Generational, or inherited, emotional issues can sometimes be a little hard to wrap your head around. A lot of people have a hard time deciphering if a given personality trait or character flaw is “just who they are”, or if they actually learned undesirable behaviors – even inherited them – from someone else. The process of sorting out what is truly of our making and what we inherited can often stir up such strong feelings we choose to pass the opportunity by. Who needs all the overwhelming guilt, anger, and sadness that comes along?

In truth, we all do.

No matter how wonderful our childhood, or amazing our parents and grandparents are or have been, we’re all dealing with learned behaviors, ideas, and belief systems we need to identify as not entirely our own. It’s hard work, but totally worth it. 

In order to make the process more manageable, I always used a simple visualization exercise with clients in my former practice. If you’re interested in learning more about what generational patterns may be influencing you, try this…

Start by imagining the line of people who came before you – literally in a line – and notice that as far back as you can imagine, an interesting process was taking place. Back beyond all the names and faces you know by heart — past all the people you know by name — everyone’s been carrying something. And they’ve all been passing it forward.

Imagine that the person at the very beginning of the line was carrying a backpack. Now imagine her giving the pack to the next person in line. As the backpack moves from generation to generation, some people add weight, making it more bulky and hard to carry, and some take weight out, making the load lighter for the next in line. 

Now imagine the backpack being handed from your parents to you. Feel the weight that comes with it. Connect with how difficult it is to put on and the ongoing burden of carrying such a  heavy weight day in and day out.

Let this realization encourage you to open the backpack and look carefully at what’s inside. This is your moment of truth. Weight by weight you can evaluate what has been handed down to you, and then decide what you’d like to carry and what you’d like to leave behind. You may not be able to clear every burdensome thing before passing it on to your posterity, but you can certainly, intentionally, choose to take something out.

It may seem simple, but this exercise can absolutely help free us from the guilt of thinking that every single character flaw we exhibit is a product of our own making. It can also motivate us to take ownership of what we have been given and then choose to improve and heal the family line. Not only can we make our own burden lighter, we can also lighten the weight for those who come after us—one weight and one pattern at a time.

Here’s to healing,



Amanda Porter is Enlighten’s Managing Partner and the co-author of our best-selling book, Emotions & Essential Oils.