Tag Archive: family

The inescapable impact of our ancestry



In a paper from Jon Blend and Roz Carroll Witnessed Improvised Diaspora Journey Enactments (WIDJE): an experiential method for exploring refugee history, the authors’ interest was on the impact of forced displacement of people from their family and culture. Their focus was on current refugee movements, and on the displacement and loss of family for the Jews from the last World War.  Their paper reviews what is known, and then provides a way for displaced peoples to begin to heal and reconnect with their past.

Why is this important? Because whether a person is able to have a connection with their ancestors – both in terms of their blood relations and community – people’s identity is impacted in profound ways.

Becoming separated from our past creates wounds that we protect and pass to our offspring. It prevents us from living fully, or for our children to live fully.

I invite you to consider that almost everyone in the United States and Canada is, to some extent, displaced from their history.  Most families and individuals who immigrated to North America did so because they had to, leaving behind their community and families and culture to begin again.  The indigenous peoples of North America were forced away from their communities and ways of living – even from their lands – by those same people; thereby losing their birthright.

We all have a birthright to reclaim. Sometimes that means recreating or rebirthing ourselves, sometimes it means retracing our stories (including what we imagine as the stories of our forbearers), and sometimes it means a little of both. By doing so, we reconnect ourselves to our past, and create a positive connection for those who come after us.

There is an indigenous belief that we are influenced by the 7 generations before us, and will influence the 7 generations after us. How do you want to influence everyone that comes after you?



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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .



Mon, Dad and the Kids – How our families help us grow


I sit and watch a friend agonizing over something she’s writing, moaning she’s no good at this kind of thing. She does this all the time.  She writes for a living and is really pretty good at it, but that doesn’t stop the moaning and occasional self-doubt.

It may be true that she wasn’t born with a natural talent to put words on paper. I really can’t think of anyone who is. But she’s developed that talent: encouraged by teachers and family, not only to pursue what she wanted to pursue, but also by their own power of example, showing her how to live successfully. Her accomplishment is just as real and “valid” as if she were born with it. She’s worked really hard to get to the level of competence she’s at, and I applaud her.

Seth Godin, in his recent blog titled The Musclebound Baby, reminded me that when we see a person with a lot of muscles, we don’t assume they were born that way.  Instead we assume they worked hard to develop those muscles.

Family traits are way more than what gets handed down through genes.  We all know that. How our parents raise us; how we were nurtured by them; how they modeled being an adult to us; even the family culture – all of these are major influencers in the way we develop.  There’s even some evidence that some traits are picked up at a cellular level, even if not genetically (For instance, we now know that if a mother is malnourished during pregnancy, she will carry that information in her cells to her offspring down the generations).

What I find so cool is knowing that whatever I’ve picked up from my parents, I can use to build up my strength.  Sure, I can also use them to limit myself, but I’d rather see what I can make of them to expand my capabilities and options.

Like my friend, who learnt through dogged effort (which she learned from her Mother) to write well.


NOTE: the photo above is from a BING screenshot.  It’s something you can get, as I did, if you have a Windows Operating System.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .