Do it yourself: Burnout

Self-determined instead of controlled by others
Protection against stress and burnout through systemic autonomy training



Burnout is on the rise, causing great human suffering and economic damage running into the billions.

Those affected have learned to adjust too much to the expectations of others. They are over-identified with performance, as if their self-worth depends solely on performance, and therefore cannot protect themselves against being overwhelmed. As a result, they gradually become exhausted, which is frightening, can lead to depression and psychosomatic illnesses. Identified with achievement, they experience their exhaustion as weakness, as failure. The more exhausted they are, the more they force themselves to do even more. This vicious circle drives them further and further into exhaustion until they break down. The loss of self- esteem prevents them from seeking help in good time, going to the doctor or therapist, take sick leave or going to a cure once.


Burnout is understood here as a partial aspect of the symbiosis pattern, as an – acquired – confusion of perception and feeling. Those affected tend to orient themselves more towards an – external – authority and thereby neglect their own perception and their own needs. In other words, they give authority the space, the attention, the importance that really belongs to their self, the part of the personality that can be separated from the expectations of others in a healthy way.
The result: they are separated from themselves. The foreign authority in the place of one’s own self acts like a “Trojan” that disrupts or even blocks one’s own “program”. These unconscious connections can be made visible through a constellation and resolved by exchanging the “Trojan” for the self..

With the help of this introduction, a person affected can research and solve his “burnout pattern” himself.

Required props:

  • two chairs, for the person opposite and for his own self (place a pillow for your own self on top of the chair)

  • a pillow – for your own self

  • a scarf as a symbol of a border

I recommend bringing in someone you know as an “assistant” to accompany you every step of the way.


The test person first selects representatives for a reference person (superior) or for the suppressive institution (company) and his / her own suppressed “self”.

By “self” we mean the part of the personality that does not have to identify with performance and therefore feels free and carefree, that can delimit itself without feelings of guilt, that can successfully defend itself.

Now the test person relates himself to the caregiver and then feels where the representative stands for his “self”. Mostly he is extremely close – or extremely distant (“over-demarcation”!) – to the reference person. His “self” is usually further away. This is already an indication of a symbiosis pattern (lack of demarcation from the caregiver and distance to one’s own self-parts).


Assistant (puts a scarf between the test subject and the other person, as
Symbol for a border, and notes): „You are completely without him, he is completely without you. You are not a part of him, he is not a part of you!”

Assistant asks the test person, „How does that feel for you?”

It may be that the test person experiences the scarf as relieving and / or painful, both (!) Speak for a lack of demarcation.

The Assistant is checking the


Assistant to the test person: stand in the seat of the person opposite.

Assistant asks: „How does this place feel? Do you know the feeling of having to fully identify with the expectations of this person? More than your own needs? And how are you doing?”

If the respondent’s expectations and ideas are closer, more important than his own, this speaks for a lack of demarcation, for a lack of distinction between self and foreign, for IDENTIFICATION WITH THE OPPOSITE.


Assistant to the test person: „You can decide to get out of the” wrong “place by crossing the scarf, the symbol of the border, and going back to your own place.

The test person can say the solution sentences from his own place: Test person:„You are you and I am me. I am not part of you, you are not part of me! I am complete without you! You have your views, your expectations, your own evaluations, and I have my own, and they can be very different from yours!”

Even with these two steps, the test person can experience an inner, unconscious inhibition; if he takes a closer look, he feels fear or feelings of guilt, as if these steps were “not so nice” or “dangerous”

These feelings are an expression of his symbiotic confusion. As long as he orients himself to these unconscious feelings, he remains stuck in confusion.


This is a very bizarre dynamic. The person concerned believes that they have understood the “spirit” of the work better than the others and thus has the illusion of being superior to them. The hypothesis: Because he feels – wrongly – inferior to the other in his position, he tries to “hit” him on his own field with his own weapons. In doing so, he loses the relationship with himself, with his own perception, with his own legitimate needs and expectations.

Assistant: “Do you think you know better than your supervisor what his job would actually be in the company? Would you like to convey this to him, as if you wanted to teach him how he should ideally be, according to his own ideology? That feels kind of superior, but it prevents you from being with yourself and protecting yourself. You can decide to get out of this position.


Assistant to the test person: „You can decide to get out of this” wrong “place and go back to your own place.”

The test person can say the solution sentences from his own place: Test person: „It is not my job to grasp the“ spirit ”of the work and to bring it closer to you. Whether and how you are connected to this spirit is your sole responsibility. I take care of my own self!”


Assistant: „Put the caregiver to your right, in the place where your own self actually belongs and feel how it feels for you? And where is your self then?

