Psychological Inheritance

“What better measure of what you were doing here
Then what you can leave behind
All the children of your children’s children
Do you ever think what they’re going to find” Peter Gabriel

When we think of inheritance we often think of material possessions handed down from generation to generation. Varying degrees of inheritance exist from great windfalls of money to sentimental objects holding no monetary value. It is probably fair to say that many receive no form of inheritance…at least of monetary value.

But we all receive a psychological inheritance – the mental, emotional, and behavioral possessions of our family members and ancestors. Contrary to inheritance in the traditional sense, we begin receiving our psychological inheritance at birth, not death. We internalize these possessions throughout our formative years, mostly outside of awareness, and pass them on to later generations.

With enough exploration, various behavioral and relational patterns can be identified in any family, often through multiple generations. Patterns such as addiction, abuse, incarceration, divorce, poverty and tragic deaths are often described as generational curses…

…But what do we place in the category of generational blessings? Surely if our families curse us, they bless us as well. I believe family traditions, vacations, weekend visits and the funny peculiarities of certain family members are the aspects of family life that bless us. These are the stories of lineage that bring joy, laughter and warmth.

Just as we seek to avoid what plagues individual functioning, we do the same on the familial level. Yet, the negativity we seek to avoid often holds the blessings we seek to find. Carl Jung states, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

Exploring inner darkness is not only a pathway to light but the mechanism by which the energies of darkness are harnessed and used for good if one so chooses. All that we consider darkness, evil or bad is just energy channeled in a particular way. It is all just energy; energy that possesses us or energy that we learn to control and use any way we choose.

We must have the courage to embrace what may be fearful, ugly or shameful and engage the necessary healing processes to break the curses of lineage. I believe all curses are blessings in disguise, calling us to take some action to bring light where there is darkness. What better legacy to leave behind. What better inheritance to pass on to the children of your children’s children.

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