Why then is it so difficult - maybe even impossible - for us to forgive sometimes?
My observations of forgiveness in the Family Constellations Field have provided some powerful insights into the patterns underpinning one’s ability to forgive – or not forgive. These patterns are devoid of the scripts and dramas which our personalities dump on top of our experiences, and reveal what is going on at the subconscious - or Soul - level of the individual and their family.
It is what Good People do
My personal observation of people “forgiving” others in the Field was that it often felt very lightweight – lacking in gravitas and authenticity. It was as if it was “the right thing to do”; what was expected of a “good” person; or to ensure a ticket to heaven. It also seemed to come from a place of ego, lightly cloaked in a sense of superiority, suggesting “Look how good and Holy I am!”
Such expressions of forgiveness invariably also didn’t seem to really touch the Soul of the recipient in a constellation. They often times also added the plea, “Please forgive me!” because it was, presumably, also what is expected.
Give and Take
One pattern that becomes very obvious in this work is the balance of “give and “take”, which Bert Hellinger identified as paramount in all types of relationships. Discord arrives when one person feels that they have given more than they have received in an exchange, and the same applies in the case of a victim/perpetrator scenario. If someone “takes” from another – whether stealing their property; their innocence; their childhood or their partner, they are in “debt” to that person. If they then come along and ask for forgiveness, it will often invoke anger in the victim, because they are now being asked to give even more, and the scales become further imbalanced. This can often elicit shock in the perpetrator, who extols, “But I’m asking for forgiveness!” as if that is enough. It is not!
The healing and balancing becomes possible when the perpetrator first acknowledges that they have wronged their victim, and takes full responsibility for their actions, with no caveats – including asking for, or expecting, to be forgiven. Only then can the scales of injustice move towards a more balanced state, and the victim may move towards forgiving that person, if they so choose.
Face First the Pain
Another pattern that has revealed itself in the Field is that it is impossible for some people to forgive someone who has harmed them – let’s say for example a rapist – unless the underlying pain and trauma has been fully expressed and released. Otherwise it is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a cancerous wound. Creating a safe and contained environment in which a client can first express anger and rage towards a perpetrator, is the starting point – and it’s often not a pretty sight! It takes great courage and an absence of personal triggers in a facilitator to be able to hold that container.
Cathartic expressions and actions have long been used in therapy to access these often deeply submerged pain bodies, but it is only the beginning of the process. Many victims are waiting for their perpetrator to hold themselves accountable for their actions, and even to apologize. Sometimes in a constellation the representative for the perpetrator will exhibit shame or express remorse for their actions – more usually when the actual perpetrator is dead – but invariably they will not.
The next movement is therefore to guide a client to the point where they realize that an apology may never be forthcoming, and that it is an exercise in futility to wait for one to arrive. It only keeps them stuck back on their timeline where the trauma occurred. Family Constellations, Shamanic Soul Retrieval and Internal Family Systems are just some of the many tools available to help extract a client from that dark space and into the light of their current lives.
Forgiving Oneself
One of the biggest patterns we encounter in this work is the inability many of us have to forgive ourselves. It is as if we have our own victim and perpetrator parts are at war with each other inside us, and peace can be hard to achieve. Interestingly, the approach to healing this pattern is not too dissimilar to dealing with an external conflict. It firstly involves acknowledging these two main parts of ourselves; discovering when and why they arrived in our experiential timeline; and what purpose they served at that time. That deeper revelation has the affect of taking the sting out of the experience, and very often reveals that it was a choice which has actually served us well – maybe even keeping us alive!
The final truth revealed by the Field that I’d like to share is the most magical!
As one guides a constellation towards a healing resolution; the family system is put into good order; and all involved take responsibility for their choices and actions, something much deeper emerges. It becomes evident that the perpetrators have themselves invariably been victims during their own journeys, and have passed their pain forward onto others. It is a truly sacred moment in a constellation: The realization that we are all victims at some level.
At that point Empathy arrives in the Field, and in the participants, and the most amazing insight becomes absolutely clear – there is nothing to forgive! The need for forgiveness simple evaporates!
It may sound ridiculously simple at first, but having experienced it many times in both groups and individual sessions, it is truly an awe inspiring moment. There is indeed something “beyond forgiveness”, and we call it Empathy.

And it leads me to suggest that forgiveness, while still a desirable higher vibration, resides at the level of the personality.

Empathy arises from the level of the Soul!

One of the things we are constantly encouraged to do by healers and teachers -

and in numerous blogs and publications – is to forgive those who have aggrieved

or harmed us in some way.

And those of us brought up in the Judeo Christian paradigm

are left in no doubt that this is what is expected of us.



Richard Higgins began his exploration of personal growth, esoteric and metaphysical subjects at the age of 21. During the last 43 years he has been exposed a wide spectrum of teachers and belief systems.


In parallel with his career as a film and television producer and director Richard studied the work of many metaphysical teachers, and has interviewed or met among others Neale Donald Walsh; Deepak Chopra; Diane Cooper and David Icke.


He has studied Gregg Braden's work; Drunvalo Melchizedek's Flower of Life teachings; and Gary Smith's Sacred Merkaba Techniques.  He learnt Shamanic work from, among others, Michael Owen of the Twisted Hair tradition, and with Incan Shamans from Peru.


Richard met J.Z. Knight and worked with Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment  both in Seattle and in South Africa. 


By blending the basics of Numerology, Creation Theory and Sacred Geometry, Richard has developed his own unique system called Transpersonal Numerology.


After over three decades in the film and television industry, Richard closed his production company to devote himself full time to his Numerology and to Family Constellations - the work developed by German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger.  He facilitates workshops through his Family Healing Circle and also offers training in both modalities.


Richard lives with his artist wife Ronnie Biccard in Fish Hoek, Cape Town, South Africa.

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