365 ways to energize – a daily companion to living with health, purpose, and joy

Understanding your family’s genogram

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Day 122What character traits do you appreciate in your parents?

Your parents’ positive characteristics did perhaps not stand out, or even cross your mind when you were growing up. Your parents were your parents and you were ‘wired’ to love them. Their weaknesses perhaps scared, irritated or saddened you, but you couldn’t do much about changing them.

As we meet life’s challenges, and experience our own struggles through adulthood, we have an opportunity to look at our parents with new eyes. We can allow ourselves to be inspired by their strengths and learn from them with a new openness. We can also develop greater empathy for their weaknesses; especially if we listen to their stories and hear what they have experienced and endured. We can also understand that certain negative patterns and behaviors they had or have, we have carried on, even though we perhaps were determined to be different.

In one of my university studies we explored our family’s emotional relationships through what is called a ‘genogram’. “A genogram is a graphic representation of a family tree that displays detailed data on relationships among individuals.” It allows the user to analyze hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships.”

I interviewed my parents and asked about their parents, grandparents and their great grandparents life stories and emotional wellbeing. It was very interesting and valuable for me to get insights into my family’s history. To go beyond the family tree with names, dates and professions and instead learn more about the person, and understand their history helped me understand what formed their personalities and why my parents have certain values and characteristics today.

I can highly recommend becoming more curious about your parents and family psychological history. It can help you gain a greater appreciation for your parents and even give you a better understanding of yourself, your own challenges and struggles as a result of your family heritage and inspire you to stop family patterns that do not serve you or coming generations.

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