Exploring the Psycho-Spiritual Motifs of the Family Mind and the Work of Bert Hellinger

Several years ago, I met with a group of twenty NLP Master Practitioners with the intention of exploring the psycho-spiritual motifs that exist in the consciousness of people and the systems in which they live. Using ideas inspired by family systems innovators Bert Hellinger and Virginia Satir, Systemic Thinking, Chaos Theory, and Morphogenetic Fields; the group worked with patterns resident in family and organizational systems.


We started off by investigating why people attract certain kinds of imprint experiences. Everyone has some kind of issue in his or her life that seems to be an ongoing theme. It is common for a person to have a cluster of imprints that play a part in this ongoing theme or motif.


For example, some people have themes around the fear of being abandoned. These people will unconsciously attract experiences of abandonment in their personal and working relationships. Other people have ongoing issues around love, trust, self-esteem, patience, and so on. If you look at a person’s family pattern or family history, it is common to find that this ongoing theme has existed within the family for generations.


How is it that we become attractors for these kinds of experiences? Could it be that there are motifs or patterned themes behind various imprints? To explore these questions, we delved into the family systems work of Bert Hellinger.


Hellinger typically works with a large group of people. His method is to have the client choose people from the audience to role-play the client himself. Each person acts as a surrogate for the family member he or she was chosen to portray. Hellinger then has the client place the surrogate family members in spatial relationship to the client. By creating a spatial sorting of the client’s family or origin, the unconscious dysfunctional themes that exist in the family system became incredibly apparent.


It’s as if the process of spatially sorting the family opens a gateway into the unconscious family mind of the client. Each one of the surrogate family members is like an antenna tapping into the larger unconscious mind of the client’s family system. The surrogates are able to retrieve information they normally wouldn’t have access to because they are tapping into something outside of themselves.


For example, in the work that we did (inspired by Hellinger), one of the clients placed his mother, father, brother and sister directly behind him, with each family member standing the same distance away. The client reported that he had always felt compelled to do well, look good, and hold the family together. He felt a huge responsibility, as if the world were weighing down on his shoulders. The client also had a stillborn brother, who would have been his older brother. He had a deep sense of his brother being on his shoulder, although he had never realized it before. The client then realized that he was unconsciously playing out his stillborn brother’s destiny!


The client also realized he shouldn’t have been the one to have to hold the family together, that it should have been his brother’s job. The surrogate people playing his mother and father, who were placed way behind the client, felt as though they were, “out of touch” with the client. The people playing his brother and sister said they felt compelled to keep secrets.


After each role-player expressed his or her feelings and they were acknowledged by the client and by each other, they moved to a more resourceful spatial arrangement. The client placed his parents out in front of him with all of his siblings facing towards them. The siblings were placed in the order of their births beginning with the person role-playing the stillborn; who, by the way, felt very good to be acknowledged by the parents and the other children.


The client then told the person who was standing in for the stillborn, that he would no longer live his life for him. The client felt very much liberated after doing so. After the process, the client said that felt a deep sense of peace and connection within himself and his family.


It is my understanding that there is a strong bond connecting people in natural family systems that cannot be broken. Even if a family member disowns his or her family, or is kicked out of the system, that person is still unconsciously bonded to the family system and is part of the larger family mind. The same applies to stillborn children, or babies who were miscarried. They are still bonded to the family system.


When a family forgets about these unacknowledged members of the family, and doesn’t include them in the system– or when a family member is disowned– then the family system will try unconsciously to balance the system and make up for the loss. It is common for many dysfunctional patterns to emerge as a result of this natural equalization process. In the case of the client with the stillborn child on his shoulder, he made up for the loss unconsciously by trying to live out the stillborn child’s destiny.


The only way a family system can be truly balanced is to consciously acknowledge the gaps that are creating the dysfunctional patterns and themes within the system; and then fill in those gaps with the appropriate information. By doing so, the system will integrate the new information and regain its balance, thus releasing the attractors for the negative imprint experiences that were unconsciously drawn in as part of the process of equalization. In the case of the previously mentioned client, it was important for the system as a whole to reintroduce the stillborn child back into the system and then to have the client acknowledge that he would no longer live his life for him.


