Start before it’s too Late!
We often only start family research later in our lives. Maybe we take for granted the cultural traditions that we grew up around. We may have embraced them or thought that they were old-fashioned and not worth paying attention to.
Later in life, as ageing parents come closer to the ‘transition’ we are forced to look at what is being left behind and how connected we are to our ancestral past. Reconnecting to your family heritage, its ancestral heartland and cultural traditions can be a wonderful way to honour, those who have gone before us and those that we are still in a relationship with.
A Growing Desire for Knowledge
This aim to reconnect with family members across generations and within the wider community of which they are a part is a common and growing phenomenon. It points to the part of our life or history that we know little about and makes us want to fill the gaps in our knowledge.
When there are family difficulties in the present, we increasingly look for what hasn’t been resolved in the past in order to create a better future. What we often find when we look, are untold stories of family exclusion and secrets that have been kept down the generations, thereby creating the gaps in knowledge that we seek to fill.
Another way of seeing this is as recurring patterns within the family system, that are usually not clearly understood but often taken by a family member as their own. When we seeking a resolution to a family problem, it usually involves a relationship to another person, a friend, a substance, sometimes something that isn’t known but can be viewed as dynamic negative energy that hangs over the family.
Restoring and Reconciling Patterns
The goal is to find and work with all the relationships and energy sources so that difficult issues can be resolved and the flow of love starts to move naturally through the family system. One way of looking at this past-present dynamic is as an ‘entanglement‘ in the family.
This can be challenging because revealing or speaking about issues in your family or community system that have been forgotten, hidden or excluded is difficult and sometimes very painful. However, it is also a powerful way of bringing about change and healing in family patterns.
- For example, two family members may not have spoken to each other for years, but nobody knows why.
- A sibling may feel that they are the peacekeeper or mediator for a whole family in conflict and yet have nobody to talk to when they have a problem.
- An excluded relative that nobody talks about because they have a mental health problem an addiction or a history of violence somehow seems to intrude when there is a family gathering.
- Or it may be a painful transgenerational community history that is taboo to speak about because its effects have been so traumatic on family members and the wider community.
The Family Constellations Lens
One way of uncovering our ancestral family heritage in more depth is through the lens of family constellations. This unique method is a way of exploring present difficulties in a family or community, by looking to the past, so that we can understand how to make changes for the future.
The aim of constellations is to restore the ‘flow of love within the family’ and help us separate from entanglements within the system. We can strengthen the ties to our ancestry, by making a conscious choice to delve deep and free ourselves of patterns that create pain and suffering.
This may mean both revealing and speaking about difficult issues and relationships or people that have been forgotten and are hidden in the past. When we find a place in our hearts for everyone in the family, even those who have been excluded, we can heal the trauma that is passed down the family line.
To find out more go to my Ancestral constellations website here
Sonya’s first published articles appeared in the Training and Development Methods and Coaching at Work journals in 2006. She returned to writing in 2019 with articles for the Systemic Constellations Journal, The Knowing Field and Counselling and Therapy Journal, Therapy Today. Sonya is currently writing a commissioned book, that explores Transgenerational Therapy and Ancestral Remembering in the African Diaspora.