Transmission of Intergenerational Trauma – Erika Geraldo
Hi, everyone. This is your host Michelle, and you’re listening to The Mindful Podcast, the show that aims to break the stigma associated with mental health. Today we will be talking about transgenerational trauma, behavior, and experiences as seen in systemic family constellations with Erica Geraldo, family constellation facilitator, and systemic psychologist. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Mindful Podcast. Today we have beautiful Erica with us. How are you, Erica? I’m very good. Thank you very much for the invitation. No, thank you for coming. I’m so excited because today we get to listen and discuss family constellations. Can you give us a little bit of your personal and professional background so our audience can get a feel of where you come from, what’s your knowledge, your specialty, and just get to know you a little bit better? Okay, of course. So I am originally from Colombia, but I’ve been living in the United States almost all my life, and I started Family Consolations because of a personal experience. I started doing Family Consolations myself for my personal healing and my family as well. So after a time of doing sessions, I decided I wanted to study this. So I started doing some research where I found an amazing place in Mexico City. Okay. And I started studying there. How long have you been doing this? So I have been doing this for about eight years now. Okay, that’s a lot. Yeah, that’s pretty significant. And did you start with psychology first and then kind of transition into this specialty, or you just went straight to the family constellations? So at the beginning, I started doing a diplomat in Family Constellations, which is almost for two years. Okay. And I was going back and forth to Mexico City, so I would go every month and I would do my modules there. And then after seeing all this amazing knowledge, know, learning all these things, I fell in love with this and decided I wanted to take it deeper. And that’s where I decided to study systemic psychologist. Okay, nice. And I’m imagining that journey has been amazing because you’re still doing yes, yes. And I think I want to keep on. I’m actually thinking of doing my master’s, going back to Mexico and keep on in the systemic world. Great. I love systemics systemic therapy and all that. And the whole family everything’s related to everything, right? Every family connected. Yeah. Okay. When we talk about family constellations, we’re referring to healing, generational trauma, or intergenerational trauma, correct? Yes. Can you give us a little bit more background on what that is, what that entails, and yeah, overall, a little background on that. Okay. So family constellations in general, I’m going to speak about a little bit about who created it and where does it come from. So family Consolations was created by Bert Hellinger. He was a German philosopher, psychotherapist, and he was also a priest for more than 20 years. And after studying so much different fields in psychology and being more than 20 years a priest, he decided he wanted to create his own technique and he created family constellations where he denominated this as the orders of love. So the orders of love are basically the laws of a family system, right? So we know that we have different laws, like the natural laws, like every law that exists, and we’re supposed to follow those laws. So he said that there was also laws in a family system that we should follow. If we’re not following these laws, then it’s when conflicts and things start happening in the families. So the first one is inclusion. So in every family system, there should always be like every family member should be included. The orders of love are the laws of a family system, okay? So the first order is the order of inclusion, and that is to include every member of our family system. So that’s, for example, we have family members that we don’t see that are respectful or that they’re not socially accepted because they did something wrong in the family. Excluding them or hating them or having hard feelings for them is not going to change anything. It’s going to get it worse. So in family constellations, we work to understand that this person came to do this role for a specific reason in the family system. So we need to learn how to include them in our hearts forgiving them, honoring their destiny the way it is and just accepting it. We understand that sometimes people are toxic, are violent, are dangerous, and we can’t be around them, and that is okay, but that’s a different thing. You don’t have to be around this person all the time, but as long as you and your heart give them a place and understand that if they’re your uncle or if they’re your father, you have that very clear because it’s very important. Okay? Yeah. So that’s the first. So that is the first. That’s only the first. That’s a lot that’s already a lot of work. That is a lot of work. And that is the hardest one because we tend to exclude because a lot of people don’t do what we think it’s right. And the first reaction is just, I don’t want them in my life or I hate them. Oh, I can relate. I got it. What’s number two? I’m curious. So number two is order and hierarchy. And that is basically what role are you taking in your family system? So we say that most of the families are dysfunctionals because not everyone is taking their natural and original place. That’s very systemic. Yes, exactly. Literally systemic therapy. Exactly. Because it’s the order. Okay. The hierarchy. Got it. Exactly. So it’s like if you’re the older brother and you’re taking the youngest brother’s role, then you’re doing