Do you ever wonder what someone would think if they saw the items in your purse? If you looked in my purse right now, you would find a flower vase, hand-sanitizer, a hair-bow, a protective face mask, an old glow stick, a pen, a tape measure, lotion, Zyrtec, a marker, a flashlight, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
While random, each of these items is there for a reason: The mask, hand-sanitizer, and Zyrtec are in there to keep me safe, the flower vase is a gift and the tape measurer is for a project I am working on.
The items in my purse are not directly related to my love life or yours. However, taking a look at our lives and what we carry around (physically and metaphorically), reveals a lot about who we are and the impact this baggage can have on our relationships.
What is a Generational Curse?
According to The Gospel Coalition, a “generational curse describes the cumulative effect on a person of things that their ancestors did, believed, or practiced in the past, and a consequence of an ancestor’s actions, beliefs, and sins being passed down.”
Our families’ history and baggage impacts who we are as people, whether we like it or not. You may consider your family a blessing or consider them a burden because of the long history of negative traits they’ve passed down.
An example of a generational curse is divorce. Your parents grew up in homes with divorced parents, so they both lacked a clear picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. With this negative example, your parents developed unhealthy relationship habits and passed those on to you. You might be afraid of commitment because you are afraid of passing down the same trauma or pain that you experienced as a child to your own children. And this fear of commitment may prevent you from experiencing the gift and freedom found in authentic love.
Breaking a Generational Curse
While your family history has an effect on you, you are not bound by these generational curses.
You have the choice to continue in the footsteps of your ancestors and pass on these curses to your children, or with great diligence, you can end those curses over your life and future. You get to decide if the generational curse continues or ends.
There is great freedom in breaking a generational curse and creating a healthier relationship for yourself, the people you love, and the generations to follow.
Start With The Genogram Exercise
Recognizing a generational curse is the first step in the fight to end it.
In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero shares an exercise called a genogram. This exercise helps identify generational sin and its impact on an individual.
Genograms can be freeing because they show that you’re not the only one in your family who has struggled with specific things. It’s designed to bring light to the darkness of generational curses and help you walk forward in the light. It’ll help you understand how your family’s behavior impacts your relationships with your significant other, friends, or relatives.
Draw Your Family Tree
There are a lot of ways to complete a genogram. You can adapt it to your comfort level and needs. It can look complicated at first but don’t lose sight of the big picture–to find generational behaviors that have been passed down to you.
First, start by drawing a family tree and include 3-4 generations if you can. This is you, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents. You can also include the siblings, spouses, and long-term significant others within each generation.
Once you have your family tree, start gathering information using the questions listed below:
1. Were you impacted by a divorce, separation or affair?
2. Have you ever lived with a significant other who you weren’t married to?
3. Were you impacted by the abuse of drugs or alcohol?
4. Were you impacted by someone else’s mental illness or your own?
5. Did you experience any kind of physical or emotional abuse?
6. Have you experienced the death of someone close to you, including a miscarriage or suicide?
7. Did you have cancer or serious health conditions?
8. Have you had an abortion?
9. What is your relationship to money?
10. Did anyone ever tell you they were proud of you?
11. What is your greatest fear?
12. Were your parents present?
13. Do you have long-term friends?
14. Did your family ever foster a child?
15. Were you ever in foster care?
16. Are you a twin?
17. Did your family ever adopt a child?
18. Did you ever put a child up for adoption?
19. Did your family run a business?
20. Are you a veteran of war?
These questions are simply suggestions, so adapt them in order to uncover details you think are most helpful.
Once you have a list of questions, start by filling out the answers you know. There is not a right or wrong way to do this, so choose a method that makes the most sense for you. Once you’ve written down the information you already know, call your relatives to ask for answers to the remaining questions.
It isn’t necessary to speak with everyone on the tree, but talk to as many people as possible so you can better understand who they are and their behavior patterns. The more information you have, the more you’ll understand trends and generational curses that have impacted you.
Keep in mind as you do the genogram exercise, many more things may come to the light than you expected—so be patient with yourself and your family. This process can be healing, but before you can break those curses, you may endure a period of grief or even anger because of the brokenness in your family. This is normal and natural. But remember that no family is perfect, and there are families hiding much more difficult truths than the ones you discover about yours.
Talk With Your Loved Ones
Breaking a generational curse will take a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Once you have a better understanding of your family history, evaluate how those life events impacted you indirectly or directly and have honest conversations with the people you are closest with.
Maybe you’re in a committed relationship, have a group of close friends, or have children–whatever your circle looks like, be open about the curses you’ve uncovered. Let your community come around you to listen and help you process your emotions, and invite them to keep you accountable to breaking bad habits and curses in your life.
Hearing from you will give them more context for some of the habits you struggle with. Maybe you struggle with anger or trust issues—whatever it is, your loved ones will be more inclined to offer grace and patience as you process through your family history and work to end those curses.
Begin The Healing Journey
But talking with your loved ones is just the beginning. You’re now on a long but wonderful journey toward a better future for yourself and your family:
Reflect on the existing generational curses in your life; how do they manifest in you and your family?
Investigate your own life; do your behaviors reflect bad patterns? What destructive actions have you learned from older generations in your family?
Identify the ways you want your life and behaviors to be different.
Use a whiteboard or journal and track your feelings and changes day by day or week by week.
Pray for the strength to fight ingrained habits.
Celebrate successes as you transition away from generational curses.
Finally, don’t do it alone—seek the support of a counselor.
Maybe it isn’t common in your family or friend circle to seek counseling, but we encourage you to find a licensed professional counselor who you feel comfortable opening up with. A counselor can help you process your thoughts and emotions in a healthy way and help you identify generational curses manifesting in your life. Thankfully, there are professionals available to fit every person, budget, and schedule.
The Source has licensed professional counselors at each of our women’s health clinics, as well as medical professionals available to help you if you have an unplanned pregnancy or need an STI test.
Click the button below to request a 30-minute appointment with The Source today!