Constellations - beyond technique

Constellations - beyond technique

When we are learning to constellate, at first we pay great attention to developing skills and technique. While these are important, we also soon learn that they are completely insufficient – our clients are not helped as fully as they could be by the mechanics of methodology alone...

When we look beyond our usual ways of considering skills as learned capabilities, to the more demanding orientation of stilling our mind, taking in the whole situation and paying attention to our inner, ‘felt sense’, we see that a crucial element of the ‘success’ of a constellation is our stance as a constellator. A stance is a posture - an embodied way of relating, and of comporting ourselves dynamically in a situation.

In Organisational and Coaching Constellations, I see ‘stance’ as being informed by preferences such as working with our clients’ resourcefulness rather than their weaknesses; with offering the smallest interventions necessary for change so that our clients’ capacity or autonomy is supported; by holding 'creative indifference' and working with emergence, rather than by having fixed outcomes in mind; and more…

While developing our stance can be parsed in these ways, I think it is worth reflecting on the point that Love is fundamental to all aspects of our stance as constellators. However counter-cultural it is to talk of ‘love’ in organisational settings, and however politic it might be to avoid naming this explicitly with our clients, as systemic coaches and constellators we need to recognise that love holds the transformational potential of all our work and cannot be overlooked. But what does this mean in practice?

When Bert Hellinger founded systemic constellations over twenty-five years ago, he referred to the work as ‘The Orders of Love’. References to this have been elided in recent years in most constellations training programmes, literature and practice that I have encountered, although I believe our work is strengthened by acknowledging that love is both the source and resource of constellations work. Put differently, our methodology is formed and informed by love.

In a constellatory context, love means something quite specific: Hellinger described ‘love’ in practical terms as ‘seeing + distance – judgment’. This formula defines the essence of our stance as constellators. To love in this way requires certain things of us: a separation from individual concerns and personal loyalties (including to our clients) so that we can gain a bigger-picture perspective that is enriched by contextual relevance; a willingness to sacrifice dependency, to resist over-investment in solutions and even in the helping relationship; and to let go (for example) of blame or praise, disgust or approval, and to remain compassionately neutral.

From a coaching and constellating perspective, I understand that Love is a systemic orientation that determines our relatedness to the world as a whole, and not to one person. In recognising this, we can support ourselves in moving from the paradigm of individualism, where we take a single person or team as our client, towards a systemic paradigm where we take a whole system as our client. Clearly this kind of love is not personal, but rather is the force that serves life. This accords with biologist Humberto Maturana’s (1999, p1) view, that love expands intelligence, enables creativity, and returns autonomy, responsibility and freedom.

Posted in Coaching Constellations organisation development Change on Thursday, Nov 24th, 2016

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