Through observing, experiencing and facilitating various healing modalities, particularly Family Constellations, I have observed that seemingly amazing interventions have not helped the client at all, and quite simple healing movements have had life-changing and profound effects. My therapeutic approach is guided by internally checking in with myself: is this helpful? Does it strengthen the client? Or does it weaken the client? What is becoming apparent through my experiences, is that the question “why?”, is seldom helpful. Yes, many of us are curious to know why we have a problem, why we turned out this way, why a certain behavior or symptom is difficult to shift. Many are seeking for someone to give them an answer “why”, and many therapists assist in digging for this answer. But, does it really help to know why?
In my understanding of the world, there are no direct cause and effect relationships. To think there could be linear causalities of our human conditions seems dishonoring of the beautiful and mysterious complexities of the human soul. The questions that have proved useful to ask when exploring ourselves are: “what?” and “how?”. For example, what is the dynamic that is going on here in the family? And how can we move forward towards health and a future outcome that will be useful for us?
Sometimes knowing “why”, only confounds the problem, and escalates the anger and the resentment. It is much easier to lay blame and point fingers to the person who did this to me. Perhaps in time I can forgive them then, giving me the ultimate power and control of the relationship again.
There is a lovely story that my teacher in African traditions told me once. A young man comes to the doctor and says, my finger is blue, please help me. The doctor divines that the finger is blue because the boy’s mother has laid a curse on him. So, the doctor says: your finger is blue, so you must wash in this medicine and it will heal. The boy uses the medicine and his finger heals. What would have happened if the doctor would have said: your mother has done this to you, lets look at that.
Taking this into the context of the Family Constellation, the line between “what’ and “why” becomes a bit finer. The client has a difficult relationship with their mother. When we set up the constellation in space, the mother is not looking at him. If we ask the client: “why” does your mother not look at you? The answer is surely to be something to her or the child’s character – what they have or don’t have as a person, or what they have or have not done. The effect is shutting down and turning away because “it is just like that”. We get a very different response to: “what happened in the life of your mother”. What we find there is that the mother is bound into her own family of origin based on events that happened in her how life. The client is often at this moment able to feel an opening in their heart, a glimpse of compassion and understanding that lays the seed for opening, reaching out, and eventually healing and reconciliation.
Perhaps you would like to try this out for yourself next time you are asking “why this?”, and see what emerges when you start asking “what” and “how”…