, it is the period of adulthood. That is the period in which we take on our responsibilities as adults. These include: starting a family, making a career, earning money, providing a roof over your head, belonging to a group (colleagues, sports club, a circle of friends, etc.) |
The qualities of the South are: take action, carry out, persist, persevere, and communicate. The South is concerned with the physical manifestation. The South has also the quality of communication. It’s about interacting with the people around you. This is expressed in friendliness and cooperation, but also in friction and conflicts. The South has extroverted energy.

The “South person”.

When you have highly developed South qualities, you like to be physically active. You always want to be busy, and that includes chilling out with the people around you, good food and a drink. Sensory experience is vital to a “South person”, as is contact with others.
Hobbies that suit the “South person” are hobbies where there is a lot of contact with others – this can be collaborative or competitive – and where physical activities are central. Think of team sports, but also conducting political debates, for example.

Unbalanced South Qualities

When the South is too active for a long time or insufficiently compensated by the qualities of the other directions, problems arise. For example, someone becomes hyperactive, cannot stop his activities, takes on too many responsibilities and eventually burns out.
The focus on the other can also get unbalanced and become an obsession. Then you will cling too much to someone else, and if you do not accept the boundary that the other indicates, you could well be called a stalker. Your desire for connection is entirely out of proportion, and the result is the opposite.
Also, too much attachment to sensory experience can lead to dependence or addiction. And that can happen in all kinds of areas: alcohol, drugs, nicotine, sex, gambling, shopping… .
Unbalanced South energy can also lead to dominating others and even abuse of others. Or even the opposite – wanting to be dominated.

The direction of the West

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The West includes the qualities of completion, evaluation, contemplation, letting go, cleansing, discharging and being in touch with the inner world of emotions, needs, desires, values, and desires. In the West, we get rid of ballast, of the superfluous, so that the essence becomes visible.
The energy of the West is most present in the fall, in the evening, with the waning moon.
In our personal life, it is the period of ageing. Children are about to leave the nest. (Grand) parents die. Questions like “is this all”, and “is this what I want” come up. The West is the inner world – what are my wants, needs, and values? It involves coming to an acceptance of how things have gone, an acceptance of how you did it and how others contributed to it, and thus an acceptance of others and the world as it is. The West eventually brings us to old age, and eventually, we die in the North West.

The “West person”

When you have highly developed West qualities, you will intensely experience the world, accompanied by intense and deep emotions.
Things are released in the West, which means that there is a lack of structure and more chaos and confusing situations can arise. This can sometimes manifest itself in being unable or unwilling to adhere to generally accepted norms and values, rules, agreements, and plans.
The “West person” “thinks in images and his inner world and feelings are central. The West person has more contact with the past.
Hobbies that suit the “West person” are hobbies where he/she can come into contact with his inner world: painting, poetry, writing, reading, and meditation….

Unbalanced West Energy

When the West energy is too active or is insufficiently balanced by the qualities of the other directions, problems arise.
The West is where things are released, where you sometimes can’t control your emotions and lose control. That can sometimes happen. If all goes well, we manage not to let it go too far and cause too much damage, and we manage to stop ourselves. If all goes well ……. If not, then this aspect of the West is disturbed.
An imbalance of the West can also make a person make things worse than they are – continually complaining, whining, being annoyed, and drawing everything to themselves. There is no longer an eye for new and stimulating insights. The West aspect of the breakdown has become the only reality for anyone.
Not being able to let go can lead to feelings of resentment and hatred – two emotions that are destructive to oneself and the outside world.
The West is also the place where psychosis arises, disintegration, and degeneration. No distinction is then made between images from the unconscious, fears and physical reality. The sense of reality has disappeared.

The direction of the North

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In the North, peace, and doing nothing is paramount. Just BEing it, pure consciousness. It is the place where all experience, yours and all other souls who have dared to tread the wheel of earthly existence, is collected. Where all experiences crystallize and combine in great wisdom. The personality that you had/were in earthly existence has been dissolved. It is the place of the departed souls, of our ancestors. We were born out of the North, and we’re going back there.

The “North Person” 

People with highly developed north qualities prefer to keep their distance and tend not to get fully involved with the things that are happening around them. They prefer to view from a distance in order to gain wisdom.” North people” will enjoy meditating. Meditation feeds the north energy.

Unbalanced North qualities

When the north strength “overshoots” and/or is insufficiently balanced by the qualities of the other directions, problems arise. It is entirely normal and healthy to withdraw from others every now and then. When contact is continuously avoided, it is no longer healthy, and there is unbalanced north energy. The demand for peace and stillness has then gone too far. There can also be a loss of contact with the world because someone is only busy with spiritual matters. There is no longer any good conversation possible with others. Another form of unbalanced north energy is dissociation. The outside world is no longer felt and participated in; it is no longer really consciously perceived or experienced. The world can also be experienced as unreal.

Daan van Kampenhout – The four directions

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“The mothers put us into life; the fathers put us into the world”.
(Bert Hellinger)

This article is about Fathers! In our psyche, we carry an image of Father. Most of the time, this image is based upon the experience we had with our birth father. However, our psyche also holds images of Father that are informed by the archetype of Father. We can find these images of Father in the old stories: the myths and fairytales. The Father image seems to be universal; it exists in many different cultures worldwide.
If we like it or not – this image of Father – influences us more than we realise or wish. It determines our access to masculine energy.