Strangely enough, for many it feels familiar, downright relieving, as if it gave them security! But the caregiver in their own space blocks their own self, they act like a “Trojan“. This confusion of the other person with oneself leads to the fact that the person concerned no longer feels his own self, as if he were separate from him. That causes a separation of the own self!

(By the way: This dynamic corresponds exactly to what Milgram described in his well-known EXPERIMENT as an agent state: the client becomes a – will-less, possibly also unscrupulous – tool of a superior reference person: obedience to authority.)


Assistant: „If you want to give your own self its appropriate place again, then you can say to your caregiver:“ You don’t belong in my space, and certainly not in the place of my self! You belong in your room. ”- The client leads his counterpart back to their seat. „This is my room and I have my own self!“ The client brings his self – which he has apparently put „in front of the door” himself – back in again and put it in the place it deserves.


Next, the test person gives back to the caregiver, symbolized by a heavy stone, what he has unconsciously taken over as if it were his own: foreign expectations, evaluations and convictions.

Test person: „These are your expectations, your evaluations, your beliefs. Maybe I wear / represent them as if they were my own. From today I will leave them with you! “

Here, too, it is important to pay attention to internal resistance and to make it aware.


Assistant: „Perhaps, in order to better adapt to this caregiver, you suppressed your own self-parts that you are missing, perhaps the adult part, who can feel free, independent and innocent, who knows what gives them joy, or the child self that is allowed to have needs and desires, that is vulnerable, that is allowed to have “undesirable” feelings: anger, anger, hatred, and fear.

Would you like to have more connection with these self-parts or are they perhaps dangerous?“

Test person attentively approaches the representative of his “self” and feels how it feels when he reconnects with this part of himself. Sometimes he feels a mistrust of his own self, as if it were wrong or dangerous. Did he see it from the perspective
of the caregiver – through their “glasses”, so to speak? Then it is necessary to symbolically take off these strange “glasses” and see yourself with your own “original” eyes. Now the self appears perfectly right, harmless and very attractive! Now he can merge with himself instead of – as before – with the caregiver!


Assistant: „If you want to stay connected to yourself in this way, then you need your own space. Are you ready to protect the boundaries of this space. It is your own space, your self-space. For example, if it says Peter on it, it should also be Peter! There may be all sorts of strangers in your inner space, just not Peter! Do you want to be a “sham”?! Can you differentiate between “Peter” and „Not-Peter?”

The test person is ready to distinguish and symbolically protect his boundary against the caregiver. This one moves towards him, and the client is allowed to run towards him, stop him before he has even approached.

Here, too, an inner resistance can usually be felt, as if it were hurtful, loveless, ungrateful to distance oneself. The own feeling is confused as an expression of an unconscious internalized “prohibition of demarcation”. Healthy demarcation is something like a “defensive reflex”: It makes it possible to feel one’s own wishes and needs – without mixing them up with those of the caregiver. In this way the test person can orientate himself again and is able to act again!


If the client cannot perceive and protect his own border, then he can usually not respect other people’s borders. Perhaps he was even “programmed” through his upbringing to stand up for foreign interests as if it were his own to feel responsible in foreign territories? In order to resolve this confusion, it is important for him to experience physically that there are foreign borders, that he is not responsible in foreign territories.

The test person runs – “with the best of intentions” – towards the reference person and now experiences how this person – represented by the assistant – stops him at the border.

The assistant accompanies, explains and comments on this process. If the test person was previously shaped by the idea that the “meaning of his life” was to be available for others, to be indispensable for others, then this demarcation can be very painful for him. But this idea was an expression of his confusion. And if he has his own territory that he is allowed to protect, then that also applies to the opposite! And no matter how hard he tries, he cannot really be successful in foreign territory where he is not responsible. Usually there is only anger and disappointment. If he respects this limit himself, or if someone points out this limit to him, then he could actually be grateful for it!


The assistant accompanies the test person through the process. In doing so, he pays attention to the test person’s inner inhibitions at every step, and supports him
in making himself aware of them, to recognize that they come from his childhood and that they are no longer valid for him as an adult today.

“When you grow up, you can also do things that feel forbidden!”

“You only grow up by breaking the prohibitions of childhood!“


The symbolic level of the constellation makes the client aware of the cause of his burnout: the “confusion” of foreign authority with his own self, and therefor enables him to solve this by putting his self back in the right place and his own possession of space through demarcation. Through this autonomy training the client comes to a healthy distance to the counterpart, he has got a feeling for his self-space and feels a better connection with himself. With the healthy distance, the counterpart loses his overwhelming power and becomes less threatening. Through the demarcation ritual, the client experiences himself as powerful, as capable of acting. In this way he gains more respect for himself, but also for the other person.

The self-esteem and ability to deal with conflict gained in this way enables a different quality of relationship – beyond symbiotic dependency and submission to a foreign authority – in the sense of an encounter at eye level.

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