it all wrong because you’re not taking responsibility for what is natural for you. So you start giving more responsibilities to the other brothers and then it becomes a chaos. So here is where are you located? And you can see that in a family constellations because when you’re working with other people that are representing that they’re members of the family, then they place themselves accordingly. Exactly. That’s crazy. What’s number three? I’m going to go down the numbers. So the number three is balance and that basically applies to people in the same hierarchy with brothers, with relationships like marriages or boyfriends, friends and coworkers. So that is the intention of when you give and take from someone, it could be energetically or physically. You should always be conscious that you’re only taking what you need and you’re giving only what you really have. This way the relationship is always growing. Okay. And when you give to someone, you give a little more. So it’s just about balance, having that conscious. Because what happens is that when you give more, for example, in a romantic relationship, then you start being like a mom or a dad because you want to just save that person. Like I want to give you, give you, give you and then the relationship starts to grow and it lacks romance and all that because the roles are not right in place. Yeah, that makes completely sense. And then you might start building resentment too, because you’re expecting what you give and you’re giving too much. And then if that person doesn’t give you that same, then for you that’s just yeah, exactly, that makes sense. Okay, number, where are we now? We’re on the number that is that’s it? There’s three? Yeah, there’s three. Mainly. Is it in order of priority? Like number one? You said it was the hardest one. Well, yeah, that is like the main one because that’s basically what we all do is excluding and it has a lot of consequences. So it does go by order. That’s like the number one. Okay, how does the transgenerational trauma? How does that connect with all this healing or the family constellations? How do you work that? Okay, so for example, the transgenerational is basically what we’re carrying that most of the time we don’t know. So we repeat patterns and we continue the same legacy as our family and sometimes we’re not even conscious about it. So for example, let’s say that we come from families that come from women that have been single mothers, for example. And all the women in the lineage continue to be single mothers. And that’s because when you go back in the history, you see that they’ve been excluding men. That because obviously they’ve been around men that have been violent or done harm to them and they haven’t been able to heal it and to solve that situation. So all the women keep on the same they’re carrying that same pattern. Exactly. And if someone decides to do it different, then they feel that they don’t belong because they feel like, oh, okay, I’m doing it different. I am doing something wrong. That’s what the unconscious tells you. The family system always tries to keep together and doing the same so that you all feel comfortable. That like homeostasis. I don’t know how to say that word. homestasis. Sorry. We’re Hispanic. So some words get confusing. Exactly. But they’re just trying to keep the peace and equality and nothing changes. And then what? Something else comes to change, then there’s resistance. Yes. Okay. Do you see that a lot in the family constellations? Yes. So basically family constellations are meant for that so that people can actually come and see in the session. How are they going to be able to actually cut that pattern and be able to actually do it and not feel guilty? Okay. Because most of the time, the family system does start getting resentment and things like that when they start seeing you change. Yeah. You become the black sheep of the family. Exactly. And you’re the one actually healing. But it’s almost like you have to do the work for the whole family and then they make you feel bad, and then you start feeling bad, but then you need somebody or a group or a family constellation to make you feel that you’re not doing something bad. Yeah. Crazy. And you know what a great example is, for instance, when you’re playing the role of the mother of your parents. So most of the time when you’re playing that role, it’s very comfortable for the parents because they’re not doing their job. I think you’ve seen it very often. You can see it all the time. It’s like the parents are just like, okay, I’ll do whatever. The daughter is the one in charge and saying, what is it that needs to be done? And when that person decides to do it differently and actually becomes the daughter, the parents get really frustrated. And sometimes it’s a lot of like instead of being having a reconciliation, something like fights and all these things start happening, but then after a time, the healing starts happening. Okay, so it gets worse. It gets worse for a while. Just like therapy. Exactly. Just like almost anything in your life when you’re trying to fix it. Okay. Can you guide me or explain to me what a family constellation session would look like? Yeah, sure. So we work with phenomenology and so we have family constellations is a mix of traditional psychology and spiritual work. Okay. So we work with the quantic field, which means that when we go in a session, we connect to source, to the energy. Okay. So all the information that we have through the movements and through the information that the representatives are giving us is the way we configurate the family and heal, basically. Okay. That way. So there’s usually a