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May 19, 2021

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The Orders of Love: Freedom from the Past

Some of us grew up rejecting one or both of our parents. We judged and criticized them, pushed them away, and vowed we would never be like them. We believed our parents didn’t do enough for us or that they could have been better parents. Life goes on, and we notice that we are making the same mistakes our parents did and that our life mimic theirs. Even though we vowed to do better with our children, we fall into the same patterns we experienced as children. Why is this?

The simple act of rejecting and pushing away one or both parents stops the flow of love with great consequences for us. We believe that by rejecting our parents, we will never be like them, but the opposite happens. When we reject our parents, we transgress the natural Orders of Love, and by doing so, we are more likely to be entangled with our parents and not free to live our own lives.

According to Bert Hellinger, when our family has been brought into its natural order, we can leave it behind while still feeling the strength of our ancestors supporting us. After acknowledging the connection to our family and understanding our responsibilities, we can free ourselves from the past and live a full life.

When we respect The Orders of Love, we allow great love to flow from our parents to us. We can receive and share this love by living according to this order. Our parents and ancestors still live within us, and we cannot be fully happy and free unless we live according to the orders of love. We are not a lost leaf floating alone; we are the branch of a tree, our family tree.

What are The Orders of Love?

After years of phenomenological work, Hellinger observed that certain patterns would emerge from the Knowing Field, deep within the unconscious of a family group. He named these patterns, The Orders of Love. These Orders are Belonging, Precedence, and Giving and Taking. Hellinger also observed that when these Orders are respected, the love and strength from our ancestors will healthily flow to us.


Everyone who belongs to a family system has the equal right to belong. We cannot exclude anyone because the system will not allow it. When a family member is denied the right to belong, disorder arises with serious consequences. Where there has been an exclusion of a family member, a movement is created in the family field to bring back the excluded one and give them back the place they deserve. If someone is excluded, the family soul includes it by assigning someone in a future generation to be entangled with the fate of the excluded person to balance the system, including what was excluded.

Some examples of exclusion are institutionalized mentally ill people, people who died tragically, imprisoned people, miscarriages, abortions, stillborn, children who are given away or adopted, and perpetrators. We can resolve these entanglements with Family Constellations by bringing back the excluded member and including them in the system. In this way, the order is restored; what was separated before is now reunited with others.


The Order of Precedence demands that everyone in the family take their rightful place, which belongs only to them. Precedence is a hierarchical order. In the family, some come first, and others come after them. The time of belonging determines the order of precedence. For example, parents come before their children; kids born first take precedence over those born later. Previous romantic partners need to be acknowledged and honored. When someone is excluded in a family system, a later member will represent the earlier excluded member, honoring their right to belong and balancing the system.

Giving and Taking

There must be a balance between giving and taking in our relationships for us to strive in them. As soon as we receive something from someone, we feel obliged to give them something of equal value. We feel indebted to them until we give them something in return, settling the debt. After that, we feel free toward this person again.

Our parents gave us the greatest gift, which is life itself. We can never give back to our parents as much as they gave us. But we take it from our parents and give it to our children by passing life to them. We can also give to our life projects and other contributions to humanity. The family system also seeks balance and compensation across generations. What happened in the past affects the present generation.

“Love must be incorporated within an order. The order precedes love. This is what we observe in nature: a tree grows according to an order contained within. It can only grow within this order. The same thing happens with love and human relations: love can only grow within an order. This order is a precondition, a prerequisite for love. As soon as we know the orders of love, our relationships and our love has a greater chance to fully expand.”

Bert Hellinger
Who is missing from this picture?

Close your eyes for a minute and bring to your awareness your family of origin; your parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, and aunties from both sides. Imagine that you have all your family together for a moment. What do you notice? Is there anybody missing from this picture, and why? Is there a “black sheep” who abandoned the family? Is there anyone you don’t want to include in this image because you feel they don’t deserve to be there? Who is missing?

When we exclude family members from their rightful place in the family, we create an energetic blockage for ourselves and the whole system. Exclusion affects everyone because the system encompasses all its members to function with balance. The criticism, judgment, rejection, and exclusion of family members result in strife for everyone. The solution is to bring these excluded family members back into our hearts. We don’t need to be in a relationship with them; we only embrace them as part of the family, especially the ones we dislike the most. Where there is a great emotional charge, there is also a great blockage. Exclusion brings chaos to the family system; the only solution is radical inclusion! With inclusion, it comes order. When the family system is in order, the energy flows, and all is well for everyone.

Adriana Romero, Ph.D

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Family Constellations is a transgenerational approach that explores the individual’s place within their family system. When a family system is balanced, the forces of love and belonging can flow freely, embracing and supporting every member.