Locating our thoughts feeling and behaviour also incorporates the meaning of the word trans-generational … and why it is relevant to our psychological state.
Simply put transgenerational means those things that happen in families that are handed down, and down, and down, and down through generations … they cover, however, are not restricted to … the way the family act, speak, live, love, dress, cook, play, grow up children, relate, do relationship … almost all, and anything, that goes on in the family.
Our learning of this occurs when we are very young, perhaps in utero to age four, five, or six. Much of this learning happens at a non-verbal level, where we are picking up the queues, messages, and processes of our main carers, even when we have no idea that we are interpreting and learning from them, or even what that material is. We are using a very early, archaic, lens to collate this data and to decide about the world around us; how it functions and who we are in it. Every thought, feeling, and behaviour is being clocked by that tiny babe, which is then absorbed into that child’s development to become their character. While much of this is necessary for survival, i.e. learning and ongoing human function, much of it superfluous and can be damaging. For example, if the parents have an acrimonious relationship, they are basically teaching their child how to have a relationship … and that it is likely that the child’s own relationship will be acrimonious.
Another example is in using trauma to demonstrate how this might happen: it is widely understood that the trauma of a family; parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and ancestors are woven into our internal psychological world or psyche. That our psychological process operates varying degrees of early family history. It is a little like the intergenerational transmission of the family story into all parts of the self, making the learning ‘transgenerational’.
When we display behaviours, or have feelings or thoughts that are not useful, or even disruptive to our daily lives. It can often be a mystery to know how and where this has originated, while at the same time it might have a familiarity with it … a sort of sense that we know we have some ownership of it, not know where it came from.
Interestingly ten children in one family can each have a differing experience in that same family. This happens because they have interpreted through their own lens from where that parent is at any given stage in their own adult lives. This varying lens can be affected by as little as months between the birth of babies because the parent/s is evolving every moment also. Any impacted to the parent’s own external lives harbor differing ways of thinking, feeling, and behaviour, that affects each baby in their differing birth orders. It is through the ever-evolving parent that the baby/s interpret their own life and developing their thoughts feelings and behaviours.
How do we undo, or even bring this unconscious process into awareness … for recovery? Great question! Complex answer! It is often difficult to try to do this from a cognitive approach.
However, psychotherapy is different in that it aims to listen, as opposed to ‘tell’ the client. It is in that listening and attunement that there is an opportunity for the archaic information to find a way out … thereby creating awareness. And simply put … because it is simple … awareness creates a cure. The tough part of this process is that it usually takes time to nurture, relate and encourage the unconscious process to allow the early created ‘secrets’ out into that awareness. I see it bit like encouraging a turtle to come out of its shell. It will pop its head out and then back in at the smallest threat. Slowly developing trusting and perhaps even interacting with the stimulus … this is psychotherapy. And this can take years!
When you are struggling to deal with, and understand, thoughts feelings and behaviours it’s good to know that it is likely buried in your archaic neural pathways and that perhaps a psychotherapy journey is overdue. For more on this topic please click here. Or to read more blogs on similar themes please click here, and to read my book in both paperback and eBook please click here.