group of ten people. Most of the time, the person that’s doing the family constellations sits right next to me, just the way we’re sitting here and the representatives are sitting in a circle. The person that is doing the family constellations chooses everyone depending on what she’s working on. So for example, if she’s working on her origin, so she chooses her mom, her dad, then someone to represent her as well. And then according to that and the information that the representatives or the resonators, we can also call them like that, say, is what the way we work. Okay. And nobody has an idea of what each other are working. Only you. Or do people know what their role is going to be beforehand? Yeah, they don’t have to because like I said before, is phenomenology. So it’s just about energy of feeling. Everyone starts feeling this crazy things that when they leave from there, they’re like, well, this is something else, because it’s really hard to explain. It’s more about experiencing it. No, I always hear that and I haven’t done one, even though I probably should because we always talk about course. Yeah, but it’s just one of those things that doesn’t have an explanation per se, not at least 100%. And we can understand that systemic part of it, the psychotherapy part of it. And I’m sure that healing can happen because just by getting a group together, if you think about group therapy, that alone can help. So bringing the spirituality into this whole inner healing work and having everybody help and contribute to other people’s healings, I’m sure it can be a wonderful and very powerful experience. Yeah, very powerful experience, yes. What are some of the I don’t want to say the craziest, the most amazing experiences you’ve had as a facilitator, without giving too many details, maybe, which work has been the most profound or powerful to you that comes to mind? Well, I think one of the most powerful one was last year. So I worked with a family and they all went to do a session, which is not usual because it’s really hard for everyone to actually connect. For a family to go to one appointment, even though it’s not together, it’s separate. When you’re doing a family consolations, we don’t recommend you bring in your real family. You just have people representing them because it’s from the spiritual part, the energy and the connection. So I worked with a family and they all went to a session except the father. So the father was he abused all the girls. So he was like an incest. And the brother was the one that will actually how do you say this? He watched all this situation, so he wasn’t the victim. Oh my God, what is the word? He was the witness. So he witnessed all of the girls being molested, basically. Wow. So it was a really interesting thing because the mother also went to session and the mother was totally like she wasn’t aware of all these things happening even though she knew about it. It’s just like when you’re in denial, but it turned out to be beautiful because at the end, the way they understood that this man was doing this because he was probably molested when he was a kid and we saw that in the family constellations. The way they actually saw that his story was the same story as them, actually opened up their heart and just made a healing movement. They were able to forgive. Yeah. Not like a regular yeah, but forget maybe okay, maybe with a better understanding exactly what happened or why he did that, we’re able to get a small amount of empathy of some sort or just to feel at ease. Some people it’s funny because some people, just by understanding where it is, why it is, like, why it happened, they get some healing out of it. Exactly. It’s really hard when you can’t understand. And I see a lot of that in victims. Why me? Why did he do that? But why? And it’s normal. We’re all human beings. We want to know. Right. So the fact that they’re able to get their whys answered, I’m sure, can be very powerful healing. Yes, definitely. So it turned out to be amazing transformational. And I’m pretty sure the family is going to have an evolution. They’re not going to get stuck in there because you don’t have to love your parents. You just have to honor them. That’s basically the law. You don’t really have to love anyone, but just honor that. That person is part of your information because you can’t do anything about it. You have their DNA, you have the same story. So if you hate a part of that person, it’s like you’re hating a part of you. That would be like projecting kind of. Exactly, yeah. How do you handle those clients that are very resistant? I mean, I’m sure once they get to you, it’s because they want to work at it. But have you had those clients that just like just very hard to break them or very hard for them to connect? Yeah, of course. You always get some of these people. But the interesting part about family constellations is that they see their soul in someone else that’s representing them. And when they start seeing this person act like them and feel things that they felt before, this totally opens up the heart of the people. That’s unbelievable. There they’re like, wow, this is something else. So it happens, but most of the time, eventually they break down. Eventually they break down. Okay. How many sessions do you usually need or you would recommend to solve? I don’t know. Is it different if you have a certain type of trauma or if you’re just going due to a love relationship? Do you recommend any amount of sessions? So basically there’s no maximum or minimum sessions because that everything depends on how deep you want to go. So it applies in every other therapy, I believe. So if you really want to go deep