Interestingly, the word “form” is a part of the word “information.” The act of bringing new information into the family system or field heals the form within the field. This is why it is so important to reeducate the family system with the new information, because then it can begin to evolve into a new form within its field of existence that is more resourceful for all of the parts that exist within the whole As the field learns to operate in a way that is more resourceful, the whole system will begin to attract experiences that are reflective of its higher learning’s.


If the field and the system within the field are balanced and equalized, then attractors for the positive experiences will begin to spontaneously emerge and new themes and motifs will begin to form.


Because we live in a holographic universe, it is only natural that by doing this kind of work, it enables the client to create healing throughout the family field by introducing new information into its system. The client is an integral part of the larger family mind. If he can tune into that larger family mind, then he can essentially heal it. With the help of the surrogates, the client is able to tap into the field that represents his family with ease. He is then able to give new information through the help of the surrogate parts of the whole system and the family field.


During our experimentation, the members of the practitioner group quickly discovered the psycho-spiritual motifs of everyone’s family mind in a profound way. Moreover, the people who role-played the client’s family members in each group were able to deliver information about the client’s family system with amazing accuracy.


In ever case, the client reported that the attitudes and language were incredibly accurate for each of the role played family members. It became evident that the surrogate family members who were role-playing the client’s family members experienced the exact same thoughts and feeling as the real family members!


This leads me to a preliminary assumption that there is a family system unconscious that acts like a morphogenic field that can be tapped into with the appropriate positive intent and interpersonal skill. Family themes, story lines, and motifs that had been hidden from the conscious awareness of the clients in every case were remarkably exposed.


One of the group members had chronic hip pain, and reported that his pain was gone, and he felt completely different after doing this kind of family systems work! Another one of the member was going through a painful divorce and chose to work on that. He felt unsettled with the work at first, but later felt a profound sense of clarity about his divorce– and the unconscious processes in the family system that led to his divorce. He also said it brought him a great sense of peace once these themes had been discovered and acknowledged. There was another person from the group with a health condition, who reported a clarity of insight. But couldn’t determine whether anything had changed. She said that time would tell.


Later, the same methods and processes were applied to business organizations. Again, this resulted in gathering important information about the ways in which the system was functional and dysfunctional.


To begin to play with these family systems ideas, you can use a method developed by Lucas Derks, an NLP trainer at the IEP Institute in Holland. He has you imagine yourself in relationship to all the people in the world, near and far, and then has you check your submodalities of location for different peoples.


For example, notice where the people of Africa, China, the USA, and your own city or town are in terms of submodalities. Then place people you love or are close to in your mind’s eye. You will begin to get an idea of how you have unconsciously arranged them. Test what happens by moving different people. Do this with ecology in mind (you can always put them back). Try shifting the direction they face or your elevation in relation to them. Using submodalities like this is one of the ways the practitioner group future paced the systemic processes they were developing.


Lucas Derks has published a book on this internal social panorama. Look for it. The name of this book is, Social Panoramas: Changing the Unconscious Landscape with NLP and Psychotherapy.


Kristine Hallbom is an internationally recognized NLP trainer, author and professional coach. She is the co-founder of the NLP Coaching Institute and the co-creator of the WealthyMind™ Program, which has been taught to live audiences in over 20 countries and has helped thousands of people create more of what they want in their lives.


She is also the co-author of the book, Powerful Questions and Techniques for Coaches and Therapists, and has published numerous articles on wealth consciousness, NLP Coaching and systems thinking for a variety of psychology journals and magazines.


Special note: Kris and her husband Tim Hallbom were the first ones to bring Bert Hellinger into the United States to teach his Family Constellations approach back in 1997. Kris and Tim set up a multi-city tour for Hellinger to showcase his work throughout the United States. Shortly after his first tour, several NLP Institutes and NLP Practitioners began incorporating Hellinger’s work into everything they did– which spawned a new movement in Family Constellations Work throughout the world of NLP.


Kris can be reached through her website at: https://www.krishallbom.com

© 2020 Kristine Hallbom

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