032: It's Time to Own Those Generational Curses and Renew Your Legacy

032: It's Time to Own Those Generational Curses and Renew Your Legacy
Photo by Tyler Nix / Unsplash

"You can choose your friends but you're stuck with your family."

Whoever said that understood that "stuck" can mean a variety of things.

You could be "stuck" wondering what to do about a wayward family member.

"Stuck" in a vortex of family tension.


"Stuck" in a generational pattern of negativity and conflict or other toxic, life-sucking behaviors.

Those generational curses (so to speak) are what I want to focus on.

Doing a pattern-interrupt is vital to your legacy as you age.

It's easy to sweep family dynamics under the rug and hope they'll go away.

But most often they don't and your present family relationships suffer leaving behind a perpetual mess for current and future generations to deal with.

It's possible to own and renew your generational heritage without allowing it to define your legacy

I've tried to live by the mantra that:

"Your past (including your generational past) explains you but it doesn't lock you in (or define your legacy)."
  • Discover the power of a pattern-interrupt - saying "it stops with me!"
  • Nurture your branches of the family tree so new growth has the potential to emerge
  • Understand the healing that comes through building bridges and mending old (or new) wounds

Interrupt unhealthy patterns beginning with yourself

You can push pause and do what I call a pattern-interrupt relative to your...well...relatives.

These unhealthy patterns as we call them, refer to those family norms that show up:

  • When you face conflict
  • When you interact with certain family members
  • When you offer advice or wisdom
  • When you try to make personal decisions or changes

Knowing how family dynamics play-out, this list could be lengthy - depending on your personal circumstances.

The first interruptive principle is this:

Realizing that you can't change someone else's behavior (even those closest to you) but you can make a difference by changing yourself.

This takes big self-awareness and asking yourself some penetrating questions.

  • What are my family triggers?
  • When do those triggers happen most often?
  • How do I respond when I'm triggered?
  • What happens as a result of my triggered actions or emotions?
  • What interruptive actions or emotions can I develop that would lead to healthier outcomes (and ultimately a healthier legacy)?

The pattern-interrupt ball is in-your-court. What you choose to do with it has the power to begin breaking those generational curses.

Tend to your "circles"

In this context, I'm talking about the two primary circles that impact the quality of your relationships and your life in general.

  • Your circle of concern: what happens to you that's out of your control


  • Your circle of influence: the ability to choose how you respond to what happens to you 1

Your circle of concern is likely larger than your circle of influence. This is especially true when you're in the weeds of a family interaction or gathering, a family conversation, or a family crisis.

The larger your circle of concern the more power it has to define the outcome of whatever issue you're dealing with.

The power of the circle of influence is that you can call-the-shots.

  • You can walk away - choosing to not to engage in unproductive conflict.
  • You can take ownership - choosing to be responsible for your role in the conflict or longstanding issue.
  • You can be a light not a judge - choosing to be on the solution side instead of the blame side.

Notice that the focus is on what "you can" do not what "you can't" do.

The essence of taking a circle of influence approach to your generational stuff is that you minimize the leverage that the circle of concern has on you and your immediate family.

Instead of feeling responsible for trimming another's branch of the family tree - give attention to trimming the growth of your own.

Fix what's broken (before it becomes unfixable)

Build a bridge before the river rises.

Close the gap before it widens.

I think you get the picture.

Most conflict - even conflict that's spanned generations within your family - can potentially be fixed if...you take advantage of the present moment and do the hard work.

  • You might need to triage months, years, decades, or generations of wounds.
  • You can begin the healing process without denying the pain or damage that's been done.
  • You have the capacity to forgive even though you struggle to forget.

Your generational legacy is too valuable to be cursed with conflict

  • Do a pattern-interrupt - be a catalyst for change.
  • Do what you can - focus on your influence.
  • Do the hard work - believe that healing is possible.

I'm aware this topic could open up a Pandora's Box of emotions and past wounds. Take advantage of your supportive community, available resources, and (if necessary) professional counseling or therapy.

And whatever you do...

Press on...



1-Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I give major credit to Dr. Covey's research and the life-transforming insight of the "Circle of Influence/Circle of Concern" principle.