At the recent constellation workshop I attended, one example used to demonstrate the concept of systems meeting systems was expectations people have within a marriage. More specifically, it was about doing the dishes and taking out the garbage.

Consider for a moment, the family in which you grew up. Did your parents have more traditional roles where the mother always did the dishes and the father took out the garbage? What would happen if the person from this family system married someone where the roles were reversed, or, if a stay at home dad was the family norm? It would likely take some communication and adjustment before these two different systems were able to work together successfully.

What if you expected life to look exactly like the family system you grew up with, and did not hold space for another person’s system? It would be similar to holding the rules pattern highlighted in NLP of “my rules for me, my rules for you”. The result would likely be one person getting frustrated about being told what to do and/or the other person being disappointed that what they expect is not getting done.

Money is another instance in which one system is meeting another. For example:

Money dynamics – What might happen if one person in a relationship grew up in a poor household and is used to saving money while the other came from a middle class family and feels that there will always be enough money. Would discussions about money be easy or challenging?

Money changes – Consider the articles about lottery winners who end up broke. Could it be that the money system they grew up in is hitting up against a wealthier system and adjusting to new habits and norms is difficult?

Other examples of systems meeting systems on a more personal level include systems of political viewpoints, state and country cultures, and religion. We have all seen how these different systems meeting can result in a clash, a merge, or a respectful separation.

When you meet someone with a different viewpoint, do you resist it, try to change it, judge it? Or do you consider that the family or cultural system a person is a part of as simply different from what you’ve experienced and maybe you can learn something new?

Photo credit to Lightspring/

© 2018 Systems of Change, LLC