into your roots and you want to go deep into all your information, then you can keep on applying this philosophy and doing family consolations or going to workshops and be a representative. That also helps. Okay. So you don’t have to be the one seeking the healing. You can also volunteer to be a representative. Yes. And by being a representative, you are also working because you’re always resonator. You’re always resonating with a person that’s going to work. That’s not a coincidence that you’re in that family constellations. There’s something in your family system that reflects to that person’s family system. So in a very subtle way, you are also working. Yeah, that makes sense. My next question to you is why choose family constellation, in your opinion, over a regular psychotherapy, one to one? I mean, I know everybody, every theory works differently for different people, so I get that. But why would you recommend this over, like I said, traditional psychotherapy. So I think, like you said, it depends on the person. But me, it worked for me because it works from a phenomenological way. So what you live there, it’s something very different. The way people are, the resonators are helping you to actually get out all this information that since you’re subconscious that in a regular therapy, you’re not able to do that because you are working from your conscious mind. And I’m pretty sure there’s people that actually heal from it. But in my case, this was like the main thing that grabbed my attention. Yeah, I mean, that completely makes sense. I’ve done regular therapy. I have not done the family constellation. But after this conversation, I think I really want to try it, or at least I want to be an expectator at the beginning and then exactly see what’s going on. I know some people that might doubt this whole thing and they go and they’ve always told me it’s a real deal. Like, you have to be there to experience it. And I can only imagine how powerful it must be that people that are absolutely against it come back and tell me, michelle, no, you have to do it. So I have to do she’s guilty. Have you heard about this new Netflix show that everybody keeps talking about it, but go ahead. I have not seen it. I’ve heard about it and they’re doing it. Right. Is it a documentary? No, it’s more like a series type. It’s a Turkish series, actually has only eight episodes. Episodes. And it’s called my other self. So basically my other self is myself, like being healed after understanding all my family trauma and just becoming my real self. Because that’s who you start becoming when you start understanding why all this happened and getting the best out of it. It explains very clearly how family constellations work. They show many episodes where they do a consolation. So you see how the work is. See it? I have homework now, because you can only imagine, like I said, once you’re there and you see and you get to experience that, that’s when the real magic happens. And I’m not going to lie, I have my doubts, of course, because you are fully I think as human beings, we’re like wired neurologically to just you need to have an answer and you need to have a why and explain it to me. And it needs to be scientifically proven. So I think for anybody that is considering this, it might be a little I don’t want to say frightening, but just I don’t know, unsure. I’m sure they feel like it’s a real thing. What are you talking about? Energy? I don’t know this person. How is this person going to represent my dad? How do they know? So once you see it in real life, I think that’s when you get the opportunity to really trust the process. But that’s why I asked you if you had a lot of people that are hard to break, because I can imagine a lot of people go there with the wall, like, okay, I’m not going to do this or I’m not going to think that, but I’m glad to know that eventually they do break down. Yeah, most of them. Of course not everyone, but most of them, yes, most of the time it works. Amazing. How can someone from your experience recognize that they have transgenerational trauma? Are there any symptoms? Or when they come to you, what is their experience? Well, mainly is when you feel that there’s something missing in your life, like there’s something that doesn’t make sense. Or when you see the repetitive patterns with something that is causing you pain, with something that’s not allowing you to be your real self. Yeah, so, you know when you have that feeling that this is not me, or I’m trying to pursue a career and I can, or I’m trying to heal from a disease or from something, and it gets worse and worse, and you see that all your family has been through the same pattern. Same pattern. There you know that there’s something transgenerational. Okay. Almost like this keeps happening to me, but I don’t know why exactly, doing everything right. Like the example you mentioned, single mom, where everybody’s a single mom. And it’s almost like when you’re in a healthy relationship that’s out of the ordinary. So you just almost make it where you want to be the single mom. Or you make that happen. Right. And then you choose men that are going to abandon you because your unconscious is taking you there. And that’s the typical, oh, why do men why do I get the worst man? And you’re like, you’re choosing them. Yeah, they don’t choose you. And then we can talk about law of Attraction and all that and how you attract what you not, what you want, what you need. That’s a whole other podcast, but yes, I get it. And what would you recommend people, some tools for them to start their healing journey. So obviously there’s many things out there. I would start with