Genealogy and Psychology

A historical fiction book I am reading is about a man and his wife who inherited his father’s house. As they were cleaning the house, they found a secret door in a closet that led them to an attic. Inside the attic were trunks and trunks of letters, documents, photos, etc. from Germany and Sudetenland. They even found references to the Nazis.  

The couple met as psychology majors in college. The wife had mentioned a connection to psychology and the study of family history when the husband wanted to shut down the investigation of all they had found. Since I know that gardening is very beneficial to mental health, I wanted to see how my other passion, genealogy, was helpful as well. 

From Psychology Today, it states, 

Why is Emotional Genealogy Important?

Every living thing has origins and ancestors. We are all part of a chain of life. We owe our existence to those who came before us. Simply put, if they hadn’t lived, we would have no life. And yet, most people ignore their antecedents and have no knowledge of what and who preceded them. A tree cannot ignore its roots, or it will get no nourishment. The same is true for us. We can be nurtured by our roots, even if they weren’t healthy. They may have been toxic, but they also endowed us with intelligence, talents, and positive attributes. We can honor those who came before us, and what they endured so we could have life. It is possible to make sense of the dysfunction in our families by understanding where they originated and how they were handed down. And by understanding, we can decide not to pass the dysfunction on, and to change our family behavior patterns. And we can get relief from the rootlessness, so many of us feel. Finding out where we come from can give roots, solidity, and meaning to our lives. It can also help us to solve the mystery of who we really are.

This one sentence stands out for me, “And by understanding, we can decide not to pass the dysfunction on, and to change our family behavior patterns.”

That is how I choose to live. Understand, change the pattern, help yourself.  

Think about it, when we think of a memory, or we see something that triggers a memory, it gives us emotions, good or bad. Our stories are meant to be shared and remembered. They are who we are, how we are, where we are today.   

So, don’t hold back. Research your family history in all it’s glory or ugly past. Knowledge is power, and yours is to be treasured so you can break the pattern.   

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