Image by Susanne Jutzeler, Schweiz ???suju-foto 

When I was studying for a certificate in counselling, we had to create a ‘genogram.’ This is similar to a family tree, but in addition to recording the names and dates of births, deaths, marriages, etc. of each family member, we were also required to do little biographies on each person. In these brief biographies, we made a note of anything that stood out in the person’s life, such as alcohol or drug abuse, criminality, suicide, financial failures, multiple affairs, violent behavior of any kind, unusual career history, and so on.

Once we had each completed our genograms, it was absolutely mind-blowing to see all the repeated patterns. Nearly everyone in the class was shocked at the realization that these patterns were passed on from generation to generation. Very often, the particular situation had been kept a secret from all or some of the family members. It is as though, as long as the information was not in the consciousness of everyone, someone in that family had to recreate a similar situation even though it could well be to their detriment or the detriment of others. Once the situation was brought out into the open, it was as if there was no further need for it to be repeated.

There is an excellent book called Family Secretsby John Bradshaw that explains this fascinating phenomenon in greater detail. If any of these examples intrigue you, I recommend that his book, and in fact any book by John Bradshaw, as an excellent read.

Real-Life Example

I was experiencing some difficulty in my relationship with my eldest son, Paul, nothing major, just a kind of ‘block’ in our communication. He was serving in the British Army and had recently completed his Marine Commando Training. During his time in the military, I had made major life changes and started my inner voyage of self-discovery. I can imagine that it was a real challenge for him to relate to this ‘new’ dad.

Paul is, and has always been, an extremely gentle and caring young man, and I found it interesting that he joined the army, and even more interesting that he appeared to have an insatiable desire to serve anywhere where there was a war going on.

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At different times, he expressed his desire to serve in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He managed to fulfill some of those desires, but not all of them. I believe in supporting children in whatever their desires are, and so I made no attempt at trying to dissuade him from joining the army, though I wondered at the time what was driving this desire.

When we began experiencing difficulties in our communication, I decided I wanted to do something positive about the situation. I also realized that Paul was not interested at that time in exploring my newfound concepts or entering into dialogue on the subject. In fact, he let me know he thought that I was talking a lot of crap!

Constellation Work and the Family

A friend had recommended Constellation Work to me, explaining that it was very successful in releasing past generational memories that may be hindering the life of a family member without them ever knowing the reason. I managed to find such a workshop and signed up for the weekend course. I knew very little about this work, but my intuition was telling me I should attend.

During this work, a trained facilitator invites any member of the group of participants to present some issue that’s causing them pain or sadness or anger, an issue they would like to ‘clear.’ I mentioned the friction with my son, and the facilitator invited me to choose different people from my group to represent my son, my father, my mother, and myself. This facilitator was very intuitive, and as soon as I had chosen the participants, she asked me my father’s age when I was born. She mentioned that, judging by my age, he would have probably been away in the military when I was born.

I explained that my father was never in the military, as he had been born with a deformed left leg and was therefore ‘not fit’ to join the army when the Japanese invaded Malaya, where he was living with my mother and my sister at the time.

The facilitator suddenly gave an indication that she had hit on something and asked me to pick some more participants. She invited me to choose someone to represent the country of Malaya, someone to represent my baby sister, and someone to represent all my father’s male friends who had to leave their families to join the army and go off and fight the Japanese.

The people representing my family were grouped together, according to the facilitator’s instructions, and the person representing Malaya stood behind them, with the person representing my father’s friends in front of them. The group of participants was then invited to focus on their emotions and simply to allow whatever they were feeling to rise to the surface. They were also encouraged to move around wherever they felt inclined.

The Cameo of my Family Dynamics

What happened next amazed me. The person representing my father’s friends started to slowly walk away from my ‘father’ and ‘mother,’ towards the door, and finally walked out of the room. Suddenly, the person representing my father became distressed. He began shaking and looked very angry and then eventually burst into tears, while the woman representing my mother started to cry also. It was very spontaneous and natural.

It wasn’t long before each of the participants, including me, was crying. Each person slowly approached my ‘father’ and started to console him and put their arms around him, which helped him to release even more sadness.

The facilitator gently brought this cameo to a close, and we all shared our experiences with the group. What amazed me was that the facilitator was able to hone in on the situation that, on the surface, had no connection to the issue I had presented. Remember, my son had no idea that any of this was going on.

That is one of the most powerful things about this work; the other person does not have to be consciously involved.

The Change Takes Place

After that weekend, when I met up with Paul, there was a distinct improvement in our level of communication, but the greatest shock was still to come to me. About six months later, he started to say that he was tiring of military life despite being chosen as one of the brightest prospects in his unit and having been recommended to attend the Officer’s Training School in Sandhurst.

A few months later, he quit the army entirely and even turned his back on a security position in Afghanistan; he lost all his desire to be part of any fighting force. In fact, he started a venture with his brother-in-law, helping young people to raise their self-esteem.

The Past, and Repressed Feelings, Released

Any repressed emotions in past generations can unconsciously be recreated without the person knowing why. In this case, it was probable that my son was carrying the memory of his grandfather’s anger, guilt, shame, and sadness at being ‘unfit’ to represent his country at war.

Imagine the shame my father would have felt at the time, being the only British male left in the community with all these women and their children while all his friends left their families to go and fight.

So my son, who had never known his grandfather (he died seven years before my son was born), felt this inexplicable yearning to ‘go to war,’ even though it went totally against his peaceful and gentle nature.

The Constellation Work symbolically released those repressed feelings of my father’s, using a kind of ‘surrogate’ to express them and have them witnessed by non-shaming faces. When these long-repressed emotions were released, my son no longer carried the urge to go to war.

Copyright 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Printed with permission of O-Books.
an imprint of the publisherCollective Ink Books.

Article Source: Miracle Relationships

Miracle Relationships: A Path to Freedom and Joy
by John Campbell

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of John Campbell, author of Miracle RelationshipsJohn Campbell is a 76-year-old graduate of the Grand University of Life!  Born in India in 1946, he had no schooling until his family moved back to England in 1953. At 17, he joined the Merchant Navy as a Navigating Officer Cadet; he became a captain at age 26 before working in Nigeria for 25 years. 

John hit rock bottom in 1997 through drinking and stressful business activities. As a result, he admitted himself to a rehabilitation centre. After five weeks of deep healing and achieving a spiritual awakening, he left rehab. Then, he resigned from his Nigerian businesses, going on to train as a hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner. Eventually, A Course In Miracles found its way into John's life, and he became a dedicated student and teacher of this metaphysical work.

Visit his website at