From Shame to Responsibility. A Look at Europe’s Soul

— Article written by  Barbara v. Meibom

Approximately 200 participants were involved in a constellation process during the recent Integral European Conference called “Re-Inventing Europe”. This revealing process shows the integration work that still needs to be done in Europe.


If Europe wants to tackle the current crisis without relapsing into nationalistic and specific egoic self-interests, it must make a leap in consciousness. But whether we will see such a leap is not simply a matter of thinking and feeling. The current challenge with its conflicts in and between different peoples goes even much deeper. It is also an expression of the forces acting within the individual and collective unconscious. These need to be raised into awareness or consciousness. There is hope based on impulses coming from an integral point of view – this view can help tackle the emerging feelings of insecurity, loss of home and alienation with empathy and at the same time decidedly support the commitment for human coexistence. At the 2nd Integral European Conference, which was held in May 2016 at Lake Balaton and organized by the Integral Academy Hungary and Europe Integral, 400 people from 30 countries dedicated themselves to this possible leap in consciousness with the main topic of reinventing Europe.

Thomas Hübl, one of many prominent speakers of the conference, presented the challenge within a context of dealing with the collective shadow. How do we get from reaction to resonance and from there to responsibility? In reaction, we are controlled by acts of unconscious impulses on autopilot. When fear, anger, rage, greed, pain, shame, guilt or pride wreak havoc in the unconscious, it can result in much suffering. In resonating we may respond – we resonate. At the stage of responsibility, we take responsibility for our own thinking, feeling and acting – hopefully so that it serves peace and the welfare of all concerned.


However, this requires a path through the shadow forces of the unconscious and coming into contact with the split-off pain, not only one’s own but the collective as well.

How this could be possible was demonstrated in a most impressive way in a 4-hour large systemic constellation – for many participants the heart of the conference. An attempt was made using the so-called knowing fields to create a healing impetus for peaceful coexistence within the European space. This involved not only 25 individuals that represented European countries, but also 25 more who represented collective issues such as the soul of Europe, the soil of Europe, war, migration, flight, colonialism, terrorism, persecutors, victims, shame, peace, masculine, feminine, children, the Middle East, Africa … In a defined sacred space, around which approximately 150 other conference participants were grouped, the center was marked and the representative of the soul of Europe was requested to take her place on a throne in the middle. The process then started when the country representatives and the representatives of the different energies entered the sacred space by following only their impulses and without speaking. From the outside it was not possible to recognize what or whom the individuals represented. One thing stood out in particular amidst the abundance of deeply touching interactions and chain interactions – a spotlight was thrown on the power of the individual and collective unconscious with which we are currently dealing. The representative of the soul of Europe left her throne after a short time and moved to the periphery of the field in an obvious effort to have an integrative and healing effect. She had barely left her throne when a young woman headed directly to the free space, sat down and kept her place with persistent determination. In the feedback concerning this role, she expressed that she had never felt so powerful in her life over such a long period of time. A circle of various representatives soon formed around her and paid her homage. There were others, however, including the soul of Europe, who tried to remove her from her place – but without success. In the feedback afterwards, this young woman said there were only two people who had caused her to doubt the legitimacy of her place. As it turned out later, this was the representative of the children of Europe and the representative of Germany.




The process became more alive when the representative of the soul of Europe decided to “break through” – as the soul itself often gives more dramatic impulses to those who are not willing to listen. A process of “dethroning” began, cautiously at first. The chair was tilted to one side, and the young woman was gently brought to the ground. And there she was – simply and truly herself and all those around her began a careful show of acceptance and affection.

Just exactly what energy does this person represent who seized the throne of the soul of Europe? It was, as it turned out, the representative of shame. From a deep psychological point of view such a process can be highly revealing.


Shame – the taboo emotion (Stephan Marks) – is so threatening that we humans do everything possible to avoid it.

Fight, flight, and freeze are archetypal patterns of defense. That which is shameful is split off into the unconscious. This defense mechanism robs us of energy and keeps us trapped in the reaction mode because the shame dynamic remains unconscious. This highly revealing process was observable in the systemic constellation: the young woman on the throne was a powerful example of shame that had been split off into the unconscious. She was granted power by means of worship which was given to her from all sides. This energy was purposefully extended to keep shame where it belonged – namely in the unconscious.

With this deep psychological overview, it is of interest to note which representatives were able to question her claim to power. First of all, it was the energy of the child. This was followed by the representative of Germany who maintained a long intensive eye contact with her. Germany has dealt so intensively with the shame dynamic that in our country (as well) a sense of perception has grown to recognize shame when it is used for the purpose of gaining or maintaining power, i.e. when shame is used to manipulate.

Another encouraging element was how the “dethroning” took place. It was not a renewed process of splitting off something undesirable into the unconscious but it was a process of mindful awareness that gave attention and affection. Within the interaction during this intensive process, where even those sitting in the outer circle took part, a connection of energies took place that was aimed at healing, wholeness and connectedness.

I view the process that took place at Lake Balaton as an important contribution in dealing with the collective shadow. Much of the current turmoil in Germany, in Europe and between European countries apparently are related to the fact that the persecutor and victim dynamic based on centuries of wars and particularly the recent past have been split off from this collective and individual consciousness into the unconscious and this keeps us in reaction mode. This shadow needs to be seen, appreciated for what it is and accepted so that our energy can be released to preserve and strengthen the European project of maintaining peace in these turbulent times of financial and refugee crises.



Barbara von Meibom

Prof. Dr. Barbara v. Meibom

Communio – Institut für Führungskunst
Wielandstr. 38 • 12159 Berlin–Friedenau
Tel. +49 (0)30-50 59 52 36 • Fax +49 (0)30-25 56 35 19


The article was published in german language in evolve Nr.11


LEBENDIGKEIT – Der Impuls, der alles bewegt





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