Cutting Loose from Your Emotional Inheritance (Part I of the GWNI “Raise Yourself Up!” Series)

Raise Up 01 girl jump iStock_000002540401XSmall When you’re in emotional pain, you want to know—is there a cure?  Am I a puppet of my family or an independent agent with choice?  Will I ever feel better—like, happy?  Will I ever stop crying?  Will I grow out of this and, promise me, not repeat the past?

Not repeating the past is really, really important to people like us who were raised by parents who were too childlike to raise us properly—whether alcoholic, depressive, abusive, or too deeply codependent to raise emotionally healthy kids. We. Do. Not. Want. To. Repeat. The. Past.  At any and all costs.  We have seen not just our parents but their parents, and theirs, and we suspect even the great-great grandparents, too, are a part of our emotional inheritance. We want it to stop. We want freedom from all this.

You can have freedom.

You can break free from your emotional inheritance.

The big question is this: What is a way of living that will actually heal us so that we can be free of the cycle we know all too well:  we feel pretty good most of the time, but then a drama or chaos strikes (maybe we fuel it, maybe we attract it, maybe its storming down our doors—whatever)…then, again, we return to feeling pretty good (coming out of chaos into calm feels so, so good to us, doesn’t it? It’s a malicious relief!)  And, then, again for a while we feel fine (we have amnesia about the potential for chaos to erupt) and we think, “This is good. That wasn’t so bad.” But then, again and again, just when we’ve become calm and even—oh! spontaneous!—chaos again comes ‘round the corner and we’re entangled in a drama that has the familiarity of childhood, whether we make that connection or not.

How do we break free from the emotional inheritance we’ve got?  How do we ensure we don’t raise our own children out of a reaction to our childhood or in ignorance of the impact of our actions?  How do we start to live new lives, at this point?

The how and what is this:  Practice.

Practice is doing something in a committed way, over time—giving it your complete focus, being wholly present in your practice. When you’re truly practicing, you’re also truly passionate.  Even if you tried, you couldn’t be half-hearted about practicing.   That said, because you’re doing it over time, because you’re committed to it, there’s no need to get it right every time—you can mess up and fall down.

People who do yoga and meditation do what’s called practicing.  Although people have the notion that yoga and meditation lead to a kind of final enlightenment or an ultimate endpoint, they are usually cured of that notion early on—and the best part is that they don’t care because they’ve begun a practice that is rewarding in and of itself.

That’s the other key to practicing, or process—it is rewarding in and of itself.  Let go of the endpoint. Also, you’ll appreciate that practicing can cure you of perfectionism, because in the act of practicing you’re forced to let go—practicing, by definition, cannot exist in the same space as perfectionism.  (I officially reject the sense of the common phrase, ‘practice makes perfect;’ did practice do that for anyone, really, ever?)

So, what are you practicing?

You’re practicing at adulthood, true adulthood—one where you raise yourself up.  And I mean “raise up” in the sense of raising yourself into true adulthood, but also in the sense of raising up your spirit, raising up your expectations of life, and raising up your chin, too!

Here are the Four Raising-Up Practices, which I’ll discuss over my next few posts.


The Practice of Learning Who You Are & What Happened

The Practice of Therapeutic Work

The Practice of Taking Care of Yourself & Making Changes

The Practice of Being Present in the Happiness You’re Creating

Further Reading:

What Is Your Emotional Inheritance?

Family of Origin Work You Can Kick-Start at Home


  1. Thank you so much for your website. Every post I’ve read has resonated with me. I’ve blogged on and off for years and have recently started again (I posted a link to your blog). You say it all and, I don’t want this to sound creepy, but I automatically feel a link to those who ‘get it.’
    My parents were not alcoholics but both of my grandfathers were &, as you know, the trickling effects have been brutal. Especially since my parents ignore ‘dealing’ or self-awareness and substituted dysfunctional, extreme religion for it. I have pretty much been on my own to try and halt those dysfunctions for myself and my own children so sites like yours mean so much. For one, I realize I’m not crazy with 100% of the thoughts I think; that they are normal for those of us with my background or similar. Thanks again!

  2. amy eden says:

    Hey Amy – thanks!
    Welcome to the family :-)
    We’re big and acutally supportive. No way are we alone, not by a mile.

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