meditation and mindfulness. That is like mindfulness. Just start to be aware and actually be conscious of every day what you do. How are you reacting, what is your relationship with your mom and your dad? Do you even give them a place in your heart? Just by that alone, you are starting to make a change. And then after that, obviously my expertise, which is family consolations. I also, of course, recommend that at least once to have that experience once can make a difference on its definitely it makes a huge difference. It’s like everything. It is not magic. You’re going to see in the series how at the beginning, it makes it seem like it’s a magical thing that you go and then next thing you know, your life is kind of like where you want it to be, but at the end, it shows you that it’s not what you think it’s right for you, is what you actually need. So it’s more about understanding life and honoring what comes to you. Yeah. And understanding yourself, ultimately. Do you work with youth as well or is mostly adults? Well, family constellations is for adults, so basically until you’re 18, okay. You’re still part of the subconscious of your parents. So if your parents work in a family constellation yeah. The kids feel the therapy or they can be part of it just by their parents working. So the best thing you can do is actually you doing your part, you healing yourself. Because the other person, like, let’s say that you have a sister that you see that is a drug addict. And this type of things like being addictions and all these things are obviously things that you’re carrying from something in the past. So if that sister doesn’t want to do any changes, that something happens. Sometimes it happens. All you can do is honor their destiny and send them information and things like that, but there’s nothing really you can’t do for them because you can’t save anyone. Yeah. You only have control over your own life and your own actions. And that’s really hard sometimes, especially with addiction. I’ve seen it front row. I have a friend whose brother has just been in addiction for multiple years, and when she would ask me what to do, that was my advice. I’m like, what can you do? You’ve tried. You’ve sent him to rehab, you’ve sent him money. You just got to do your own healing and your own life. And it sucks. It sucks. It sucks to accept that, but yeah, it’s something definitely that you have to work within yourself yeah. And then not bring it forward like you’re saying. And then yeah. The best way is just honoring their destiny because they need to go through that for a personal understanding. And obviously the family system is learning as well, because through them you see a lot of things and you have a lot of opportunities there to evolve as well. Yeah, exactly. I think it’s just hard for people to especially with family, because you end up feeling responsible for what happens to them, especially if it’s a brother or a sister. And it’s hard it’s hard to just accept and let them live the life they want to live. I think also as a mother, and I’m not there yet, but I’m like, I’m going to have to learn to just let him do whatever he does and mess up if he messes up and be there as guidance. But if he doesn’t end up being the person I want him to end up being, be okay with myself and not think that I did a bad job as a mother. And I think that’s hard for parents. You also have to have your expectations straight. Like you mentioned, doing own healing, personal work will eventually go on to them. And it’s a lot of responsibility to break the transgenerational trauma, to be that person that breaks it. The first one, the black sheep of the family, because they’re disturbing the system. So, yeah, if you want to call me the black sheep, go ahead. I’m a rebel. No, everything we’ve talked about today is just very powerful and it’s truth. Whether you want to do family constellation or just focus on psychotherapy, systemics therapy theories, whatever you want to focus on, I think is imperative that we do our own healing and work our own family trauma, because I do believe it’s family trauma, hence why I’m a family therapist. But I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you for coming, for having this wonderful conversation. Is there any last message you want to tell our audience? Any last piece of advice or enlightenment? Any enlightened thing you want to say? Well, what I say is that I invite you guys to come to a family consolations session. Like I was telling Michelle before, there is no cost to be a resonator or a witness. A witness? Yeah. In the group, the only persons that have to pay is the one that’s getting the family constellations, but you also get a benefit out of it. So you’re not only being there in service to the person that’s doing their family consolations, but you’re also there for a reason. You’re resonating with that family system. That’s why you’re there. So you’re also healing. Got it. And that is amazing. Yeah. So if you guys want to check it out, where can they find you? So my page is Meraki International Events because that’s like my company, the one that I work with. I do my events and all my workshops, and I do them in different parts of the world, basically. International. International. So that is my page. And yeah, I invite you guys. To go to the page. Try it out. Try it out. Yeah, I think I’m going to take your word for it and do one. At least it’s a witness at the beginning. You see. And then you decide if you perfect. All right. Well, thank you, guys. Thank you for joining me. Erica. Thank you guys for listening and I will see you next week. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe thank You.