Family History – rewriting the story
Yesterday I used the left-overs to make a broth. This is because our “Family History” includes a script to “waste not, want not”. Last night, I was ill. Doh!
This got me thinking about the scripts we live by, and just how many of them come down to “Family History”. My partner has a dislike of meat that comes down to eating poorer cuts when she was a child. The unpleasant emotional charge of childhood experiences makes for a powerful carrier for learning – and she’s learned that meat, as a generalisation – is often unpleasant. This emotional reaction is now associated with all meat, and influences her choices in both the supermarket and the restaurant.
Now the truth is that some cuts of meat, prepared in an expert way, can taste delicious. Family History, in the sense of developing our preferences, is not always based upon the truth. This means that we sometimes need to rewrite the story. Sometimes we need to challenge the scripts we live by.
The meat script is an easy one. Either we rewrite to become vegetarians (a far more noble and praiseworthy option), or we gather sufficient evidence that some meat is good and delicious.
“Waste not, want not” may be a minor issue, but the same process lies behind the development of other scripts such as prejudice. Racial, religious, gender, age, sexual orientation and all manner of other prejudice most frequently comes down to Family History. Either an influential person has coded a value into our script, e.g. “never trust a cop,” or we have had an emotive experience that has conditioned our values. Often it is a mix of these two code-makers.
So how can we become code-breakers, and rewrite the story? The first steps are simply to review the scripts in the light of current evidence and challenge the generalisations. I have many female friends who park far more effectively than I do, so societal humour around the generalisation that “women can’t park” is clearly rubbish. It’s a matter of catching ourselves on the cusp of a sweeping generalisation, and sweeping it away!
It is said that we all have a book in us. That would mean that we are all writers, and if we are all writers, it follows that we can all rewrite the story. The past is important. Our genealogical Family History and our family values are very important but they are there to inform, not to dictate.
As creative beings, we can always find, create, or even manufacture fresh associations and meanings. Be creative today, and challenge your Family History.