If you want to know more about Systemic Ritual, then come and meet me in these ONLINE workshops. You will EXPERIENCE the work. Next workshops are about FATHERS:
Saturday, June 11 – 16.00 – 18.00 – Amsterdam time
Monday, June 13 – 19.30 – 21.30 – Amsterdam time
Saturday, June 18 – 16.00 – 18.00 – Amsterdam time

Without healthy, proper access to this masculine energy, we will miss some essential qualities. These are, among others:

  • Being capable of taking decisions
  • Taking responsibilities
  • Vigour
  • Setting goals and focusing
  • Setting boundaries
  • Autonomy
  • Logical and rational thinking
  • Independency

This article will explore the archetype Father and the roles connected to that archetype. You will also learn about some basic dynamics found in the practice of Family Constellations and how Systemic Ritual can help to heal the wounds of a rejected father.

“If mom is the gateway to life, dad is the portal to the world.”
– Marina Toledo

The primary roles of the Father

In almost every studied culture, fathers have assumed three primary roles: the protector, the provider, and the disciplinarian. Of course, nowadays, in many families, mothers fulfil these three roles as much as fathers. Mothers protect their children and provide for their families by working outside the home and teaching their children as well. Maybe it is better to speak about the yin and yang aspects of parenting or the masculine and feminine qualities needed to raise and nourish children.

The Father protects the family from all danger that can come from outside. He takes care of a safe home for the family. He wants to protect the family from bad things that can happen. But if a bad thing may happen, he is the one that teaches the children to cope with ‘possible dangers’, such as how to cope with strangers, accidents, bullies, and falls.
The protector also observes the social environment of the children – their friends and peers, the club, the school, and the neighbourhood. The Father as protector tries to eliminate possible dangers in the social environment of his children.

In many cultures, one of the Father’s primary roles is also that of a provider: taking care of all money/materials needed to provide his family with food, clothes, a roof above the head, etc.

Guide or educator
Fathers prepare the child for the future. They want their child to succeed, to see what’s on the horizon, and to aspire to bigger and better things. So, Fathers need to teach their children how to handle their impulses, stay calm under stress, and deal with situations where they don’t endanger themselves or others.

The old stories

In myths and fairytales, the roles of Fathers are well described.
The positive aspect of the Father principle suggests law, order, justice, flexible discipline, rationality, understanding, inspiration and authority in the service of protection. All are expressed in images of benevolent and helpful kings, firefighters, healers and guides.
The positive Father is an image of the mature masculine, manifesting caring, guidance and protection without infringing on the autonomy of those under his care.
The shadow Father emerges when the caring, guidance and protection turn into abuse of authority. The negative Father archetype involves rigidity, control and a cold intellectual way of relating.

Lessons learned from Family Constellations

Our father is the first contact with masculine energy. In order to be able to take our place in the world, we need to take our father.

When we reject our father, we also reject a part of ourselves. We won’t feel that we will have a right for love, success or fulfilment in life, etc.). So we will feel an inner void that we will try to fill with things from outside.
Bert Hellinger observed, through many constellations over the years, that many addictions (alcohol, gambling, sex, food, drugs, etc.) are linked to a missing father. It is as if the addict is attempting to fill the void from his father through the addiction.

“Addictions have Father’s face.”
Bert Hellinger

Another symptom of the lack of a father’s power may be expressed by looking for him in religion, spirituality, teachers, leaders, masters and gurus. By that, an adult tries to fulfil the need to be guided and protected. But unfortunately, this will blur their thinking and ability to perceive and the intuition – leading to wrong choices.

Loyalty to the mother
When we are born, we see this world through the eyes of the most important person for us, our mother. As a consequence, when we grow up, but remain in the same state, we will also see our fathers through “her eyes”.
If a mother is not happy about her relationship, if she rejects her husband, and her children see things through “her eyes”, they also tend to reject the father.
For a boy, this will result in an incapability to relate to a woman and build his family. He does not have access to masculine energy. He does not know how to be independent.
For a girl, this will result in the fact that she will see in men the same problems her mother sees in her husband. She will repeat her mother’s pattern. But paradoxically, she will look for a father in all men around. As a result, she cannot grow up and be independent properly.

With a disbalance in our feminine and masculine energies, many things around us do not work. For balance, we need both powers, both parents. We need to accept our father inwardly to live life fully.

Systemic Ritual – calling upon the archetypes of Fathers

It can be really difficult to embrace our father entirely inwardly. However, with the help of the positive archetypical Father images, the images of the old stories, we can start healing our wounds of a rejected father and therefore gain more access to healthy masculine qualities. Systemic Ritual offers an opportunity for healing ‘the rejected father’ with the help of the Father archetypes. By connecting to the Father archetypes, we can circumpass in a way the confrontation with the birth father. This can be helpful when the relationship with the birth father is filled with trauma – violence, abuse, for example. By calling upon the archetypical Father image in a Systemic Ritual, access to the male energy can be gained – at least for a while.

“Thank you, dad, for giving me the courage to follow my dreams, the strength to face adversities, the voice to set boundaries, the clarity to discern, the confidence to succeed.”
– Marina Toledo

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