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Walking with Myself

Written by: Huang Yanzhen, Member of Chinese Systemic Constellations Society One day, a friend reached out to meet urgently. It appeared she had found herself unexpectedly pregnant and was unsure whether to keep the baby. During our meeting, she spoke about various concerns, and from a life planning perspective, this situation was undeniably an "unexpected" twist. She pondered over aspects such as the physical separation from her husband due to work, unintentional medication use in the early stages of pregnancy, and the overall instability of their marriage, among other factors. Weighing the pros and cons of having the child, the decision swayed back and forth. To cope with the uncertainty, she gathered and compiled all possible information about pregnancy and relevant social resources, hoping to make appropriate adjustments for this unexpected pregnancy. Personally, I find it difficult to provide any significant insights into her decision-making and current anxieties because I am childless and have not experienced the psychological processes of preparing to raise kids. She described heated arguments with her husband about the situation. However, as an outsider, all I could do was listen to her elaboration of various "possibilities". I am at a loss for words, apart from realizing how much one must adapt to being a mother. When she was done talking, I told her I couldn't do much for her but suggested that maybe we could try a constellation exercise – perhaps it could be helpful! I explained that I would represent her, and use a puppet to represent her child. I asked her to observe the scene. My friend was clueless about systemic constellation, and I did not explain further. Nevertheless, my friend agreed to give it a try since she was anxious and there were no other solutions. Stepping into the role to represent her, my representation displayed a very serious (but not heavy) attitude, distinct from the restlessness and self-deprecating tone in her actual state. With bated breath, the mother stared at the child, trying to figure out what the next step should be—a contemplative posture, as if pondering a significant commitment.  After looking at the child for a very long time, the mother swept the child into her arms. I paused at this point and asked my friend how she felt. She said, "You're very serious; you scared me." I responded, "I am representing you, and the scene just depicted your serious inner attitude toward the prospect of having a child." I suggested she take on my role for a moment. She hesitated and said, "I won't; I don't know what you just did." Nevertheless, she agreed. As she "represented" herself and observed the puppet representing the child, the scene became increasingly calm. After some time, she smiled.  After the exercise, although we did discuss some practical issues, logistical questions and different choices, she was no longer anxious about whether she wanted to have a baby. I also refrained from probing her decision. The atmosphere lightened, and our conversation concluded in this relaxed ambiance.  For me, the magic of systemic constellation work lies in its proximity to oneself. Through the described perceptual exchange, the constellation process involves no explanations, no added verbal or physical movements but employs only "time" as a tool (akin to the trust in a close friendship). This allows representatives and the person involved to open up to perception in silence.  On another occasion, when I introduced the concept of systemic constellation tools to another friend, she expressed interest. She wanted to use this tool to understand why she always found herself drawn to incompatible romantic partners. As there were other people present, I designated one person to represent her and another to represent the "suitable partner" in her life. Throughout the representation, the "suitable partner" always followed closely behind her, but she kept walking in the opposite direction, never seeing the person suitable for her.  This constellation went beyond my friend's initial self-perception, but what struck me even more was the emotional shift I observed as she watched. Initially, she seemed surprised as I explained the significance of the scene. After prompting more interaction from the people in the scene, she gazed at the scene for a while, then broke into a smile. When I asked if she wanted to continue (seeking resolution), she pondered for a moment and said, “The constellation method you explained seems really effective in solving problems, but I'd like to remain in the understanding I just gained. I’m satisfied with what I just gained. I realize I don't feel the need to delve further into the constellation right now.” In fact, when my friend expressed her desire to pause and reflect, a relaxed and radiant expression appeared on her face. I couldn't help but envy her for enjoying the freedom of her life. When people "identify themselves," they realize in their hearts, "This is who I am!" The standards they have set for themselves disintegrate. The concepts of "right" and "wrong", "agree" and "disagree" immediately become secondary. The structure of the stated problem also undergoes an immediate shake-up, and when the problem structure starts to weaken, a significant portion of the distress diminishes. “Identifying oneself” is about recognizing existing but previously unconscious aspects within, and embracing that this is who I am. Regardless of the current conflicts and difficulties, the act of "identifying oneself" brings a sense of fulfillment. 

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