How Your Family History Repeats Itself

We’re all familiar with the old adage “history repeats itself.” And it’s true, broad patterns of war, genocide, social injustices, poverty, economic crashes, even pandemics have cycled through our world’s history on repeat.

However, how many of us have stopped to consider that familial history also repeats itself? That within family lineages, patterns of abuse, estrangement, betrayal, divorce, money issues, etc.—just to name a few—are passed down through the generations. And that said patterns unconsciously influences our thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and relationships to this day.

While it may not always manifest as a direct replication, familial history has a sneaky, surprising and sometimes puzzling way of repeating itself.

Time to upgrade your operating system

Twenty-plus years of coaching thousands of clients has taught Lauren Handel Zander, co-founder of the Handel Group (an international corporate consulting and life coaching company), to look for the leaks in a person’s lineage—and fix them.

“From my perspective, most of us still have to work through the very same issues as our parents and their grandparents. But we don’t tend to realize our plight or understand how special and vital it is to intervene on our own behalf,” she explains. “Why do I think it’s so vital to connect the dots? I believe we need to study our history, not just to avoid our family’s pitfalls but so we can fully understand and honor our lineage by evolving it.”

Sharing an example of reruns in her own ancestry, Zander walks 24Life readers through investigating their own lineage and repeating history in a previous story [/is-your-familial-history-repeating-itself-heres-how-to-break-the-cycle/], including writing your own version of your family’s history, interviewing family members, interpreting the data and upgrading your operating system.

“Once you’ve identified possible pitfalls that come with your lineage and history, you can start making promises to stop a pattern or change an outcome,” she advises. “Make personal laws that honor (not blame!) the emotional and physical DNA that comes from your family’s history.”

A special kind of inquiry

International teacher, speaker and author Elena Brower has worked with the Handel Group for more than a decade and is passionate about honoring the group’s work by bringing it forward.

“From my 10 years of work with the Handel Group, I’ve learned how to really honor my family, my ancestry, my lineage, and see where I’ve chosen to take both negative and positive forward in my own life and to choose well,” she says.

Now a coach herself, she’s in continual conversation with students and clients as to their familial history and repeating patterns, asking questions like, “Who does this little thought remind you of? Your mom or your dad, or which caregiver?”

Brower explains that the information that emerges from that type of inquiry is incredibly helpful for resolving what has occurred (often across many different strata of one’s life) and how to heal it.

Consciously carrying lineage forward

“The more we recognize that what is happening with us is directly linked to our lineage and family history, the more we can understand, know, connect our own dots and change those very patterns that are repeating—whether we want them to or not,” Zander explains.

Rather than placing blame on our ancestors, unraveling family history is a way of becoming more aware of repeating patterns so that we can consciously make better choices—to choose well, as Brower says.

“For me, the concept of lineage is to become aware of how we—in this present day—are taking what perhaps our parents or their parents did and bringing it forward unconsciously,” Brower explains. It is both our privilege and our practice to then choose what it is of our ancestry that we bring forward, she adds.

Last note: please respect your elders

Brower considers herself an elder in training, pointing out that all of us are, and “the minute we own that, we are free and we have something to offer,” she says.

Diving more deeply into what that means, Brower wants to understand how she can both serve as an elder and how she can serve the elders who are here with us now.

“I think that some of what I am able to offer now as a teacher along these lines is—please respect your elders,” she says.

Photo credit: SDI Productions, Getty Images