Study Your Multi-Generational Transmission Process
We’ve been discussing the impact of physical and emotional cut-offs–a pattern that we automatically fall into, when we have tension in close relationships and limited emotional maturity to deal it. Learning as an adult to operate with increased emotional maturity in early life relationships–skillfully bridging emotional cutoff– automatically transfers into the relationships we develop in adult life, as well.
To skillfully bridge cut-offs requires that we remove blame from those who harmed us in early life. Dating Wisely Concept #11: Study Your Multigenerational Transmission Process, can be an invaluable tool in this effort.
This concept involves the same process as we discussed in Dating Wisely Concept #9: Study Your Family Projection Process, but on a larger, generational scale. In other words, parents project onto their children in ways that their parents projected onto them, and you can trace these patterns back for generations.
Studying these patterns can help remove blame from early life relationships when you realize that your parents had no intention of harming you, and their parents had no intention of harming them, as far back as the eye can see. In fact, most parents believe they’re doing well with their children–at least better than their parents did with them– even when they’re misguided. Parental intentions are good and noble, even if the results are less than. Most of what gets transmitted is simply all they know, and all that the whole family system has known for generations.
Same Starting Point, Different Trajectories
The multigenerational transmission process observes that some children get more unresolved parental issues projected onto them than their siblings. Those who get more will emerge into adulthood with lower levels of differentiation than their parents, while their siblings who received less projection will emerge into adulthood with higher levels of differentiation than their parents (and their siblings).
Because people choose partners at the same level of differentiation, a sibling with a lower level of differentiation (a weaker sense of self) will marry someone with a low level of differentiation, and a sibling with a higher level of differentiation (a more solid sense of self) will marry someone with a higher level of differentiation. The children of these pairs will eventually emerge into adulthood with slightly lower and and slightly higher levels of differentiation than their parents, as well.
In this way, one line of a family can move further and further down the differentiation scale while another line can move further and further up. Slight gaps in levels of differentiation become wider and wider over generations, and this in turn results in huge disparities in family stability and contributions to society, all in one multi-generational family system.
Objectivity and Course Corrections
Beginning to note these patterns can help make sense of experiences and realities in your own family system over the generations, and can help you be more objective about the impact of the generational projection process on your own life, including your choice of partner/s. It can also help you alter the trajectory of your arm of the multi-generational family system if you’re willing to do the work of increasing your level of differentiation. One slight alteration in this trajectory can eventuate into a massive course correction over a few generations–leaving you with a noble legacy.
Having traced some family patterns back seven generations, I’ll provide a personal example tomorrow, and then we’ll look at the current relevance of all this to your dating life.